Between perception and a response emerges a zone of feeling, a resonance, a vibration, a powerful affect that inaugurates the passionate geography evoked in Guiliana Bruno’s ‘Atlas of Emotion’ . . .
–Iain Chambers, “Maritime Criticism and Theoretical Shipwrecks,” PMLA, May 2010
We think of geography as a science, a measuring of space: latitude, longitude, miles traversed. But in life, as in fiction, geography is also passionate, resonant with memory or experience. In the everyday, we barely see our geography, but if you return to an old landscape, then your lost loved one, your sense of home, or bittersweet memories will ache your heart with pleasure or grief.
The genre of medieval romance is about the comings and goings of knights and maidens, of strange journeys and returns, of magical landscapes and horrifying battle. In deciding to follow the story of Malory’s Roman War tale, I was romancing the Roman War, interpreting and experiencing the landscape of a very old story. Transforming the story of a war into the story of falling in love with Rome.
But it wasn’t as if I set out with a plan. I found myself in the landscape; no, I created the circumstances of my being in the landscape, and then realized I was already on the route. For me, the journey became many journeys. Along the way, some heartbreak, a scholarly passion, the dream of so many pilgrims, travelers, and writers: Rome.