Taking as its point of departure The Odyssey, Plato’s account of Atlantis and The Voyages of Sindbad the Sailor, this book examines the profound influence of these works on the development of island fiction as a genre specific to English literature. Close readings of island fictions from the past four centuries reveal the many ways in which they adapt, rewrite and refer back to these foundational texts, forming an important and intriguing literary tradition. Examples of the genre include such universal classics as Utopia, The Tempest, Robinson Crusoe, Gulliver’s Travels, Treasure Island and Lord of the Flies.
Islands have always attracted travellers, writers and dreamers. This book leads the reader on a voyage of exploration to understand exactly what lies behind the island’s powerful appeal to the literary imagination. Along the way, it explores the cultural and historical background to Britain’s island status and its legacy of colonialism and imperialism.
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Adrian Kempton was formerly a lecturer in French, English and Comparative Literature at Queen’s University Belfast, University College Cork and the University of London Institute in Paris. He specializes in comparative eighteenth-century studies, with particular interests in epistolary writing, robinsonades, early children’s literature, salon art criticism and gardens. Retired since 2011, he lives between Paris and Chartres and is a frequent visitor to the Îles du Ponant – the islands of the setting sun.