Review essay: From Odysseus to Robinson Crusoe: a survey of Early Western Island Literature

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Island Studies Journal, Vol. 1, No. 1, 2006, pp. 143-162


From Odysseus to Robinson Crusoe: A Survey of Early Western Island Literature
Chet Van Duzer
12177 Winton Way

Los Altos Hills, CA 94024-6431

This paper examines the history and development of books about islands in Western culture. Islands are prominent in Homer’s Odyssey, and Plato’s island of Atlantis is perhaps the most famous mythical island of all time. The Greeks were the first to develop the island-book as such, but Roman writers showed much less interest in insular themes. The article traces the history of the immrama (medieval Irish accounts of mythical Atlantic island voyages), notes the importance of islands in Marco Polo and John of Mandeville, describes the rise of the isolario, or island-book illustrated with maps, and concludes with the emergence of the Robinsonade.
Keywords: islands, Greek, Roman, medieval, immrama, isolario

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