Literary Analysis

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Loren Blanton
Professor Nenna
ENC 1102
7/12/14
Literary Analysis on Tabula Asiae
In the essay, “Tabula Asiae”, written by Michael Ondaatje, is a myriad of mythical imagery that describes old portraits of Ceylon. The descriptive details used throughout the nonfiction work is captivating and aids in describing Ondaatje brother’s wall, which is located in Toronto. The nonfiction piece of writing is a personal essay, which contains multiple personal experiences. There are to forms of nonfiction prose that are evident throughout Ondaatje’s essay; a slice of history and a sense of place. A slice of history provides rich content for the essay by providing historical facts and data about the island on the map. Without historical data about Ceylon, the reader would not be able to fully understand the map portraits that were lined up on the wall. A sense of place on the other hand, allowed Ondaatje to present a picture of Ceylon, by using sensory details that described the specific location. By using a slice of history and a sense of place, Ondaatje’s essay provides the reader with a clear understanding of the portraits of Ceylon.

According to Ondaatje, his brother’s wall in Toronto is covered with false maps. The maps are old portraits of Ceylon. Since the maps are described as portraits, they are considered to be artistic representations rather than records. (Hoye) The pieces of art are results from sightings, glances from trading vessels, and the theories of sextant. (Ondaatje 99) Towards the end of the essay, Ondaatje focuses on his family’s history rather than the island of Ceylon. He describes how his family name was given to his first ancestor that arrived in Ceylon as a reward for curing a governor’s daughter illness.

Throughout the essay, one nonfiction prose form that is evident is a slice of history. Ondaatje discusses the portraits he sees to understand the history of his family in comparison to the history of Ceylon constructed by the European...
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