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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 7: Island laboratories and thrillers: Frankenstein, Moreau and Christie

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CHAPTER 7

Island laboratories and thrillers: Frankenstein, Moreau and Christie

Mary Shelley: Frankenstein’s island

In the second scene of The Tempest both Prospero and Miranda address Caliban as ‘poisonous / abhorréd slave’, while in Scene 2 of Acts II and III Trinculo and Stephano address him as ‘monster’, ‘man-monster’, ‘servant-monster’, or even, with an ironic proleptic swipe at Miranda’s famous apostrophe, as ‘O brave monster’. Prospero, who looks upon Caliban as a botched creation, recalcitrant to all attempts to civilize him, decides on Caliban’s fate in the play’s final scene and reluctantly admits full responsibility for his creation: ‘this thing of darkness I / Acknowledge mine’ (V, 1, ll. 277–8).

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