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Islandia [Paperback]

Austin Tappan Wright
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Jan 2002
"Unique, brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed" - New York Times Back in print, the underground classic rivalled only by J.R.R. Tolkein's Middle-earth describes the detailed history of Islandia, which occupies the southern portion of the Karain Continent and boasts an ancient civilisation, protected by a natural fortress of towering mountains. To this isolated land comes John Lang, the American consul, and together he and the reader come to know and envy this magnetic land, its unique people and its strange, wonderful customs.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 1030 pages
  • Publisher: Overlook Press; New edition edition (8 Jan 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585671487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585671489
  • Product Dimensions: 20.4 x 13.7 x 4.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,947,503 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'Fabulous... There has never been anything like it.' The New Yorker 'The product of modern time, Islandia is vivid chiefly with the desire for complete escape from the actual world. It tries to make that escape so detailed, so palpable, that it will outrealise the reality' Time" --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Austin Tappan Wright (1883-1931) was a Harvard-educated lawyer and legal scholar. He died at the age of 48 in an automobile accident leaving thousands of pages of manuscript detailing his lifelong construction of Islandia. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my all-time favorite novels. 20 Aug 1999
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
Reading ISLANDIA is like visiting another country, one I would love to visit and might even consider living in. The world-building of Austin Tappan Wright drew me in and kept me entranced for 1000 pages. This is one of the very few novels that I revisit and reread, one of the few I've gone out looking for in a first edition. The characters are complex and endearing. The style is leisurely. There really is a plot, honest. But the book doesn't depend on the plot. It depends on the exploration of a different society and the interactions of its people with a young and naive American.
I had decided to write an amazon.com note about ISLANDIA before I saw that my name is on the "readers who bought ISLANDIA also bought books by..." list -- but the list made my day.
Vonda N. McIntyre
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A distillation of beauty and wisdom. 8 May 1999
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
"_Islandia_, Austin Tappan Wright's haunting Utopian novel, easily slips into Islandia, the imagined country which is the setting for the book. Almost anyone who has read the novel would go to Islandia in a moment should it ever be located, so it is easy to see why those who write about the book often find themselves writing in amazement about the country and its creation instead. As an imaginary land, it is extraordinary... the lifetime creation of a remarkable man. But I do not think it is simply the beauty of the land and the detail in which it is known and described by its creator that makes the novel so powerful. The novel is far more than a vision of Utopia, however appealing, being I think both a Bildungsroman, a novel of individual growth, intertwined with an adventure and the embodiment of great wisdom in ways of living, both individually and as a society. It is a marvelously subtle, poetic novel, and one can read many passages with great pleasure for the beauty of the descriptions or for the human insights alone.
Where did it begin? In Austin Wright's childhood and family surely... but also in the Cape Cod saltmarshes and the New England coast; in the White Mountains and the far north of Maine; in turn of the century Cambridge and Boston; in the Harvard classrooms of William James and Nathaniel Southgate Shaler; in the law offices and at-home afternoons of Justice Louis Brandeis; in Oxford and in travels through Europe; in Berkeley, then the center of the Arts and Crafts Movement in Northern California... for the novel is a distillation of all of these into a creation that stays on the mind and changes the reader long after the book is read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A true classic of utopian fantasy 20 Feb 1999
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
This is my very favorite book, bar none, and has been since I first read it 20 years ago. Hero John Lang attends Harvard (Class of 1905) with Dorn, a young man from Islandia, a mysterious, xenophobic country struggling to deal with incursions from rest of the world. Upon graduating, he finds himself unable to choose a career, so he decides to use his language skill (Dorn teaches him Islandian one summer vacation in Maine) and is granted a rarely-issued entry visa. Though he never truly fits in, he becomes involved in Islandia's curious culture in various ways, and ends up at the crux of a national debate there, related in part to a German military threat. (Islandia is on the northern end of an Australia-like continent, never clearly located but probably in the far southern Pacific.) Wright carried Islandia in his head, expanding it from a childhood fantasy into hundreds of thousands of words of narrative and description of the place. [Sailing on Cape Cod once, he remarked that a particular bay looked just like another in Islandia.] He was killed in a car accident in Las Vegas in 1931, and his editor and family took 11 years to cut about 70% of his words to winnow the book to its still formidable length (it's 1,000 pages long). The book is wonderfully written and edited, with a smooth, lovely style. It's a bit slow by contemporary standards, but the description of Islandia's language, e.g. there are 4 words for love (romantic, strong friendship, desire, and one unique to Islandia's family-centric society), culture, and country, are beautifully done. Example: he's helping plow one day, and is horrified to find human remains right in the main field. Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Library Binding
Al Kee liked his wine, and he also liked a good read. Sometime after having fathered six children and divorced Marjorie, his first wife, Al compiled a list of the 100 best books in the world. In 1967, at the age of fifteen, I came into possesion of this list. Among the usual stand-bys was a title that I had never heard of -- "Islandia". After some effort, I found the book in the Unitarian Book Store.

What peace and tranquility I found in Islandia. Being compulsive, I devoured the book in one reading and immediately destroyed the book so that I would not have to share it with anyone. Now, after all these years, a new edition has been released and I can expect to have readers crawling all over my island.

I encourage anyone that is thinking of buying this book to reconsider. "Stranger in a Strange Land" is a fine book, read that. Send away for L.Ron's "Dianetics". Take up rock climbing, but stay off the island.

You have been warned!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Great depth and real characters
I bought this book as recommended by one of my favourite authors; I was not disappointed in the scope, depth and realistic characters and the storyline kept my interest without... Read more
Published 15 months ago by lexab
5.0 out of 5 stars one of my favorites
A utopian society--a place of fantasy--somewhere to transport yourself away to a land less stressful and enjoy the days you spend reading and getting to know the people there. Read more
Published on 18 Dec 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a perfect world, but imperfections you can live with.
Who and what do you really want in your life? What are you willing to do, and do without, in order to achieve those goals? Read more
Published on 26 Aug 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Not a perfect world, but imperfections you can live with.
Who and what do you really want in your life? What are you willing to do, and do without, in order to achieve those goals? Read more
Published on 26 Aug 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Enter the world of true ecological faith
I read Islandia the first time in high school and then wrote several major papers about it in college. It is such a beguiling book. Read more
Published on 1 Aug 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, spellbinding, haunting
I read Islandia almost thirty years ago and it has never entirely left my mind. I want to read it again and have wanted to for years but I am afraid it wouldn't be the same.... Read more
Published on 1 Mar 1998
5.0 out of 5 stars You will stay in Islandia, but you can't go there.
The odd thing about "Islandia" is that Austen Tappan Wright, the author, did not write the book-Islandia grew. Read more
Published on 12 July 1997
5.0 out of 5 stars A book to read and re-read and share with a friend
I first came across ISLANDIA when I was about 15 years old and I spent a very enjoyable summer as a visitor to a most magical spot. Read more
Published on 20 Jun 1997
5.0 out of 5 stars Should be required high school reading
I was given the paper back years ago. I could not put itdown.This is a special book about a special place we who read it would like to read. Read more
Published on 29 Mar 1997
5.0 out of 5 stars A compelling vision of the good life
Islandia is a masterpiece. It is a utopian novel about a
high culture, low technology society, but a utopia without
glib answers and with real-world problems. Read more
Published on 16 Mar 1997
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