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About the book
When the first European explorers ventured into the unknown Pacific Ocean, their minds were filled with tales of remote, paradisiacal islands. Hopeful ideas of noble savages, ecological balance, and immense riches gave them the courage to search for a new world – even when faced with the unimaginable.
The South Sea Island – A Geography of Pleasure is a journey through the history of ideas and literature over three centuries of European and American narratives about islands, oceans, and archipelagos. Literary scholar Frits Andersen reads and analyses travel accounts, paintings, films, and novels from the 18th century up until the present day by visual artists and authors including Paul Gauguin, Herman Melville, Robert Louis Stevenson, Jules Verne, and Thor Heyerdahl. These readings, combined with Andersen’s eye for pleasure, sense, and longing, give rise to a novel literary history of the disappearing Pacific islands. At the same time, the book offers historical models that we can use today to enhance our understanding of, and find new answers to, global political and climate-related challenges.
Frits Andersen is a professor of Comparative Literature at Aarhus University, Denmark. His previous works include The Dark Continent? Images of Africa in European Narratives about the Congo (2016). The Danish edition of this book, entitled Sydhavsøen. Nydelsens geografi received the Georg Brandes Prize.
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