chapter  19
Islands
Literary geographies of possession, separation, and transformation
ByJames Kneale
Pages 10

Fictional islands are distinctive, significant literary geographies. This chapter explores these sites by way of a consideration of 'island theory' and Mikhail Bakhtin's discussions of the chronotope. It considers Bakhtin's chronotope as a framework for understanding these themes as elements of a literary geography. Postcolonial criticism has considered the fictional island as property, a space known, claimed and governed by "the warrior-explorer-engineer-administrator-imperial paladin" familiar from colonial adventure stories. David Floyd notes that the subjugation of a fictional island requires "rituals of possession", surveys, mappings, and other attempts to know the island and thus impose order upon it. Orphanhood implies separation, but it also suggests a link with the orphan's origins, with those that they have been separated from. This relative or partial separation is also what makes the island, literary or otherwise, an ideal laboratory, a site for transformation. Bakhtin's work on the chronotope offers a reading of islands that stresses their significance in space and time.