To this wonderful book I owe the confirmation of my imagination. As a child I must have heard or read some pirate stories and we played pirate games often. Then in the last year of primary school some muse prompted our teacher to read this book to us last class every Friday. It was wonderful! I could imagine that steamy island, those skeletons, Flint, Long John Silver, the parrot, and Ben Gunn who had survived on his own for years there. I even dreamt about this story. Such an imaginative yarn. I have read it at intervals throughout my life and it gets better each time. What a story teller Stevenson was!--Submitted by Brendan
In an age of declining literacy standards, it is instructive to revisit a work of literature which has done more than almost any other to promote reading among boys. Whether revisiting it or discovering it for the first time, adults will also be enchanted by Stevenson's consummate skills as a story-teller. Treasure Island
is a gripping pirate story, fast-paced by the standards of its time and full of action. For this reason, it has been a staple of school reading lists, at least until the stultifying hand of political correctness started to remove it from the curriculum. Unlike modern attempts to inculcate children with a love of reading through the use of action-packed and exciting stories (think Harry Potter
), Treasure Island
has the merit of being written in faultless and elegant English prose. True, a few expressions sound a little stilted to the modern ear--"If you do not put that knife this instant in your pocket..."
--but the language is wholly accessible to a competent reader in Year 6 or above, and the occasional archaic formulation adds to the old-world charm of the work. This novel also provides a gentle introduction to the genre of nautical adventure stories set in the age of the sail (e.g. Patrick O'Brien's Jack Aubrey novels, now popularised in the Russell Crowe movie 'Master and Commander', and C.S Forester's Hornblower stories, the subject of a 1951 Gregory Peck movie, and the recent Ioan Gruffud mini-series). Adults who have not read this wonderful book will do themselves a favour by trying it. They will do an even bigger favour for their school-age children by introducing them to it.--Submitted by Alan Anderson
If too much adventure seems to be lived on television -- if the "information superhighway" takes away most mysteries in life at an early age -- if playing video games that may concern space emperors and galactical empires, fighting with laser sabers and photon torpedoes is virtually the extent of what your imagination is allowed to process ... try reading Treasure Island
. Somehow, with television, computers and video games, there is a most significant element lost. As you read this classic, you not only root for the good-guy hero, through whose eyes you view the incidents and vicariously live them in your own mind, but you react with far more humanity and empathy as you pretend to live the adventures. All this is true, and so you'll find, because of the masterful story itself and the way author Robert Louis Stevenson gathers your interest with descriptions, curious facts and articles, foreshadowing, and names of characters and places which make you wonder "there's something under" that name, that person, that place, that idea. The action begins when narrator Jim's plain and uneventful life is interrupted by a mysterious new boarder at his family's small inn set in a lonely cove. This new tenant is silent regarding his past except that when he has too much rum to drink, which comes to be quite often, then he sings and tells stories about his rough life on the high seas and the coasts and islands of the Americas. Since he neither has, and plainly doesn't want, any company from his past life, you know it will be only a matter of time when that is imposed on him, and that there has to be a reason he wishes not to be found. When he is found, it's by an old shipmate called Black Dog. What would you make of someone with a nickname like that? And only after this meeting do we find out that his own name, which he had never divulged, is Billy Bones. Why does a dog come looking for bones he has dealt with before? The answer lies buried in the book. And what does the color black represent? Has a friend who can't keep his tongue, but instead likes to tell "secrets," ever got you into trouble? Have you ever experienced a dangerous situation in which your curiosity was stronger than your fear? What does an abstract arrow, like your computer cursor, do? It *points* to something, right? As for points and pointers, you will find those in abundance in this book, from first to last. If you are worried about some of the words and the styles of language used, the above paragraph should allay your fears, as there is a small sample there, and even in this very sentence. You will get used to it, and you will probably come to like a piece of adventure that broadens your vocabulary and acquaints you with settings not so foreign you can't understand, but rather are a different part of civilization that put us where we are today. This novel does that. For a moment in your life, exchange the laser saber for a cutlass, a photon torpedo for a cannon that fires a nine-pound ball, and a stun gun for a black powder pistol. Let calls, whistles, signals and flags take the place of mobile phones and text messages. Let a remote island with tall hills and swamps and springs be your setting, instead of a fenced playground or a computer desk. Think of going to a place of fun and adventure as taking weeks on a ship sailing the ocean, instead of hours in an SUV or a minivan on the highway. But be prepared for one thing which is the same today or two centuries ago... the dividing line between right and wrong, between good guys and bad guys, between responsible and careless, is not always as clear as we might wish. That circumstance can make a great adventure story even greater.--Submitted by Tim Rockfort
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