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R.M. Ballantyne

The Coral Island

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The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean, published in 1858 in is R.M. Ballantyne’s most famous novel. It is one of the pioneer works of juvenile fiction to feature exclusively juvenile heroes. The story relates the adventures of three boys marooned on a South Pacific island, the only survivors of a shipwreck.It is a genre of fiction inspired by Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. It is among the most popular of its type and has never been out of print ever since its first publication. The major themes of the novel are the civilizing effect of Christianity, 19th-century British imperialism in the South Pacific. It is believed to have inspired and the importance of hierarchy and leadership. It was the inspiration for the Nobel Prize winning English author William Golding’s dystopian novel Lord of the Flies (1954).The Coral Island was an almost instant success and was translated into almost every European language within fifty years of its publication. It was widely admired by its contemporary readers.The Coral Island is a classic example of the boy’s adventure story, a prominent genre in the children’s literature of the Victorian period. It started a trend in juvenile fiction by using boys as the main characters, a device now prevalent in the genre. Depicting exotic locales and adventures featuring young male protagonists, the book and others like it dominated boy’s fiction of the late nineteenth century, highlighting the British lifestyle and its Victorian ethos to enthusiastic young readers. The book remains the most enduring work from Ballantyne’s extensive canon and is often figures in the critical writings about the pre-Colonialist children’s literature.The Coral Island was adapted into a four-part children’s television drama broadcast in 2000.


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