Cover image for Cartographies : meditations on travel
Cartographies : meditations on travel
Agosín, Marjorie.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Athens : University of Georgia Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xxii, 134 pages ; 20 cm
Personal Subject:
Subject Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
G465 .A37 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



On the impulse behind Cartographies, Marjorie Agosin writes, ""I have always wanted to understand the meaning of displacement and the quest or longing for home. In these lyrical meditations in prose and poetry, Agosin evokes the many places on four continents she has visited or called home. Recording personal and spiritual voyages, the author opens herself to follow the ambiguous, secret map of her memory, which ""does not betray."" Agosin's journey begins in Chile, where, before her family left in the early days of the Pinocher dictatorship, she had spent her childhood. Of Santiago Agosin writes, ""Day and night I think about my city. I dream the dream of all exiles."" Agosin also travels to Prague and Vienna, ancestral homes of her grandparents, and to Valparaiso in Chile, which received them as immigrants. Kneeling among the yellow mounds at the Terezin concentration camp, where twenty-two of her relatives died, Agosin places ""small stones, shrubs, the stuff of life on graves I did not recognize."" And then on through the Middle East, the Mediterranean, Europe, and the Americas...Everywhere, she is drawn to women in whose devotion and creativity she sees a deep vein of hope.

Author Notes

Marjorie Agosin was born in Bethesda, Maryland, in 1955. She has written many books of poetry and fiction. Her childhood and early adolescence were spent with her Jewish family in Chile, where her family also participated in the dominant Catholic culture. The young Agosin became keenly aware of her dual identity in her country, both as a participant and as an outsider. The overthrow of Salvador Allende forced her family to immigrate to Athens, Georgia, where she was then ostracized as an emigrant.

She is a professor of Spanish at Wellesley College. The poet's current residence is in New England.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

In this slim and unusual travel book, the emphasis in the title is on meditations. Agosin, a professor of Spanish at Wellesley College, is a poet at heart and, as such, her book becomes not so much a narrative of travels as it is a cornucopia of images that float momentarily past the reader like screen-saver images on a computer monitor, always immediately replaced by new and unexpected ones. Agosin's travels encompass four continents, beginning with her homeland in Chile, where her childhood was interrupted by her father having to flee the Pinochet regime. Her travels and reflections often coincide with spots where her Jewish ancestors crossed paths with the brutality of the Nazis. Prague and Vienna, Budapest, Croatia, Rhodes, Istanbul, Jerusalem, Cairo, Rome, Assisi, Ireland, London, Amsterdam--these are just some of the places that the author provides glimpses of in her poetic descriptions. She has written a travel book that can also be enjoyed as short, isolated reflections in which individual scenes reverberate like private prayer. --Allen Weakland Copyright 2004 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

With lyrical prose and deep passion, writer and poet Agosin (Sargasso; Starry Night; etc.) maps out her past and the places that have given her life meaning. Written as a series of what Allende calls "prose poems," the book's short chapters are dreamy, meandering reflections on Agosin's travels through locations rich with personal meaning and sometimes claiming violent histories. Agosin was born in Chile, after her family fled Jewish persecution in Europe. When Pinochet seized power during Agosin's childhood, the family fled again. The author shows how she's embraced her wandering ways and grounded herself in foreign places, including Vienna, Prague, Sarajevo, Cairo, Tuscany, Ireland, Tijuana and, improbably, York, Maine. Her descriptions of these places are short, often dramatic, and vary from concrete to conceptual. Returning to Chile as an adult, she writes, "I wanted to dream about my country, draw near her as if for the first time, with the innocence of the little girl who asks where they put the dead people. My country was a sharp desert where women rested upon a silenced history and eight hundred active volcanoes." The author describes each location's history and meaning for her life, but she also includes a powerful sense of the present. Of course, in covering so many settings, Agosin doesn't address any in much depth. Rather, she intends each chapter to feel like a first impression, and an intimate one at that. Although the Holocaust looms large, Agosin's palpable love of humanity and unique prose style keep this work uplifting. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

With nearly 20 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction to her credit, Agosin (Starry Night; A Cross and a Star) has won several awards for her human rights work. Here, she explores her Jewish roots, writing free-verse passages that briefly describe her journey to the countries of her ancestors and the present-day people-especially women-of these countries. Agosin recalls the Holocaust's impact on her family as she travels, beginning with memories of her childhood days in Chile, where her parents settled prior to the outbreak of World War II. She then visits Prague and Vienna to pay her respects at the graves of relatives lost in the war. Throughout her writings, Agosin concentrates on the strength and creativity of women worldwide while revealing her own preoccupation with past oppression. While she pens certain scenes that might be described as travel, Agosin's work doesn't quite qualify as a travel book. It is more appropriate for the literature or inspirational section of any large library.-Mary V. Welk, Chicago (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Isabel AllendeNancy Abraham Hall
Preludep. xi
Introductionp. xiii
Section I A Map of My Face
Creating a Mapp. 3
The Murmur of the Roadp. 3
Promisesp. 3
A Compass and a Purple Sailboatp. 4
The City of Memoryp. 4
The City of Booksp. 5
The City of Lovep. 5
A Map of My Facep. 6
The Traveler and the Mapmakerp. 7
Cities of Waterp. 7
Travelingp. 8
The Treasures of Arrivalp. 9
Section II Southern Shores
Chilep. 13
Santiagop. 13
The City of Childhoodp. 14
Homep. 15
The Fairyp. 16
Pomaire: City of Clayp. 16
Isla Negrap. 18
Neruda in Isla Negrap. 19
The City of Foreignersp. 21
Osornop. 21
The Languages of Memoryp. 22
Vina del Mar and the Pacificp. 22
Rainp. 23
Reaching Valparaisop. 24
City of Wind and Thresholdsp. 24
The Lights of Valparaisop. 28
Phantom Shipsp. 29
Section III Cities of War
Tamara and Silviap. 33
The Pinkas Synagoguep. 34
Terezinp. 36
Praguep. 39
Viennap. 42
Budapestp. 43
Croatiap. 44
Ana of Croatiap. 45
Dubrovnikp. 46
Section IV Gestures of Memory
Rhodes Ip. 51
Rhodes IIp. 52
Kefaloniap. 56
Aegeanp. 57
Istanbul Ip. 58
Istanbul IIp. 59
Jerusalemp. 60
Israelp. 61
Cairop. 62
Cairo's City of the Deadp. 63
Gestures of Memoryp. 64
Section V Touching the Sky
Tracesp. 69
Mdinap. 69
Lacep. 70
Romep. 71
The Jewish Ghetto of Romep. 71
Assisip. 72
Tuscanyp. 73
Volterrap. 74
Veronap. 75
Venicep. 77
The Ghetto of Venicep. 79
Nighttime in Venicep. 81
Spainp. 82
Dejap. 82
Valldemossap. 83
In Avila with Saint Teresap. 84
Spain in My Heartp. 86
Section VI Northern Realms
Irelandp. 91
Londonp. 93
The Church of St. Jamesp. 93
Oxfordp. 95
Bathp. 96
The Mermaid of Copenhagenp. 97
Amsterdam and Anne Frankp. 97
Therep. 99
Ainolap. 100
Saint Petersburgp. 101
Anna Akhmatovap. 102
The Gypsy Womenp. 103
Section VII America
The Weavers of Charlestonp. 107
Miamip. 108
Key Westp. 108
Dallasp. 109
Angel Fire, New Mexicop. 111
Tijuanap. 112
Juarezp. 113
Santiago de Atitlanp. 113
Costa Ricap. 114
Santo Domingop. 115
Sosuap. 116
Copacabanap. 117
Bahiap. 117
Teatep. 118
Rio de la Platap. 119
Montevideop. 121
Georgiap. 122
The Treep. 123
Amherstp. 127
Homewardp. 128
York, Mainep. 128
The Fortune-Tellerp. 130
Beach Housep. 131
The Cliffsp. 133