Adventure at Sea

January 15th, 2011

After finishing Ivanhoe last weekend, I read two whole pages of Milton before gravitating towards a copy of Treasure Island. This was my first foray into the world of Robert Louis Stevenson, unless you count a badly abridged version of The Strange Tale of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that I found in my parents’ Everyman Library.

It was definitely the kind of story, and told in such a fashion, to appeal most strongly to a small boy. I must admit that many of the nautical terms soared as far over my head as the main mast (or is it the boom) of the Hispanolia did over Jim’s. And the constancy of the action was a bit wearing as well. Always getting captured, breaking free, shooting muskets, etc. No time to catch one’s breath at all.

Treasure Island

I did enjoy the sense that I was reading doubly historical fiction, since Stevenson was writing an 18th century story in the later part of the 19th century. I question his accuracy on a number of points though; Margaret Mitchell got quite a few things wrong when she was writing Gone With the Wind over half a century after the Civil War, for example.

Overall, it was an enjoyable tale and easy to read. In addition, Treasure Island is the source of most pirate conventions and many well-worn characters: “Barbeque,” “Long John Silver,” “pieces-of-eight,” etc. I believe J. M. Barrie must owe a great deal of his inspiration for Peter Pan’s adventures among the pirates to Treasure Island. I am always on the look-out for the books that inspired my pet authors. It makes the later works even more enjoyable, to know from where their bits and pieces came.

Milton lays accusingly on my desk. My gaze shifts uneasily to a bookshelf on the other side of the room, hoping for yet another postponement…

  • Zoh says:

    oh! treasure island was the favorite book of my brother and I when we were children. We used to run around giving each other “the black spot” — an endlessly amusing passtime that perplexed my parents.

    That was before we discovered PBS history specials on witchcraft and started dunking my barbie dolls in the toilet trying to get them to confess… so I think she probably now thinks back on the black spot days with nostalgia. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • eva says:

      You guys are awesome! I definitely think we need to organize a nautical night. You and Justin can greet all the guests with “black spots” at the door…

  • The Never Fairy says:

    Actually, it may have been mutual between Barrie and Stevenson.
    They were great friends. And you’ll notice that “Barbecue” (Silver) is mentioned in Peter and Wendy (the book form of ‘Peter Pan’) ๐Ÿ˜€

    Treasure Island is such a great book, as is Peter and Wendy

    If you’re into Pan (and pirates) here are two more great books to read…
    A story based on Barrieโ€™s own idea for more:
    And a great ‘What if?’ adventure (but it’s not for the kids!) that deals much more with the pirates: Click!

    • eva says:

      That makes such perfect sense, that Barrie and Stevenson would have been friends! Thanks for the enlightenment.

      I loved Peter and Wendy growing up — also Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens. My favorite Barrie novel by far though is My Lady Nicotine. Definitely not for the nursery set though ;-).

      I will definitely check out the books you recommend. Thank you. Are you a pirate enthusiast yourself?

  • The Never Fairy says:

    More so into Pan than pirates. But pirates rock. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    And I hope you get both books. Get the paperback of PPNW, it’s cheaper PLUS it has a few more little pics.

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