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Dark Paradise

Pacific Islands in the Nineteenth-Century British Imagination

Jennifer Fuller

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Examines the way in which the British transformed the Pacific islands during the nineteenth century

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 tenant of British imperialism – that they were the ‘superior’ or ‘civilized’ islanders.

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1. Moving missions and novel settlements: Early British Pacific propaganda (1796-1866)
2. Adventures in the Pacific: The influence of trade on the South Seas novel
3. Islands of discovery: Scientific curiosity in the works of Darwin, Huxley, and Wells
4. The price of paradise: Robert Louis Stevenson, Joseph Conrad, and British expansion in the Pacific
5. The Islanders Speak: Pacific reflections in the British press.

About the Author

Jennifer Fuller is Assistant Lecturer in English at Idaho State University. She became an English major by skipping out of chemistry labs to read Robert Louis Stevenson. Raised in Birmingham, AL, Dr. Fuller completed her undergraduate work at Furman University in South Carolina before moving west to do her graduate work at the University of Tulsa. She recently worked as an Assistant Professor of English at Warner University in Lake Wales, Florida.


Dark Paradise is a very well-written book that stands to amplify our understanding of the Pacific in significant ways.

- Ross G. Forman, University of Warwick

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