What’s the Use of History?

So asks John Pepall in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of the Dorchester Review. Not that he really thinks there's any question. As he informs us on page one, The use of history, the only use of history, is its being known and understood by the general public, those of us who are not historians, not producers … Continue reading What’s the Use of History?

Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 3: Conclusion)

[Earlier episodes: Part 1; Part 2] As we’ve seen, there were a variety of lenses through which to read Neville’s novel, from travel account to political parable to biblical allegory to niche pornography. The Isle of Pines’s close attention to population registered differently depending on the lens. To readers who kept a weather eye on … Continue reading Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 3: Conclusion)

Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 2)

[Earlier episode: Part 1] The Old Testament was familiar with the likes of George Pine: long-lived, polygamous survivors of disaster who founded new societies in bounteous and conveniently depopulated landscapes. In the Isle of Pines, for his part, Neville described a second Eden, “always clothed in green, and full of pleasant fruits, and variety of … Continue reading Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 2)

Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 1)

Henry Neville (1620-94) was a republican political thinker in an era of civil war, regicide, constitutional experimentation, and resurgent monarchy; he translated Machiavelli’s works and traced republicanism’s heritage back to Moses. He is now better known, however, for a short work of faintly pornographic utopian fiction, The Isle of Pines. Couched as a Dutch sea-captain’s … Continue reading Return to Penis Island: Or, the surprising trajectories of early modern population thought (Part 1)