Imaginary Islands in English Fiction
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.
Chapter 6: Phraxos and Sycorax
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Phraxos and Sycorax
John Fowles: Phraxos
In his essay ‘Islands’, John Fowles says of The Tempest that it is ‘the one other exploration of the island metaphor that stands shoulder to shoulder with the Odyssey and Robinson Crusoe’. More specifically, The Tempest ‘is a parable about the human imagination: its powers, its hopes, its limits. (…) Prospero really stands for Shakespeare’s own power to create magical islands of the mind’ (pp. 368, 369, 378). In The Magus he created, with Phraxos, an island that is both a magical island of the mind and one that has a firm autobiographical basis.
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