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The Mind's Isle

Imaginary Islands in English Fiction

Adrian Kempton

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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Chapter 4: Symbol and ideal: Barrie, Warner and Huxley


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Symbol and ideal: Barrie, Warner and Huxley

J. M. Barrie: Neverland

The symbolic potential of the island has been extensively and variously exploited by writers of imaginative literature. Particularly significant in this respect, in that islands are themselves seen as representative of the human imagination, is Peter Pan. The Neverland of a child’s fancy is likened to an island map, a cartographic palimpsest, made up of a complex network of shifting literary and personal memories:

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