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y separately published work icon To the Islands single work   novel  
Issue Details: First known date: 1958... 1958 To the Islands
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'To the Islands concerns the ordeal of Stephen Heriot, an elderly, careworn, and disillusioned Anglican missionary who abandons his mission when he mistakenly believes he has accidentally killed one of his Aboriginal charges in a not entirely unprovoked confrontation. Heriot flees into the desert not to escape justice but to embrace its desolate beauty and its elemental purity as the one objective reality and the one certainty left available to him.

Heriot's flight and his embrace of the desert may be seen as his attempt, as a European Australian, to immerse himself in the landscape, to make himself one with the land. At this realistic level, the novel enacts the ontological and existential dilemma that confronts most — if not all — European Australians, the dilemma that Professor Hassall [in his introduction to the 2002 UQP Australian Authors version] defines as the continuing quest for psychic integration, for reconciliation with indigenous Australians, and with the land itself.'

Wells-Green, James. [Untitled Review.] JAS Review of Books 15 (May 2003)




form y separately published work icon To the Islands : A Play for Broadcasting Joy Hollyer , (Manuscript version)x401241 Z980707 single work radio play

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  • Dedication: To Sally Gare and Bill Jamison with admiration
  • Epigraph: My cell 'tis, lady, where instead of masks, Music, tilts, tourneys and such courtlike shows, The hollow murmur of the checkless winds Shall groan again; while the uinquiet sea Shakes the whole rock with foamy battery. There usherless the air comes in and out: The rheumy vault will force your eyes to weep, Whilst you behold true desolation. A rocky barrenness shall pierce your eyes, Where all at once one reaches where he stands, With brows the roof, both walls with both his hands. Marston: The Malcontent
  • Author's note: This is not, by intention, a realistic novel; no white character, therefore, and no major incident in the plot, is drawn from life. ... R. S.
  • Study guides available.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

    • London,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      MacDonald ,
      1958 .
      image of person or book cover 59824622383916582.jpg
      This image has been sourced from online.
      Extent: 204p.
    • Boston, Massachusetts,
      United States of America (USA),
      Little, Brown ,
      1958 .
      Extent: 204p.
      Edition info: 1st American edition
    • Harmondsworth, Middlesex,
      United Kingdom (UK),
      Western Europe, Europe,
      Mitcham, Blackburn - Mitcham - Vermont area, Melbourne - East, Melbourne, Victoria,: Penguin ,
      1962 .
      image of person or book cover 4501485921544763673.jpg
      1962 paperback edition cover. This image has been sourced from the website of Perry Middlemiss
      Extent: 208p.
      Reprinted: 1971 , 1974 , 1975
      • 'An Australian Penguin Book' (Cover)
      • Printed in Australia.
      Series: Australian Penguin Books Penguin (publisher), series - publisher Number in series: AU1
    • Melbourne, Victoria,: Text Publishing , 2015 .
      image of person or book cover 7714490771422074299.jpeg
      Image courtesy of publisher's website.
      • Introduction by Bernadette Brennan.
      ISBN: 9781922253101
      Series: y separately published work icon Text Classics Text Publishing (publisher), Melbourne : Text Publishing , 2012- Z1851461 2012 series - publisher novel 'Great books by great Australian storytellers.' (Text website.)
Alternative title: Zu jenen Inseln : Roman
Language: German

Other Formats

  • Braille.
  • Sound recording.

Works about this Work

The Randolph Stow Memorial Lecture Andrew Lynch , 2019 single work criticism
— Appears in: Westerly , vol. 64 no. 1 2019; (p. 142-150)
'It’s a great honour for me to be asked to give this memorial lecture for Randolph Stow. Thanks to the Westerly Centre and the Festival for inviting me. Stow’s writing has been a part of my life since my early twenties, when I was given the Penguin To the Islands (1962) as a birthday present. I didn’t know then that when Stow wrote it he was the same age as me reading it, or that it was his third published novel. After that, I read The Merry-go-Round in the Sea (1965) and Tourmaline (1963). Then in my early years here at the University of Western Australia (UWA) I first read two more: Visitants (1979) and The Girl Green as Elderflower (1980). Quite a few years later, after many re-readings, I think of Stow as a great artist, a poet amongst the English-language novelists of his time.' (Introduction)
Lost and Found in Translation : Who Can Talk to Country? Kim Mahood , 2019 single work essay
— Appears in: Griffith Review , January no. 63 2019; (p. 29-46)

'Unlike many city-dwelling Australians, the desert holds no terrors for me. Instead, like DH Lawrence, I find the cathedral forests of the coastal regions oppressive and disquieting. Lawrence brought to his descriptions of the Australian bush the same overwrought sensitivity that created the claustrophobic emotional landscape of 'Sons and Lovers', and the appalling, majestic insularity of the Italian mountain village in 'The Lost Girl'. He was the writer who made explicit the sense of some non-human presence in the Antipodean landscape, and while I have a different interpretation of the 'speechless, aimless solitariness' he attributes to the country, his instincts were good.'  (Publication abstract)


Why Are Australian Authors Obsessed with Killing off Kangaroos? Donna Mazza , 2019 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 4 March 2019;

'Kangaroos are the most visible of Australia’s unique animals, but despite their charm and national icon status, Australian writers perpetually kill them off.' (Introduction)

Aboriginal Testimony, Trauma and Fiction : Transcribing Massacre in Randolph Stow’s To the Islands Kate Leah Rendell , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: TEXT Special Issue Website Series , no. 42 2017;

'In 1957 the young writer Randolph Stow travelled to Forrest River Mission in East Kimberley, Western Australia to conduct research for a new novel. His experiences and observations at the mission over four months resulted in the publication of his Miles Franklin Award-winning book To the Islands (1958). A novel that fluctuates between the symbolic imperatives of the central narrative and the material realities of Forrest River, To the Islands is both a remarkable and uneasy representation of place. Particularly unsettling is Stow’s inclusion of an oral account of massacre taken down verbatim at the mission in 1957. Arguing that this massacre narrative represents a moment of slippage in the novel – whereby the localised trauma of Forrest River can be seen to infiltrate Stow’s King Lear-like narrative – this paper draws on recent archival research to suggest the massacre account in To the Islands allows a momentary and profound register of colonial violence, not otherwise expressed in the novel.' (Publication abstract)

In Conscious Exile Geordie Williamson , 2015 single work criticism
— Appears in: The Monthly , November no. 117 2015; (p. 58-59)
'The Text Classics series has had some coups since its inauguration in 2012 - re-publication of works by David Ireland and Elizabeth Harrower spring to mind - but nothing on this scale. In August, Text reissued five novels by Randolph Stow, with accompanying essays by significant Australian writers and critics.' (Author's introduction)
Remembering Stow Thomas Shapcott , 2002-2003 single work review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , December-January no. 247 2002-2003; (p. 64)

— Review of To the Islands Randolph Stow , 1958 single work novel ; Tourmaline Randolph Stow , 1963 single work novel
[Review] To the Islands James Wells-Green , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: JAS Review of Books , May no. 15 2003;

— Review of To the Islands Randolph Stow , 1958 single work novel
Allusive but Timely Elizabeth Perkins , 2002 single work review
— Appears in: Social Alternatives , Spring vol. 21 no. 4 2002; (p. 57-58)

— Review of Tourmaline Randolph Stow , 1963 single work novel ; To the Islands Randolph Stow , 1958 single work novel
[Review] To the Islands Christian Mondeil , 2003 single work review
— Appears in: Fiction Focus : New Titles for Teenagers , vol. 17 no. 3 2003; (p. 67-68)

— Review of To the Islands Randolph Stow , 1958 single work novel
Spiritual Journeys Hold Plenty of Intrigue Herb Hild , 1992 single work review
— Appears in: The Canberra Times , 12 January 1992; (p. 19)

— Review of Corroboree Graham Masterton , 1984 single work novel ; Tourmaline Randolph Stow , 1963 single work novel ; To the Islands Randolph Stow , 1958 single work novel ; The Girl Green as Elderflower Randolph Stow , 1980 single work novel
Messiahs and Millennia in Randolph Stow's Novels Robyn Wallace , 1981 single work criticism
— Appears in: Kunapipi , vol. 3 no. 2 1981; (p. 56-72)

'The novels I shall concentrate on in discussing messiahs and millennia in Stow's work are To the Islands, Tourmaline, Visitants, and The Girl Green as Elderflower. Tourmaline and Visitants are the two which most clearly relate to millenarian themes. Tourmaline records the growth, and collapse, of a millenarian cult centred on the messianic or would-be messianic figure of the diviner Michael Random. Visitants is a structurally more complex exploration of three millenarian visions and their communal and personal repercussions, although the connotations of the title are not restricted to cargo or flying saucer cults.' (Publication abstract)

Australian 'Everymans' : Post-Medieval Spiritual Adventurers Margaret Rogerson , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: Medievalism and the Gothic in Australian Culture 2006; (p. 81-97)
Margaret Rogerson demonstrates types of medievalism in Australian literature, through a discussion of the deployment of the 'everyman' figure.
Remembering Victims and Perpetrators Klaus Neumann , 1998 single work criticism
— Appears in: UTS Review , May vol. 4 no. 1 1998; (p. 1-17)
Randolph Stow's Tourmaline and To the Islands Gerald Moore , 1987 single work criticism
— Appears in: The International Fiction Review , vol. 14 no. 2 1987; (p. 68-74)
Vanishing Wunderkind Anthony J. Hassall , 2009 single work criticism
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September no. 314 2009; (p. 29-31)
Last amended 30 Apr 2020 10:45:54