In Islands of the Mind, John R. Gillis takes us on a rich and fascinating journey through the centuries and across the ocean in search of the meanings of islands in the collective imagination and history of the western world. Islands, he shows, have always sparked the imagination with notions of danger, adventure, isolation and even perfection. They have lured explorers and been the reason for battles between colonizing empires. Islands have given birth to unique cultures, they have prompted scientists and anthropologists with clues to human beginnings, and have been known to occasionally disappear without a trace. Gillis unravels both the actual and conceptual history of islands, beginning with the imagined lands of Homer's Odyssey and ending with a look at modern-day cruise destinations. This multifaceted survey shows how and why islands have occupied such a central place in the western imagination, and how they came to be master symbols and inexhaustible metaphors for so many different things.
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