The Isle of Voices and Other Stories (Illustrated)

The Isle of Voices and Other Stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
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Original green cloth with gilt titles and gilt shamrock motif to Large octavo. Dark blue cloth with gilt titles to spine in uncl Foolscap folio, pp [4], viii, , [5] Appendix. Frontispiece plan of Newcastle with added manuscript Key tipped-in , letterpress title, dedication leaf, List of Subscribers.

Publisher: Macmillan and Co, London;. Prize binding. Octavo, pp xxiv, Frontispiece, facsimiles of 3 original wrappers and numerous engravings in text by the Author.

Hear My Cry

Publisher: Henry Hunter Blair, Alnwick;. It was a mysterious island, lonely and beautiful. All the children stood and gazed at it, loving it and longing to go to it. It looked so secret — almost magic. Shall we run away, and live on the secret island? For a writer, where the story happens is as important to the evolution of the idea as what happens. Setting creates mood and context for the drama, even dictating the kinds of dramas that can happen.

So, too, with an island, a familiar place for setting stories since Plato wrote about Atlantis — the island state that dared to threaten Athens, and in return was sunk by Zeus somewhere in the Aegean. But what is it about these places — land surrounded by sea, isolated, remote, defended — that makes for such useful contexts for storytelling? Not to mention the fact that we are, much as we might choose to forget it, an island nation.

In the British Isles alone, there are inhabited islands with thousands of smaller uninhabited isles dotted across the whole territory. Our collective imagination comes to us out of our history and geography and when we look at what we know of our past, especially in the Celtic world, islands were once seen as holy places, wild and monastic, such as Ynys Enlli in Wales, or Lindisfarne in the North-east.

Words for when there are no words

Or Skellig Michael, nine miles off the coast of County Kerry, on whose slopes rough cells were built by 6th-century monks, facing directly out on to the Atlantic weather for the purposes of meditation and penance. In The Wild Places, Robert Macfarlane quotes Bernard Shaw who, after visiting Skellig Michael, said: "I tell you the thing does not belong to any world that you and I have lived and worked in: it is part of our dream world.

And then there are the extraordinary islands of St Kilda, the archipelago of volcanic islands and sea stacks situated 40 miles west of the Outer Hebrides in the North Atlantic. They were inhabited from prehistoric times until the s by an isolated community of "bird people", who evolved prehensile toes suitable for climbing the cliffs to harvest eggs and birds, in a life which seems both impossible and dreamlike. Shakespeare riffed on this idea of the island dream world in The Tempest — "we are such stuff as dreams are made on" — where the island was the setting for sorcery.

Here there are spirits and magic characters — Ariel, Caliban — and magicians — Prospero, Sycorax — who can control the weather and enslave the spirit world. While following the tradition of the romance, the play defies classification as either comedy or tragedy and its use of the elements and the supernatural creates an atmosphere much closer to those of the rugged Celtic islands than the Mediterranean where it is ostensibly set. Then, in Richard II, comes the famously descriptive, nationalistic speech describing our "sceptred Isle This sense of moral and physical security led other Renaissance writers to use islands as spaces where they could model political philosophy, Atlantis was revisited by Thomas Moore in Utopia and Francis Bacon in New Atlantis.

Both of these works take up Plato's arguments about how society should be organized and promote a utopian, egalitarian vision for how we should live. Moore's book popularised the idea of a utopia — its literal meaning derived from the Greek means "no-place land" — the title becoming even more famous than the somewhat turgid source material. But these works were symptomatic, too, of a nascent sense of empire building.

These writers were responding to a new national confidence in the age of exploration. As Britain's seafaring prowess gave her precedence, so these writers felt able to take up the conversation from the Greek philosophers about how a civilised society should function. The critic Gillian Beer suggests that "the island has seemed the perfect form in English cultural imagining, as the city was to the Greeks.

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Defensive, secure, compacted, even paradisal — a safe place; a safe place, too, from which to set out on predations and from which to launch the building of an empire". As the world opened up under the pressure of exploration, so did the literature that was written, and the early 18th century produced two of the most memorable island stories in the British canon — Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe and Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift.

Robinson Crusoe is written in an autobiographical, realist style, and it was Defoe's intention to present it, teasingly, as fact. In his preface he says that he "believes the thing to be a just History of Fact; neither is there any Appearance of Fiction in it". Although the story was based on the life of Alexander Selkirk, who was shipwrecked on a deserted island, the story is a fiction, and one of the most famous and often adapted pieces about survival throughout the almost years since its publication in There are something like editions, from illustrated children's copies, to translations, to sequels, spin-offs and alternative versions, it's the Ur-text for every survival story you've ever read, including films such as Tom Hanks's Castaway or JJ Abrams's television series Lost.

Like all the best stories, the novel has a simple premise: Crusoe is shipwrecked on a deserted island and has to fend for himself. At first he builds a shelter from what remains of his ship. He then repels invasion by a cannibalistic tribe and then, in one of the most memorable moments in fiction, finds a footprint on the sand that tells him he is not alone. Cue the arrival of Man Friday — named after the day he appeared — who as a sidekick to the main protagonist is as recognisable as any other double acts in fiction: Holmes and Watson, Jeeves and Wooster, Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

James Joyce called Crusoe "the true prototype of the British colonist Yet Crusoe is also wise, his solitary sojourn giving him plenty of time to ruminate on the state of humanity. The general life-lesson which still seems pertinent is to appreciate what you've got.

Crusoe muses that "all of our discontents for what we want appear to me to spring from want of thankfulness for what we have". The island teaches Crusoe how to be lucky, and in being lucky he represents something of what we hope we might all do in similar circumstances; namely not just survive, but thrive. In Gulliver's Travels, however, Jonathan Swift uses the idea of an island not for adventure but for satire.

It's hard not to see the book, published nine years after Defoe's, as a rebuke to the idea of the individual survivalist. Gulliver is never washed up in places of solitude; instead he encounters societies of various kinds — the most famous, the island of Laputa, literally representing a little Britain, where all the inhabitants are 6in high and the rulers are stupidly intransigent. Rather than realist, this story is magic realist: as well as Lilliputians, Gulliver encounters talking horses which influenced George Orwell's Animal Farm , giants, and the terrible, brutish Yahoos.

In one of the most memorable scenes in the book, Gulliver puts out a fire in Laputa by peeing on it, only to find himself in trouble with the king for "making water" and is sentenced to be blinded. He escapes to the neighbouring island Blefuscu France and from there makes his way home.

Like Robinson Crusoe, the book has never been out of print since its first publication and — stripped of some of its more political passages — has long been a favourite of children's literature. For children, islands are personal kingdoms, boundaried worlds which are safe to explore and possess. But outside the realm of the kingdom of childhood or the launching of empires, the idea of an island starts to turn in on itself once we reach the 20th century. An island is no longer a place of safety or adventure, but is somewhere more interior, darker, more dystopian.

In Woolf's novel the island is Skye, where the Ramsays holiday between and , with a break in the middle in which the characters variously experience the First World War. The main plot, if there is a plot at all, describes a deferred trip to the lighthouse which is finally completed at the end of the book. Woolf's famous stream of consciousness style came from her interest in how she perceived patterns of thought — human beings, she contested, experienced the world not in neat, complete sentences, but in jagged thoughts that changed from one moment to the next.

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Safeguarding summary. Our website uses cookies to improve your online experience. Accept Find out more. Donate now. Toggle navigation Shopping basket Profile area Search. Words for when there are no words As individuals and communities across the country reflect on the First World War during its centenary, Bible Society is marking this anniversary with an illustrated collection of psalms, poems and personal stories to aid reflection about the War.

Features selection of over 40 Psalms interspersed with poetry, personal stories from the war, archive photos and pictures, prayers and hymns commentaries by Sister Wendy Beckett on paintings by Pieter Bruegel and John Nash useful for religious and civic ceremonies and for people to take away a tool for personal reflection that is adaptable to different circumstances, individual and corporate an edition small enough to pocket yet detailed enough to engage. More resources For more stories and resources visit our World War One microsite.

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