ABSTRACT. Geography, experience, and imagination are all crucial to how we take measure of islands. Prime foci of legend and invention, islands have haunted humanity since the dawn of history. Why are they so intensely loved and loathed, desired and rejected, minutely scrutinized yet often perilously misjudged? On islands we feel alternately landed and adrift, magnified and reduced, fulfilled and voided, at home and in exile. These and other polarities are reviewed here with examples from Caribbean, Atlantic, Mediterranean, antipodean, and imaginary islands fancied by the creator.