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Islandia

by Austin Tappan Wright

Back in print, the underground classic of Utopian fiction "unique, brilliantly conceived and brilliantly executed." The New York Times AUSTIN TAPPAN WRIGHT On his death, Austin Tappan Wright left the world a wholly unsuspected legacy. Among this distinguished legal scholar's papers were thousands of pages devoted to a staggering feat of literary creationa detailed history of an imagined country complete with geography, genealogy, representations from its literature, language and culture. In a monumental labor of love Wright's wife and daughter culled from this material a thousand page novel, as detailed as J.R.R.Tolkien's Middle-earth. Islandia has similarly become a classic touchstone for those concerned with the creation of imaginary worlds. Islandia occupies the southern portion of the Karain Continent, which lies in the Southern Hemisphere. Its civilization is an ancient one, protected from outside intervention by a natural fortress of towering mountains. To this isolated countrythis alien, compelling and totally fascinating worldcomes John Lang, the American consul. As the reader lives with Lang in Islandia, as he comes to know this magnetic land, its unique people, its strange customs, he may very find himself experiencing a feeling of envy, a wish that he, like Lang.be permitted, at the book's end, to return once more and spend the rest of his days in Islandia. A Harvard-educated lawyer, Austin Tappan Wright was born to a distinguished family. His father was Dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University, and his mother was a respected novelist. After serving in the Boston law firm of Louis Brandeis,Wright took faculty positions at the University of California Law School (Berkeley) and the University of Pennsylvania. He died at the age of 48 in an automobile accident leaving thousands of pages of manuscript detailing his lifelong construction of a wholly imagined worldwhat was to become an acknowledged classtopian fantasy, Islandia. +

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