The Floating Opera Places Discussed

John Barth

Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)


*Cambridge. Largest town and seat of Dorchester County, Maryland. It sits along the Choptank River on the DelMarVa peninsula, an area best known as the Eastern Shore. The economy is sustained mainly by natural resources: the crabs, oysters, and seafood of the Chesapeake Bay and the tomatoes and other crops of the rich, flat farms of the area. Cambridge is where the novel’s narrator, Todd Andrews, was born and raised; except for his service in the U.S. Army during World War I and his college and law school days, he has never lived anywhere else.

Founded during colonial times, with its first house dating to 1706, Cambridge embodies much of the history of the Tidewater region of Maryland and thus is richly evocative of the personal background of the novel’s characters, especially Todd Andrews, a multi-generational Marylander. As described in the novel, Cambridge is a sleepy, southern town, in many ways outside of time and largely unaffected by modern life. In such a setting, characters such as Todd and his friends, the Macks, are free to concentrate upon their inner lives and more abstract, philosophical concerns.

Dorset Hotel

Dorset Hotel. Residential hotel located in the heart of Cambridge, just across the street from the courthouse where Todd practices as an attorney and only one block from his offices on “Lawyers Row” on Court Lane. After his father lost all of his money in the Great Depression in 1930 and hanged himself, Todd was forced to sell the...

(The entire section is 627 words.)