Heady tale of a treasure map, a perilous sea journey across the Spanish Main, a mutiny led by the infamous Long John Silver, and a lethal scramble for buried treasure as seen through the eyes of cabin boy Jim Hawkins. An action-packed adventure story that will hypnotize young readers and entertain older ones.
About the Author
Peter Hunt is Professor Emeritus in Children's Literature, University of Cardiff.
Date of Birth:November 13, 1850
Date of Death:December 3, 1894
Place of Birth:Edinburgh, Scotland
Place of Death:Vailima, Samoa
Education:Edinburgh University, 1875
Read an Excerpt
The Old Sea Dog at the
Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17-, and go back to the time when my father kept the "Admiral Benbow" inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.
I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow; a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man; his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulders of his soiled blue coat; his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails; and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:-
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest-
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
in the high, old tottering voice that seemed to have been tuned and broken at the capstan bars. Then he rapped on the door with a bit of stick like a handspike that he carried, and when my father appeared, called roughly for a glass of rum. This, when it was brought to him, he drank slowly, like a connoisseur, lingering on the taste, and still looking about him at the cliffs and up at our signboard.
"This is a handy cove," says he, at length; "and a pleasant sittyated grog-shop. Much company,mate?"
My father told him no, very little company, the more was the pity.
"Well, then," said he, "this is the berth for me. Here you, matey," he cried to the man who trundled the barrow; "bring up alongside and help up my chest. I'll stay here a bit," he continued. "I'm a plain man; rum and bacon and eggs is what I want, and that head up there for to watch ships off. What you mought call me? You mought call me captain. Oh, I see what you're at-there;" and he threw down three or four gold pieces on the threshold. "You can tell me when I've worked through that," says he, looking as fierce as a commander.
And, indeed, bad as his clothes were, and coarsely as he spoke, he had none of the appearance of a man who sailed before the mast; but seemed like a mate or skipper, accustomed to be obeyed or to strike. The man who came with the barrow told us the mail had set him down the morning before at the "Royal George;" that he had inquired what inns there were along the coast, and hearing ours well spoken of, I suppose, and described as lonely, had chosen it from the others for his place of residence. And that was all we could learn of our guest.
He was a very silent man by custom. All day he hung round the cove, or upon the cliffs, with a brass telescope; all evening he sat in a corner of the parlour next the fire, and drank rum and water very strong. Mostly he would not speak when spoken to; only look up sudden and fierce, and blow through his nose like a fog-horn; and we and the people who came about our house soon learned to let him be. Every day, when he came back from his stroll, he would ask if any seafaring men had gone by along the road? At first we thought it was the want of company of his own kind that made him ask this question; but at last we began to see he was desirous to avoid them. When a seaman put up at the "Admiral Benbow" (as now and then some did, making by the coast road for Bristol), he would look in at him through the curtained door before he entered the parlour; and he was always sure to be as silent as a mouse when any such was present. For me, at least, there was no secret about the matter; for I was, in a way, a sharer in his alarms. He had taken me aside one day, and promised me a silver fourpenny on the first of every month if I would only keep my "weather-eye open for a seafaring man with one leg," and let him know the moment he appeared. Often enough, when the first of the month came round, and I applied to him for my wage, he would only blow through his nose at me, and stare me down; but before the week was out he was sure to think better of it, bring me my fourpenny piece, and repeat his orders to look out for "the seafaring man with one leg."
How that personage haunted my dreams, I need scarcely tell you. On stormy nights, when the wind shook the four corners of the house, and the surf roared along the cove and up the cliffs, I would see him in a thousand forms, and with a thousand diabolical expressions. Now the leg would be cut off at the knee, now at the hip; now he was a monstrous kind of a creature who had never had but the one leg, and that in the middle of his body. To see him leap and run and pursue me over hedge and ditch was the worst of nightmares. And altogether I paid pretty dear for my monthly fourpenny piece, in the shape of these abominable fancies.
But though I was so terrified by the idea of the seafaring man with one leg, I was far less afraid of the captain himself than anybody else who knew him. There were nights when he took a deal more rum and water than his head would carry; and then he would sometimes sit and sing his wicked, old, wild sea-songs, minding nobody; but sometimes he would call for glasses round, and force all the trembling company to listen to his stories or bear a chorus to his singing. Often I have heard the house shaking with "Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum;" all the neighbours joining in for dear life, with the fear of death upon them, and each singing louder than the other, to avoid remark. For in these fits he was the most over-riding companion ever known; he would slap his hand on the table for silence all round; he would fly up in a passion of anger at a question, or sometimes because none was put, and so he judged the company was not following his story. Nor would he allow any one to leave the inn till he had drunk himself sleepy and reeled off to bed.
His stories were what frightened people worst of all. Dreadful stories they were; about hanging, and walking the plank, and storms at sea, and the Dry Tortugas, and wild deeds and places on the Spanish Main. By his own account he must have lived his life among some of the wickedest men that God ever allowed upon the sea; and the language in which he told these stories shocked our plain country people almost as much as the crimes that he described. My father was always saying the inn would be ruined, for people would soon cease coming there to be tyrannised over and put down, and sent shivering to their beds; but I really believe his presence did us good. People were frightened at the time, but on looking back they rather liked it; it was a fine excitement in a quiet country life; and there was even a party of the younger men who pretended to admire him, calling him a "true sea-dog," and a "real old salt," and such like names, and saying there was the sort of man that made England terrible at sea.
In one way, indeed, he bade fair to ruin us; for he kept on staying week after week, and at last month after month, so that all the money had been long exhausted, and still my father never plucked up the heart to insist on having more. If ever he mentioned it, the captain blew through his nose so loudly, that you might say he roared, and stared my poor father out of the room. I have seen him wringing his hands after such a rebuff, and I am sure the annoyance and the terror he lived in must have greatly hastened his early and unhappy death.
All the time he lived with us the captain made no change whatever in his dress but to buy some stockings from a hawker. One of the cocks of his hat having fallen down, he let it hang from that day forth, though it was a great annoyance when it blew. I remember the appearance of his coat, which he patched himself up-stairs in his room, and which, before the end, was nothing but patches. He never wrote or received a letter, and he never spoke with any but the neighbours, and with these, for the most part, only when drunk on rum. The great sea-chest none of us had ever seen open.
He was only once crossed, and that was towards the end, when my poor father was far gone in a decline that took him off. Dr. Livesey came late one afternoon to see the patient, took a bit of dinner from my mother, and went into the parlour to smoke a pipe until his horse should come down from the hamlet, for we had no stabling at the old "Benbow." I followed him in, and I remember observing the contrast the neat, bright doctor, with his powder as white as snow, and his bright, black eyes and pleasant manners, made with the coltish country folk, and above all, with that filthy, heavy, bleared scarecrow of a pirate of ours, sitting far gone in rum, with his arms on the table. Suddenly he-the captain, that is-began to pipe up his eternal song:-
"Fifteen men on the dead man's chest-
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest-
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!"
At first I had supposed "the dead man's chest" to be that identical big box of his up-stairs in the front room, and the thought had been mingled in my nightmares with that of the one-legged seafaring man. But by this time we had all long ceased to pay any particular notice to the song; it was new, that night, to nobody but Dr. Livesey, and on him I observed it did not produce an agreeable effect, for he looked up for a moment quite angrily before he went on with his talk to old Taylor, the gardener, on a new cure for the rheumatics. In the meantime, the captain gradually brightened up at his own music, and at last flapped his hand upon the table before him in a way we all knew to mean-silence. The voices stopped at once, all but Dr. Livesey's; he went on as before, speaking clear and kind, and drawing briskly at his pipe between every word or two. The captain glared at him for a while, flapped his hand again, glared still harder, and at last broke out with a villainous, low oath: "Silence, there, between decks!"
"Were you addressing me, sir?" says the doctor; and when the ruffian had told him, with another oath, that this was so, "I have only one thing to say to you, sir," replies the doctor, "that if you keep on drinking rum, the world will soon be quit of a very dirty scoundrel!"
The old fellow's fury was awful. He sprang to his feet, drew and opened a sailor's clasp-knife, and, balancing it open on the palm of his hand, threatened to pin the doctor to the wall.
The doctor never so much as moved. He spoke to him, as before, over his shoulder, and in the same tone of voice; rather high, so that all the room might hear, but perfectly calm and steady:-
"If you do not put that knife this instant in your pocket, I promise, upon my honour, you shall hang at the next assizes."
Then followed a battle of looks between them; but the captain soon knuckled under, put up his weapon, and resumed his seat, grumbling like a beaten dog.
"And now, sir," continued the doctor, "since I now know there's such a fellow in my district, you may count I'll have an eye upon you day and night. I'm not a doctor only; I'm a magistrate; and if I catch a breath of complaint against you, if it's only for a piece of incivility like to-night's, I'll take effectual means to have you hunted down and routed out of this. Let that suffice."
Soon after Dr. Livesey's horse came to the door, and he rode away; but the captain held his peace that evening, and for many evenings to come.
Black Dog Appears
It was not very long after this that there occurred the first of the mysterious events that rid us at last of the captain, though not, as you will see, of his affairs. It was a bitter cold winter, with long, hard frosts and heavy gales; and it was plain from the first that my poor father was little likely to see the spring. He sank daily, and my mother and I had all the inn upon our hands; and were kept busy enough, without paying much regard to our unpleasant guest.
It was one January morning, very early-a pinching, frosty morning-the cove all grey with hoar-frost, the ripple lapping softly on the stones, the sun still low and only touching the hilltops and shining far to seaward. The captain had risen earlier than usual, and set out down the beach, his cutlass swinging under the broad skirts of the old blue coat, his brass telescope under his arm, his hat tilted back upon his head. I remember his breath hanging like smoke in his wake as he strode off, and the last sound I heard of him, as he turned the big rock, was a loud snort of indignation, as though his mind was still running upon Dr. Livesey.
Well, mother was up-stairs with father; and I was laying the breakfast-table against the captain's return, when the parlour door opened, and a man stepped in on whom I had never set my eyes before. He was a pale, tallowy creature, wanting two fingers of the left hand; and, though he wore a cutlass, he did not look much like a fighter. I had always my eye open for seafaring men, with one leg or two, and I remember this one puzzled me. He was not sailorly, and yet he had a smack of the sea about him too.
From the Paperback edition.
Table of Contents
|Suggestions for Further Reading||xxvii|
|Part I||The Old Buccaneer|
|I.||The Old Sea Dog at the "Admiral Benbow"||3|
|II.||Black Dog Appears and Disappears||9|
|III.||The Black Spot||15|
|V.||The Last of the Blind Man||25|
|VI.||The Captain's Papers||30|
|Part II||The Sea Cook|
|VII.||I Go to Bristol||37|
|VIII.||At the Sign of the "Spy-glass"||42|
|IX.||Powder and Arms||47|
|XI.||What I Heard in the Apple Barrel||57|
|XII.||Council of War||62|
|Part III||My Shore Adventure|
|XIII.||How My Shore Adventure Began||69|
|XIV.||The First Blow||74|
|XV.||The Man of the Island||79|
|Part IV||The Stockade|
|XVI.||Narrative Continued by the Doctor: How the Ship Was Abandoned||87|
|XVII.||Narrative Continued by the Doctor: The Jolly-boat's Last Trip||91|
|XVIII.||Narrative Continued by the Doctor: End of the First Day's Fighting||95|
|XIX.||Narrative Resumed by Jim Hawkins: The Garrison in the Stockade||99|
|Part V||My Sea Adventure|
|XXII.||How My Sea Adventure Began||117|
|XXIII.||The Ebb-tide Runs||122|
|XXIV.||The Cruise of the Coracle||126|
|XXV.||I Strike the Jolly Roger||131|
|XXVII.||"Pieces of Eight"||143|
|Part VI||Captain Silver|
|XXVIII.||In the Enemy's Camp||151|
|XXIX.||The Black Spot Again||158|
|XXXI.||The Treasure Hunt--Flint's Pointer||170|
|XXXII.||The Treasure Hunt--The Voice among the Trees||176|
|XXXIII.||The Fall of a Chieftain||181|
|Appendix A||"My First Book" (1894)||191|
|Appendix B||Tales of a Traveller||201|
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is one of my favorite adventure stories, for anybody who enjoys action, adventure, and thrill, they should definitely buy this book. This book was so excellent I had to pass it on to somebody else so they could enjoy it just as well. I highly recommend it!
I felt this was a rather good book that seemed to really start the pirate tales that have gone through to the Pirate of the Caribbean movies. I thought that the intro was also good and did explain where Stevenson got his ideas for the book, and much better than the intro for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which I felt gave the ending away too early. I was hoping the book would be a bit more exciting, but there was enough action throughout. I have read better books, but I have also read worse, so that is why I gave this book 4 stars.
The Treasure Island is a fascinating read. It has such original characters that has been reinvented throughout the decades. Anyone who likes sea voyage, pirate stories will love the beginnings of such stories in Stevenson's cleverly portrayed novel. The characters are fun and interesting, the plot is actionful there is always another secret to solve in the story.
The novel is, of course, a classic adventure story. Unfortunately, this edition is poorly done. Among other flaws, it lacks an illustration of the treasure map, which is critical to the story. Instead of traditional quotation marks, it uses some odd invention that is distracting. I took the book to my local B & N store, where the clerk agreed with my negative assessment of this edition and where I quickly found an excellent version of the book. I bought it and gave it to my grandchildren, as was planned. The story's book was actually less expensive, too, so this all ended happily. But ditch the edition I ordered online. It is substandard.
Jim, the protagonist, is just a boy, that works at the Admiral Benbox Inn, but he can see that Billy Bones is a nervous man, always alert and watching for stangers arriving at the inn. And he has the right to be nervous, because he possesses a map drawn by Capitan Flint, the most feared pirate to ever roam the high seas.
Well, Flint died, but there's plenty of men who served with Capitan Flint still alive who feel they deserve a fair share of the treasure. The map, though, ends up with Jim Hawkins. (it's a near thing, read the book to find out how that happens). Jim confides in the local doctor and squire, who work together to acquire a ship, a crew, and provisions to sail for Treasure Island. There is a weak link though, because although Squire Trelawney is well-intentioned, he has a big mouth. By the time the Hispaniola is ready for sea, she is boarded by the old murderous mob who sailed with Flint!
There's a scene in the book where Jim, hiding in a barrel on deck, discovers that mutiny is planned. The numbers suggest that the pirates are going to take over the ship and make this journey their own, taking all the treasure for themselves. There are nineteen mutineers and seven honest men, including Jim, aboard the ship.
And now....this book will have you pining to see what happens next. This is a fantastic story of double-crossing and deceit, bravery and cowardice. I don't know how things would have turned out if Jim hadn't been involved. For it is he who finds Ben Gunn, marooned on the island, half-mad with isolation. And it is Jim who single-handedly steals the Hispaniola from under the very noses of the pirates and sails her round the island to a secret beaching place.
And do you know what happens to Long John Silver, the greatest double-crosser of them all? A true classic my dad read to me when I was young.
Not An Ordinary Treasure Hunt By Mac Treasure Island By Robert Louis Stevenson 304 pgs. $4.45. (Young Adult; ages 13 and up) “Reading” is usually something a teenager doesn’t want to hear. But when you read Treasure Island, your mind goes off into to a great land where it is just you and the book. Robert Louis Stevenson created a fiction novel that makes you think. It makes you want to know what is going to happen next. You are more focused on finding the treasure in this book. What starts off a little slow turns into a great adventure on which you will embark with the protagonist named Jim. Robert Louis Stevenson, a Scottish author, wrote “Treasure Island” in 1884. Even though this book has some age on it doesn’t mean it is not good. “Treasure Island” is a classic for many reasons. “Treasure Island” is a book that will take you on an adventure that you will never forget. It starts off with a young boy named Jim. Jim and his parents own a Inn near the ocean. Jim helps out at the “Admiral Bow”. Jim met one “customer” one day that would change his life forever. They called him Captain. Captain was an odd man that created the story. The Captain’s personality was spine chilling. They said he was a mean man. He showed it when the book described this, “The old fellow’s fury was awful. He sprang to his feet, drew and opened a sailor’s clasp-knife, and balancing it open on the palm of his hand, threatened to pin the doctor to the wall.”(17). That just got the book started. There was more to come. Jim, the protagonist, was a very adventurous kid. He had to grow up fast when he learned he had to embark on a journey with a crew of older men. It took them to Treasure Island. The story got a lot more intense as it went on. It even pushed Long John to the edge. He said, “That’s enough, cap’n,” shouted Long John ,“A word from you’s enough. I know a gentleman, and you may lay to that.” (336). Tension gets high when treasure is put on the line. Long, the captain of the crew, wanted to find that treasure. Jim meets tons of people on his journey. He makes friends and enemies. He learns from mistakes. Jim learns that he can put himself apart from others and still accomplish things. As you read this book, you have to remember Jim is not an adult. He is just a really mature kid. The kid shows in him at times when he is a little too curious. He knows he can do what the other crewmembers can. Jim will prove to the people that he is not a little kid anymore. Keep reading this wonderful novel to find out what happens next. You will not want to put down the book once you start. This book will keep you guessing. There is something awesome happening in “Treasure Island”. This adventurous book will make you have chills running down your back. This book has you on the edge. This book shows you the build up to adventure, the adventure, and what happens after the adventure. When you start the journey to Treasure Island, you will be in your own world with Jim and his shipmates. This book would be a 4 out of 5 stars for me. I like it but I really don’t love pirate adventures. This is still a great read and I recommend it to anyone that loves adventure.
Very awesome I love Robert Lious Stevenston
A must read for anyone interested in pirate literature.
It is an ok book but it is kind of confusing but all in all it is a good book
This Classic Literature novel by Robert Louis Stevenson is really good book has shown the adventure and the action. Stevenson created delightful story of an amazing treasure hunt. As this novel takes place way back into the eighteenth century, the adventure started from a young boy named Jim Hawkins having a mysterious treasure map from the most feared pirate to ever roam the seas. On this voyage, the author draws attention with rumors of betrayal among the crew. Jim discovers that mutiny is planned and is the hero of the pirate tale. I will recommend to read this book especially the people who like action, the pirate adventure, and sensation. This has enough action for the reader to keep the interest of what happens to Long John Silver, the greatest double-crosser of the pirates in the ship "Hispaniola". I read this book back in middle school and got really fascinated. Now that I read it again, I love this classic even more.
Do not buy because there is a different book called 25 children books that is $3 and has 25 other stories includeing this title!
A classic. Loved it.
The popular image of a pirate has come to be a peg-legged, grammatically-incorrect, rum-fancying gold-seeker, usually of the selfish and corruptible variety (possibly with a parrot perched on the shoulder). Everyone knows a pirate cannot be trusted, because they are either risking their life for gold, or risking the lives of others for their own safety. This universally accepted pirate lore is largely indebted to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, a classic novel starring the young Jim Hawkins and his quest for treasure on an abandoned island. The story begins at Jim's home, the Admiral Benbow Inn, where his father is slowly passing away and a dilapidated old seaman has made himself at home. "The captain," as everyone calls him, steers clear of any obvious seamen, and warns Jim of a one-legged sailor. When Jim's father dies and strange and unwelcome men come knocking at the inn in search of the captain, the boy finds himself in the midst of an epic and dangerous adventure aboard The Hispaniola, a ship sailing toward the legendary island where Captain Flint buried his treasure. Treasure Island remains a cherished story to this day for many reasons. For one, Stevenson expertly crafts the protagonist, Jim Hawkins. Jim is a smart and resourceful young man. He has just lost his father, his mother is an ocean away, and the threat of death is around every corner, and yet he does anything but curl up and hide. In fact, his biggest fault is his undying bravery - his tendency to act before really thinking things through, but always in the best interest of his friends. Luckily for Jim and his comrades, such as the intelligent Dr. Livesey and the hardnosed Captain Smollett, his foolhardy actions often work out for the better. As Jim survives close shaves with the treacherous ocean and the backstabbing pirates, readers can see him evolving from a sad and scared young boy into a confident and honorable young man. Another gem within Stevenson's tale is the duplicitous Long John Silver, the peg-legged sailor that is a respected sea-cook one second and a mutinous captain the next. Silver is the ultimate pirate, always conniving and talking his way toward both treasure and survival. One never really knows whose side Silver is on, though it can be certain he is always doing what is best for himself. Stevenson gives Silver the ability to turn words and manipulate his fellow buccaneers - so well, in fact, that I often found myself wondering just what his intentions were. Was Silver really all that bad? Could he get any worse? Treasure Island is filled with mystery, deceit, yo-ho-hos, and bottles of rum - a true pirate's tale complete with plenty of action to keep the pages turning. From Captain Hook to Jack Sparrow to the popular Muppet's Treasure Island, bits of Stevenson's timeless story live on to this day. If you are interested in reading where the world of piracy and treasure-hunting first came to form, X marks the spot on Treasure Island - you're sure to find what you're looking for from the first sentence to the last. Check out BaltimoreReads on wordpress!
Thos rp is most likely dead
Do you have to be the son or daughter of a villain or superhero?
This is not the classic I was expecting. I can see the roots of adventure stories, all the original establishment of what have become pirate cliches, but I just wasn't grabbed for most of the story and I'm not sure why that is. Some of Jim Hawkin's actions were too reckless for me to believe and I never grew close to his character, but then I lack the 19th century sense of British forthrightness that might have made me think his decisions more rational. Long John Silver I did like and appreciate throughout, and I was disappointed that his story's ending lacked any sort of power; you can see how this has been corrected in any movie rendition. Among RLS' works, his Jekyl and Hyde remains my favourite.
I read the "Jr." version of this as a kid and enjoyed it again as a 40 year old... I'm looking forward to reading this, a chapter a night, to my son & daughter when they're a little older.
I reread this book at the beginning of this summer, right when the third Pirates movie was coming out. Not only that, but I read it while on vacation at a friend's lakehouse. Needless to say, I spent the entire weekend pretending I was a pirate in my own head. I forgot how much I really do love this book. Even before the Pirates of the Caribbean craze, I've always been partial to pirates - mostly because of this book. I think that since the main character is a young boy, it was easy for me to build a fantasy world to myself using the events in this novel. I spent many a long day, hiding out in the woods pretending to hide from the evil pirates.Overall, a fantastic children's novel. Lush scenery and, despite the cliche, characters that practically leap from the page.
It's slow starting, but once I got to about the middle of the book, I couldn't put it down. It's pretty much a straight-up adventure novel, with action and pirates and everything you could ever want, really.
(Quick disclaimer: I wrote this review for my blog for Talk Like a Pirate Day. Please forgive my grammar and salty dialect as I only take one out of 365 days to actually talk like a pirate!)Treasure Island be the title of this tome and the writer be Cap'n Robert Louis Stevenson! In this adventure set on the high seas, the reader be interduced to the young lad Jim Hawkins, who finds himself in possession of the map to an island filled with buried treasure. Young Jim be recruited as a cabin boy and joins a crew of seasoned sailors lookin' to seek out the loot, and amid these salty dogs is the one legged cook - known by the fearsome name of Long John Silver. Yarr! It be no surprise that Jim overhears Long John Silver plannin' a mutiny but the young lad must take it upon himself to thwart the plans of the filthy pirate, keepin' the treasure and the honest crew members safe.Cap'n Stevenson does a fine job with this swarthy tale of swashbuckling adventure. Older readers as well as the wee little ones will find this story to be a great way to be passin' the time while out at sea. From the parrot that skwaks out "Pieces o' eight" to the singin' of the pirate song "yo ho ho and a bottle o' rum", this story be havin' all a buccaneer could want and rightfully earns its place as a classic.
Everyone's heard of this book. Surprising how much I thought I knew about it without actually having read it. The reality was quite different - more sinister for a start. Not just a load of jolly pirates with peg-legs and parrots stapled to their shoulders. Quite a lot of violence. Kids should love it.
When I was a child I would often peruse a little pamphlet my parents owned. It was titled Hand that Rocks the Cradle and featured ¿a select list of books to read to children.¿ Most of the commentary about the selections was straightforward and a little bit dull, but I¿ve never forgotten what Mr. Bluedom had to say about Robert Louis Stevenson¿s Treasure Island.WARNING: If you read this book you may not be able to enjoy any other book again because you will subconsciously compare it to the perfection of this book and always find it lacking.NOTE 1: If you read this book and find it does not captivate you, then there¿s no hope for you, and you may look upon yourself as a truly sorry case.NOTE 2: If you look up the word ¿adventure¿ you will find listed in the dictionary as its definition ¿circumstances that follow the plot of Treasure Island.¿As it turns out, I have read and enjoyed many books since my dad first read Treasure Island aloud to me many years ago, but nevertheless there is some truth to what Bluedom wrote. Certainly Treasure Island is the essential pirate story, and was instrumental in creating the modern mythos of the backstabbing buccaneer. But I would give it a higher accolade than that, and say that it is one of those great books that attains perfection within the bounds of its genre and, in doing so, transcends the genre. Thus, though it is often referred to as a ¿boy¿s adventure story,¿ it can be enjoyed at all ages. Not all of my childhood favorites have held up as I¿ve grown older, but this has.One of the reasons is Stevenson¿s writing. It¿s perfect. As G. K. Chesterton once wrote, ¿he seemed to pick the right word up on the point of his pen ¿ there was a kind of swordsmanship about it.¿ While his prose may have been richer in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the man always had an unfailing sense of atmosphere, and here every paragraph seems to be steeped in sea salt. I find the haunting introduction of ¿Captain¿ Billy Bones particularly well done:I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow; a tall, strong, heavy nut-brown man; his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulders of his soiled blue coat; his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails; and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white.And then there is Long John Silver, one of those larger-than-life figures who has long since assumed a life beyond what his author intended for him. We tend to think of Silver now as being menacing from the very start of the story (due, no doubt, to actors such as Orson Welles and Tim Curry playing the role on screen), but he is first introduced to us as a lovable old cook with impeccable manners ¿ and he retains those impeccable manners right up until the end of the book, with only occasional glimpses of his true ruthlessness. The conversations between him and Jim Hawkins (our narrator/hero, an honest and likeable lad) are masterpieces of manipulative wordplay.My favorite part of the book, however, has to be the ¿Israel Hands¿ chapter. The situation is very complicated, and the tension incredible. Here are two characters who must work together to safely navigate a ship. At the same time, Jim knows that the wounded Israel is armed and plotting to kill him. And as they work, they talk about ghosts, morality, and the afterlife.¿Well,¿ said I, ¿I¿ll cut you some tobacco; but if I was you and thought myself so badly, I would go to my prayers, like a Christian man.¿¿Why?¿ said he. ¿Now, you tell me why.¿¿Why?¿ I cried. ¿You were asking me just now about the dead. You¿ve broken your trust; you¿ve lived in sin and lies and blood; there¿s a man you killed lying at your feet this moment; and you ask me why! For God's mercy, Mr. Hands, that¿s why.¿My only complaint with the book is that the ending is rushed and less exciting than I remember. But that is a min
A true adventure classic.
Well, clearly it"s rollicking, and this time around I both really enjoyed Treasure Island (mini-barrage of sea books since I"ve been in landlocked Austria) and got a bit of clarity on whey I never enjoyed it quite as much as I wanted or expected to (I did love it, but never quite quite enough for my dad, who read it to me when he was crazy busy with the paper and basically saw it as the end- and be-all of boy"s own adventure stories, bar none. Come to think of it that probably does a lot to inform the way he feelz out in the boat nowdays). It"s the beginning! Stevenson seemed to be worried the kids wouldn"t relate, to judge by the intro to this edition, and so he set it out for them REALLY painstakingly - "Here"s a PLAUSIBLE way a kid JUST LIKE YOU could actually have a real pirate adventure. Watch as I lead you through the steps from your workaday farm life." Annoying! And of course, these days, unnecessary - generations raised on astronaut dreams have no trouble expanding their horizons to imagine going to see. Other than that, wonderful, wonderful, and I found Silver a lot more ambiguous and compelling and Ben Gunn a little more cheesy than I did when I was seven.