Men, on Islands: Ethnomasculinity in The Isle of Pines and Robinson Crusoe

Grayson Del Faro Stocks


This article constructs a cultural model called “ethnomasculinity” in order to explain the complex relationship between colonial enterprise and masculine gender identities in two early fictional texts, The Isle of Pines by Henry Neville and Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe. The model draws a parallel between the rhetoric of colonialism and the rhetoric of gender and shows its operation in two forms, both essentially queer: the Apollonian and the Dionysian. The former is associated with cultural and economic productivity and commodification, the latter primarily with pleasure, and both forms are capable of colonial dominance. The research includes theories on the rise of the novel, especially Firdous Azim’s The Colonial Rise of the Novel, as well as literary and historical studies in gender and in colonialism. This article uses the first pamphlet of The Isle of Pines to illustrate the Dionysian form of ethnomasculinity, performs a queer reading of the relationship between Robinson, Friday, and his island to illustrate the Apollonian, and finally describes the intersections of the two forms as they are seen in the second pamphlet of The Isle of Pines. In essence, the theory accounts for a cultural and literary phenomenon and its place in the rise of the novel, as well as hopes to be productive in the application to texts beyond the two that are examined here.


Colonialism; Masculinity; Henry Neville

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