Contemplating the title

As I read, I am struck again and again by the meaning of “small island.”  I think it springs up all over in different ways and suggests different interpretations. At first I was thinking that it simply referred to their place of origin, and then I began to see how it is also the island of Great Britain, which may look big to some but is actually very small in the world view.  I have not completely delved into this or refined my thinking, but just thought I would throw this out as I was marching along.

By the way, am I supposed to be into the third book now???


One Response to “Contemplating the title”

  1. maggiepatrick says:

    Judy, I’m so glad that you brought up the subject of the title–it’s one that I’ve been considering too as I work toward the book’s conclusion. When I write papers or articles the title is generally one of the most difficult aspects of completing the project; rarely have I enjoyed the subtlety and depth of a title as much as I have appreciated Andrea Levy’s here. Two small words, each with such simple meaning, convey myriad interpretations and each is a reflection of the four narrators and their perception of place, home, and nationality. As you mention, Great Britain is so small compared to most other countries in the world (a notion of which Bertrand would be especially sensitive), and I would argue that for Gilbert and Hortense this great Mother Country of opportunity comes to feel smaller and more restrictive than their much tinier island of Jamaica. I also like that the title’s simplicity is reflective of the book’s narrative: simple in terms of characters, events, and language, and yet deeply complex and provocative in terms of emotions and ideas.

    In case you (and other readers) are interested, by the way, I found a wonderful podcast from the BBC to complement the one that Carrie posted earlier from the Guardian:

    And now, on to 31 Hours!

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