Synopses & Reviews
An exploration into the cultural, natural, and historical significance of islands, this unique book delves into what islands represent, how different cultures view them, and even the geological roots of island formations. Islands play a significant role in both the ancient and modern world, and play an important part in how civilizations were formed. The book looks at islands through the lens of the philosophical, psychological, biological, and political, as human identity has revolved around islands ever since people first discovered them. It celebrates islands for all their worth, whether real or invented, literal or fictitious, as a central part of the human narrative.
"In this ambitious book about the lives and influence of islands, Chamberlin (Horse: How the Horse Shaped Civilization) delivers a head-spinning mashup of navigational history, mythology, crash-course geology, poetry, and pop culture. Each of the five sections is introduced with excerpts from the 1830 Edinburgh Encyclopaedia, invoking a time when 'authoritative atlases and encyclopedias... were often either apologetically vague or absolutely wrong.' From there, Chamberlin, a professor at the University of Toronto, maps the wonders of Polynesia and the GalÃ¡pagos Islands, the differences between Polynesian and European navigation techniques, the strange emergence of Surtsey island in Iceland in 1963, famous seafarers, literary isles and their inhabitants (like Prospero and Robinson Crusoe), and many more compelling facts and histories. Early on in the outing, the author makes clear his goal: to show how islands 'define what it is to be human.' It's an admirable if hyperbolic effort. Unfortunately, a lack of cohesion and clarity of purpose will leave readers feeling lost at sea, with little more than Chamberlin's giddy sense of wonder to guide them. It's a fun and interesting trip, but it never arrives at its port of call. (Feb.)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Island tells the groundbreaking story of humans and islands throughout history, and illuminates the ways in which islands transform the world. It celebrates islands, be they real or imagined, barren or beautiful, large or small, as a central part of our lives.
About the Author
J. Edward Chamberlin is a professor emeritus of English and comparative literature at the University of Toronto. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, was a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, has lectured around the world, and received an honorary doctorate from the University of the West Indies. He is the author of "Come Back to Me My Language"; "Horse"; and "If This Is Your Land, Where Are Your Stories?" He lives in British Columbia.