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Defining the Discographic SelfDesert Island Discs in Context$
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Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, and Stephen Cottrell

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780197266175

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197266175.001.0001

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The cultural baggage of the desert island

The cultural baggage of the desert island

(p.35) 2 The cultural baggage of the desert island
Defining the Discographic Self

Will Straw

, Julie Brown, Nicholas Cook, Stephen Cottrell
British Academy

The notion of the desert island disc has its roots in ideas of travel and self-improvement extending at least as far back as the 17th century. Lists of records to be taken to a desert island follow on from collections of books to be taken on long sea voyages. Descriptions of these collections recur throughout 19th century journalism, then become fashionable in the 1910s and 1920s, when the concept of ‘literature as luggage’ enjoys a brief vogue. By the 1930s, musical recordings begin to take their place alongside lists of literary works, laying the groundwork for Desert Island Discs and other manifestations of a music-oriented turn towards personal musical canons. Noting the ways in which such lists move between expressions of personal affinity and acknowledgements of public canons, the chapter traces the evolution of the travel-list and the shipwreck-list through literature and music from the 19th century onward.

Keywords:   canons, ship voyages, collections, travel, lists

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