chapter  7
Pages 7

This book began with visions of an idealized Arcadia threatened by one of the worst humanmade environmental disasters in recent memorythe Deepwater Horizon oil spill-with haunting images and the uncertain future of an entire region as an unforgettable legacy. My intention in Imagining Arcadia, however, is in many ways to explore a vital portion of the enduring story behind this story, which in the West stretches all the way back to classical antiquity with the reinvention of Arcadia, the wild, Peloponnesian land, into a created, literary space, imagined rst as an idealized Sicily that eventually metamorphoses into an imagined Arcadia, a world that foregrounds matters of love, identity, freedom, and the inevitable human encounter with mortality. That story, which is a continuous one over time, also pertains to the important way in which as humans we effortlessly link imaginary worlds with sociohistorical ones as envisioned by different times, cultures, and individuals, and how authors choose to articulate that complicated nexus in literary form.