Tuesday, January 26, 2010

D. H. Lawrence's

The Man Who Loved Islands

"even islands like to keep each other company"

(The Complete Short Stories, p. 723)

Yes, more than men, that is the man of the story who loved islands, islands liked to keep each other company. This is a story from the pen of D. H. Lawrence who wrote many wonderful stories. In this story he has incorporated several themes and many layers of meaning all in less that twenty-five pages. The man who "loved islands" appears Quixotic as he attempts to create an imaginary island world around himself as he sequesters his being in his book-laden library to write about the birds of the classical world. But his dreams were quickly corroded as the corruption of humanity tainted his imaginary Eden. Suggestions of Milton's Paradise Lost - yet can Satan have corrupted humanity so thoroughly that few are honest or loyal enough to continue the journey with the man?
Imaginary though it was it reminded me of Rousseau's attacks on civilization while he wrote of an imaginary state of nature. This state of nature seemed to be close to the reincarnation of our man's island as he tried yet a second time to accomplish his dream. Ultimately the man who loved islands inherits a nightmare as the story veers into a snowy dystopia. What meaning does this hold for the reader? I am not sure, but the thoughts for which the story is a catalyst will continually remind me of this strange world.

The Complete Short Stories: Vol. Three by D. H. Lawrence. Penguin Books, New York. 1977 (1961)

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