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