Tuesday, January 07, 2014

R L Stevenson - Treasure Island

Treasure Island-Scribner's-1911.jpg
While reading recently about real life pirates, I decided to read R.L. Stevenson's classic novel Treasure Island. Reading it was a fascinating experience. I'd never read it before, yet the story was as familiar as if I had read it half a dozen times. No doubt this is because it is one of the most dramatised books ever published, being made repeatedly into a film and play.

So there is little point in detailing more in this review. Though it is worth noting that many of the popular conceptions about pirates had their beginnings here. Wooden legs, parrots on shoulders, Yo Ho Hoing, black spots and treasure islands. The popularity of the book must in part lie in its writing - the story is gripping and exciting, yet the characters are also wonderfully constructed. Blind Pew is terrifying as he taps his way around, the moment he grabs Jim Hawkins genuinely scary... Long John Silver is delightfully ambiguous in his morals and Hawkin's climatic battle with Mr. Hands is as exciting as gunfight ever imagined on the silver screen. The only characters that annoyed me, are the uptight and holier-than-thou Squire and Doctor. Stevenson slotting in some minor English gentry to demonstrate how the plebs ought to behave.

So if you're only experience of Treasure Island is the Muppet version, you really should dig out a free online copy of the original and follow Jim Hawkins into the South Seas.

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