Den allerede moderne strand

Robert Louis Stevensons stillehavsfortællinger




Sydhavsstranden, R.L. Stevenson, realisme, allegori, modernisme, planetær, dekadence


Focusing on the beach’s function as a political and economic liminal zone of negotiation and transformation of identity, the article maps a specific temporal and spatial problem in relation to the beach as geographical and rhetorical topos. Contrary to the romantic invention of the European beach as a temporal refugium free of the metropolis’s modernity, Stevenson’s tales of stranded beachcombers on remote Pacific islands draw a surprising model of the beach as the source and scene of a post-imperialist simulation space based on speculation in risk. The modern and modernist disappointment of never finding the romantic beach translates into an endless search for the next and more distant beach, which at the same time is presented as historically primitive or not yet modern. In Stevenson’s tale this proleptic rhetoric is reversed: The beach is already modern and only more modern, the more distant from the metropolises it is.

The article begins by listing the all-dominant topos in the Pacific literature descriptions of the beach, building on and continuing the classic locus amoenus and the dream of the ultimate beach. Stevenson’s tales are a critique of this romantic formation of the classic topos. This deconstruction is analyzed in two narratives that articulate two different geographical and rhetorical topoi, linked to respectively realism and allegory as literary form. In the final section of the article, the beach is briefly discussed as a decadent place: In Stevenson’s tales, the beach is not a place of renaissance, but a place encompassed by the apocalypse, the impending doom of the earth, and the end of the placeness of all places.


Frits Andersen, Københavns Universitet

Frits Andersen er professor ph.d. og dr. phil. ved Afdeling for Litteraturhistorie, Institut for Kommunikation og Kultur, Aarhus Universitet. Har senest udgivet The Dark Continent – Images of Africa in European Narratives about the Congo (2016), Kampen om de danske slaver – Aktuelle perspektiver på kolonihistorien, med Jakob Ladegaard (2017), Sydhavsøen – Nydelsens geografi (2018).


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Andersen, F. (2020). Den allerede moderne strand: Robert Louis Stevensons stillehavsfortællinger. K&Amp;K - Kultur Og Klasse, 48(130), 39–62.