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Since the dawn of history, islands have been at the heart of our desires - and our fears. Humans have always been drawn to them, whether as sailors or settlers, explorers or scientists, artists or pirates. This intriguing book tells the story of that fascination. It describes their origins as coral reefs or volcanic outcrops, their flora and fauna, and their human settlement, before exploring their role in art and science, from Stevenson's Treasure Island to Darwin's Galapagos.
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About the Author:
Islands are everywhere--in the oceans of the world, in the seas and sounds, and on lakes and rivers inland--and they have been at the heart of our desires, and our fears, forever. *Island* tells the groundbreaking story of humans and islands from the beginning of time to the present, and portrays islands where love flourishes, and islands that people have fought over; islands we escape to, and those we escape from; islands where curious things occur, or nothing at all happens; islands famous for pilgrimages or infamous for prisons; man-made islands and islands teeming with birds; as well as numerous other islands, both real and imagined.
Drawing on history, literature, art, anthropology, biology, and earth science, *Island* explores the human settlement of islands--including the seafaring skills required to cross the seas--and describes in vivid detail the spectacular flora and fauna of islands as well as their earth-shattering geology. It shows that ever since humans have been traveling and telling tales, they have been fascinated by islands. Creation stories around the world speak of land rising out of the water, and there are many literary island encounters--from Noah to Prospero and Gulliver, and from Ulysses to Robinson Crusoe and the Count of Monte Cristo. In real life, too, sailors and settlers, explorers and scientists, pirates and artists, have all been drawn to islands. The story of islands is also the story of our planet, from its beginning as an island in space to the contemporary appearance and disappearance of islands in the cycles of climate change and seismic upheavals.
One thing is certain: large or small, flat or mountainous, barren or beautiful, far out at sea or close to shore, islands are a central part of the world we live in. And since so many of our thoughts and feelings have an island counterpart, they may well define what it is to be human.
J. Edward Chamberlin is 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.
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