Pacific Islands in the Nineteenth-century British Imagination
Author: Jennifer Fuller
Publisher: Edinburgh Studies in Film and Intermediality
Category: English literature
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The discovery of the Pacific islands amplified the qualities of mystery and exoticism already associated with 'foreign' islands. Their 'savage' peoples, their isolation, and their sheer beauty fascinated British visitors across the long nineteenth century. Dark Paradise argues that while the British originally believed the islands to be commercial paradises or perfect sites for missionary endeavours, as the century progressed, their optimistic vision transformed to portray darker realities. As a result, these islands act as a 'breaking point' for British theories of imperialism, colonialism, and identity. The book traces the changing British attitudes towards imperial settlement as the early view of 'island as paradise' gives way to a fear of the hostile islanders and examines how this revelation undermined a key tenent of British imperialism - that they were the 'superior' or 'civilized' islanders.