October 22, 2010

Treasure Island

Wow.  I'd never read it.  One is tempted to make the same joke you always hear about Shakespeare: "But it's full of cliches!"

Yes, but apparently Stevenson got there first.  This is great on many levels, but what I really love is that there are many levels.  It's of course a memorable and exciting adventure.

But, like all the best stories, the good guys aren't all good and the bad guys certainly aren't all bad.  There are some mostly good good guys and extremely wicked bad guys but the main characters are surprisingly multifaceted for such a quickly-paced narrative.

I've read Jekyll and Hyde and see some of the same themes.  Like the alter ego of Hyde, the pirate life seems, at first, to offer more freedom than the class structure of the day until the obvious problems become readily apparent.  "Civilization" doesn't come off all that great at times and seems stuffy and constricting until the dangers of the alternatives become, well, readily apparent.

I was expecting a way more idealized version of the pirates.  Isn't this where all our wonderful pirate mythology stems from?  But I think what captured people's imagination was Long John Silver, not piracy itself.  The rest of those guys are plain ignorant, greedy, drunkards.  Nothing romantic at all.   But Silver, ah, now there's an interesting character.  Johnny Depp owes much to this guy.

And Jim Hawkins!  He could certainly teach Percy Jackson a thing or two.

Tons of fun.  Can't believe I didn't pick this up before now.

Treasure Island

4 comments:

Victoria said...

I read this in 10th grade and should read it again. My sister didn't want to read it because of the dialogue, so she offered it to me. A total win! Great review.

betweenthesepages said...

I am sad to say that I've never read it. I'm actually pretty confident that I own it too, a hardcover, possibly the beautiful edition illustrated by Wyeth. I'm going to have to hunt it up next time I'm in my mother's attic (the holding pen for many of my childhood books as my apartment cannot accommodate them all). Did you find it took forever to read? Should I save it for a school break or summer or do you think I could forge through during the school year. It struck me as impressively long, but if something is good enough, that usually isn't too much of an impediment.

C.B. James said...

This is one I should consider using with my 6th or my 7th graders. I have one sixth grader reading an adapted version right now. He's clearly into it.

It's been decades since I read it myself.

Jim Randolph said...

Victoria,
Glad you liked it!

btp,
It's short. The Wyeth one looks long because of the thick paper and many illustrations but it's well-paced and you can skip the nautical bits.

C.B.,
Sounds good. Although I don't know how into it I'd have been had it been assigned. I was lucky to never have it forced on me. But if it had been a choice among others, I might have gone for it and been happy with the choice.

Thanks,
Jim