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Islandia Paperback – August 1, 2001
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Top Customer Reviews
I first encountered it in a freshman lit course at Dartmouth College in 1967, and I since have read it again twice--and each time it spoke to one's life. Because while in one sense it is a Utopian novel advocating a set of values for the ideal society, it also speaks directly to the choices individuals face in how to live their own lives and in that respect it echoes Henry David Thoreau.
Islandia at the surface level is an adventure/romantic story and a good one, though not without flaws and a few too many emotional twists and turns in its 1000 pages, as it describes the adventures (both in events and romance) of young American John Lang assigned as US consul in the early 20th century to Islandia, a distant and exotic but essentially Western agrarian nation with some very progressive views (esp. at the time Wright was writing the book over 60 years ago) on sexual freedom, female equality, and sensitivity to aesthetics and the environment; yet also with a deep respect for tradition. Wright in creating this society for his novel was trying to transcend modern "left and right" political values to combine some of the best features of both as a prescription for how to create a humane and satisfying society.Read more ›
Structurally this in not a good novel but then it was never intended to be a novel. The mood of the book parallels the emotions of the protagonist. When he is up--the book is up. When he is going through his disappointment in his thwarted love affair the book drags. When he is doing his "buckling and swashiling" toward the end of the book it is a great book of action. There are too many antclimaxes.
I have re-read this book several times a decade and each time leave it with a deep sense of satisfaction that Austin Wright had this dream and we are allowed to share it.
It is one of the last elegant books, and the flavor of the early 20th century runs through it. It is a book that you can read to your children before bed, and too yourself anytime. It deserves shelf space next to Dickens and Tolkien. I cannot reccomend this book enough. Everyone should have a copy.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a great book, and it deserves more recognition than it has received. I found it in a science fiction book store 30 years ago, and I've read it twice since then. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Amberle
My young wife and I read Islandia together in the 1970s. She liked to sew and I began calling her Nattana, which soon became shortened to Tana, by which name she was known ever... Read morePublished 7 months ago by Joe Ward
Islandia. THE book to read in one's lifetime. In the 1950s (and since?) the book to read was "Catcher In the Rye". Read morePublished 14 months ago by SteveGinGTO
Ever fall so in love with a place that you couldn't stop writing about it, obsessively cataloging every tiny detail and studying every aspect of it until you're left with a giant... Read morePublished 15 months ago by Michael Battaglia
This is a long book that was, evidently, a long-term avocation of the author. I gather that the book was published, posthumously, by his survivors. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Michael Glaviano
This special work by Austin Tappan Wright has maintained its place at the forefront of my literature collection for over 50 years. Read morePublished 17 months ago by OrinK3
I am delighted to find that this work is still available. I read it decades ago. Then I bought it for close friends. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Richard D. Stanton, Ph.D.
This is the grand daddy of all utopian novels. It was essentially required reading in my family back in the 1970s when I was a teenager. Read morePublished on January 9, 2014 by David Biddle
A big read, a dense text, a layered thematic scenario, but with a single stark message to humankind: industry sullies our bond with the natural world. Read morePublished on September 28, 2013 by Beau Geste