Indefinite Spaces

Topographic elements deemed real but not place-specific

This group of texts concerns a kind of location that is also a dislocation. In this spatio-temporal literary world nothing is in full focus, including the landscape around the character. So what we are dealing with is what in data terms is sometimes called "fuzzy geography" – areas of uncertainty. There are places and objects around you but they are not able to be specified or named and you don't really know where you are. The nature of the external landscape may also reflect the nature of the character's internal state.

Gawain and the Green Knight is a great early example of this. Gawain climbs hills and cliffs, rides through forests and crosses rivers but he doesn't really know where he is going or for what purpose beyond the locating of a "Green Chapel". The lack of specificity also tends towards the poetic so we see this kind of weird, passing landscape in poems such as "The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere". Equally, it lends itself to symbolic or even surreal landscapes such as Kafka's The Castle.


Example Texts
Illustration from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight Manuscript

Anon., Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Illustration from The Pilgrim's Progress

John Bunyan, The Pilgrim's Progress

A Dore illustration from The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner


Illustration from Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

Robert Browning, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came

Illustration from Silas Marner

George Eliot, Silas Marner