The Coral Island: A Tale of the Pacific Ocean (1858) is a novel written by Scottish author R. M. Ballantyne. One of the first works of juvenile fiction to feature exclusively juvenile heroes, the story relates the adventures of three boys marooned on a South Pacific island, the only survivors of a shipwreck.
A typical Robinsonade – a genre of fiction inspired by Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe – and one of the most popular of its type, the book first went on sale in late 1857 and has never been out of print. Among the novel’s major themes are the civilising effect of Christianity, 19th-century British imperialism in the South Pacific, and the importance of hierarchy and leadership. It was the inspiration for William Golding’s dystopian novel Lord of the Flies (1954), which inverted the morality of The Coral Island; in Ballantyne’s story the children encounter evil, but in Lord of the Flies evil is within them.
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