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Literature / Hobson's Island

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Hobson's Island is the last novel by the Polish-British writer Stefan Themerson. The plot revolves around the eponymous lonely island, inhabited for years solely by the Shepherd family, before, in the late eighties, it suddenly becomes a point of interest to several powerful people and organizations.

Serious and philosophical with a dash of comedy, the novel shares its setting with Themerson's previous novels and is, in a way, a conclusion to this universe.


Tropes found in this book:

  • Anachronic Order
  • Brother–Sister Incest: Georgina and Gregory Shepherd get married and even have kids. Georgina pulls off a scheme to conceal her identity from visitors.
  • Bulungi: Bukumla. The dictator is one of the viewpoint characters.
  • Death Faked for You: When the dictator of Bukumla is saved, a corpse of one of the revolutionaries is left hanging on a branch and wearing his medals. It's implied that as far as the people want to know, that's the dictator hanging.
  • Die Laughing: What happens to those who touch the bio-weapon monkeys.
  • Double Consciousness: Georgina Shepherd adopts the false identity of "Geraldina Stubbs" for purpose of marrying her brother. At times, she has trouble distinguishing whether she's one person or two.
  • Dramatis Personae
  • Everybody's Dead, Dave: By the end everybody on the island are dead, or, in one case, insane.
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  • Hollywood Atheist: Sean D'Earth loses his faith as a boy when his mother dies and a prayer to God fails to bring her back.
  • The Place
  • Reincarnation: The original Thomas Hobson, owner of the island, believed in reincarnation, and even bequeathed all his possessions to whoever is born at the exact moment of his death, so that he could keep his wealth across reincarnations. It's implied he does get reincarnated, first as a cow, and later as Georgina Shepherd. Georgina, in any case, has oddly vivid memories of Matilda the cow despite being born after its death.
  • The Speechless: Nemo, a stranger who made it onto the island on a raft one day and said no word since. It's suggested he's taken a vow of silence. Except he apparently believes his vow doesn't include constructed languages.
  • Unfortunate Names: The reason Sean D'Eath changed his last name to D'Earth.