The Isle of Pines
The Isle of Pines is a book by Henry Neville
Henry Neville
Sir Henry Neville was an English courtier, politician and diplomat. In 2005, he was put forward as a candidate for the authorship of Shakespeare's works.- Early life :...

 published in 1668. An example of Utopian
Utopia is an ideal community or society possessing a perfect socio-politico-legal system. The word was imported from Greek by Sir Thomas More for his 1516 book Utopia, describing a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. The term has been used to describe both intentional communities that attempt...

 fiction, the book presents its story through an Epistolary
Epistolary novel
An epistolary novel is a novel written as a series of documents. The usual form is letters, although diary entries, newspaper clippings and other documents are sometimes used. Recently, electronic "documents" such as recordings and radio, blogs, and e-mails have also come into use...

 frame: a "Letter to a friend in London, declaring the truth of his Voyage to the East Indies" written by a fiction
Fiction is the form of any narrative or informative work that deals, in part or in whole, with information or events that are not factual, but rather, imaginary—that is, invented by the author. Although fiction describes a major branch of literary work, it may also refer to theatrical,...

al Dutch
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

man "Henry Cornelius Van Sloetten," concerning the discovery of an island in the southern hemisphere
Southern Hemisphere
The Southern Hemisphere is the part of Earth that lies south of the equator. The word hemisphere literally means 'half ball' or "half sphere"...

, populated with the descendants of a small group of castaways.

The book explores the story of these castaways--the British George Pine and four female survivors, who are shipwreck
A shipwreck is what remains of a ship that has wrecked, either sunk or beached. Whatever the cause, a sunken ship or a wrecked ship is a physical example of the event: this explains why the two concepts are often overlapping in English....

ed on an idyllic island. Pine finds that the island produces food abundantly with little or no effort, and he soon enjoys a leisurely existence, engaging in open sexual activity with the four women.

Each of the women gives birth to children, who in turn multiply to produce distinct tribes, by which Pine is seen as the patriarch. One of the women, a black slave girl, gives rise to a tribe called the Phills, who increasingly reject the impositions of laws, rules, and Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

 readings which are established in an effort to create some form of social order. Eventually one of the Phills tribe rapes a woman from the stark tribe, starting a civil war
Civil war
A civil war is a war between organized groups within the same nation state or republic, or, less commonly, between two countries created from a formerly-united nation state....

. At this point some Dutch explorers arrive, bringing with them guns which are used to quell the uprising.

The narrative is written from the viewpoint of the Dutch explorers and begins with their arrival and the discovery of a primitive white English-speaking native race. The explorers discover that the islanders are the grand and great-grandchildren of George Pine, and that in just three generations the islanders have lost the technological and industrial advantage of their British origins. They later discover that they possess an axe which lay blunt and never sharpened. The island itself is so productive in terms of food and shelter that the islanders leave newborn babies exposed to the elements with no harm.

While the island is bounteous and abundant the narrative raises questions concerning the morality of idleness and dependence on nature. Questions also exist over the status of the piece as utopian literature; elements of utopian writing are apparent, but there are inversions of the usual pattern. Instead of finding an advanced society from which the travellers can learn, the explorers discover a primitive island race in need of rescue from the brink of civil war. Although the island initially seems a paradise of sexual freedom and idyllic plenty, the story is one of dystopia
A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian, as characterized in books like Brave New World and Nineteen Eighty-Four...

, a devolution into a primitive and crucially unproductive state. The lack of creativity and industry are heightened by the fact that the islanders themselves reproduce in great numbers, leaving in three generations a large population with no scientific or artistic development.

Some critics have pointed to the possibility of Pines deriving from an anagram of penis, alluding to the sexual preoccupation of the early settlers.

The book also has political
Politics is a process by which groups of people make collective decisions. The term is generally applied to the art or science of running governmental or state affairs, including behavior within civil governments, but also applies to institutions, fields, and special interest groups such as the...

 overtones. Neville was an anti-Stuart
-People:*House of Stuart, a royal house of Scotland and England*Clan Stuart of Bute, a Scottish clan*Stuart , people with the surname and given name Stuart-Places:Australia*Stuart, the former name for Alice Springs, Northern Territory...

Republicanism is the ideology of governing a nation as a republic, where the head of state is appointed by means other than heredity, often elections. The exact meaning of republicanism varies depending on the cultural and historical context...

, and as a political exile he was clearly conscious of the socio-political concerns of the end of the early modern period. The island narrative is framed by the story of the Dutch explorers who are more organized and better equipped than the English voyage of three generations earlier, and who are needed to rescue a small English colonial nation-state from chaos. It is interesting to note that the book was written at the end of the Second Anglo-Dutch War
Second Anglo-Dutch War
The Second Anglo–Dutch War was part of a series of four Anglo–Dutch Wars fought between the English and the Dutch in the 17th and 18th centuries for control over the seas and trade routes....


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