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Thursday, 22 March 2012

Treasure Island

Robert Louis Stephenson's adventure, first published in 1886, is probably the finest children's book ever written. Although usually seen as 'a boy's book' it is so well written it is suitable for girls as well and adults too for that matter. The three-dimensional characters, suspenseful plot and beautifully written language which flows with rhythm and cadence make it a memorable work which, if read by a child of, say, twelve or older will stay with them for life.

Our modern-day concept of pirates is based on Long-John Silver, Blind Pew, Black Dog, Israel Hands and the other creations of Stephenson. Most pirate adventures on screen or on the page rely on the devices created by Stephenson. For example the idea of buried treasure and a secret map with 'X' marking the spot, the notion of betrayal, redemption and good versus evil are all strong elements in his writing.

Jim Hawkins, the cabin boy, who is at the heart of the story is someone that every young boy wants to emulate. The Hispaniola is possibly the most famous ship that never existed!
An interesting side-note is that Stephenson spent his honeymoon in the Napa Valley, California and used descriptions of the scenery which he wrote at the time  to describe Treasure Island. Also, after the book had been published he spent a month by the Manasquan River in Brielle, New Jersey and visited an island in the river then known as Osborn Island and now known as Nienstedt Island. He referred to it as Treasure Island and the name was popular for while.
I hope that, if you have never read this book, you are now tempted to read it. If so you are in for a treat. When I told the story to seven-year-old Sonny he wouldn't let me stop so don't deprive yourself or any children in your care! 
I won't give any more details of the plot except to say that the story opens when mysterious men come looking for a retired 'sea dog' who is living in the inn run by Jim Hawkins' parents on the south coast of England. They ransack his room looking for something but they can't find it. They leave angrily threatening to return.........


The Blogger Formerly Known As said...

I recently read this on Facebook: “To err is human. To arr is pirate.”

Not sure if this is a quote from Treasure Island or not?

Austan said...

Treasure Island was one of the first books I read when I was 5 or 6. (My family is all boys but me, it was read "boys'" books or have nothing to read.) I reread it years later, at 11 or 12. And now I think I'll read it again. It really is one of the best stories ever written. Thanks bazza!

bazza said...

'Blogger Formerly Known As': My little grandson loves pirate jokes;-
What does a pirate drive, Grandad?
I don't know Sonny, what does a pirate drive?
A carrrgh!

bazza said...

Austan: Five is very young to read it! Possibly a bit scary? But I suppose being surrounded by boys nothing could scare you.

klahanie said...

Hey bazza!
One of my all time favourite books. Although these days, this green and pleasant land has been referred to as 'Treasure Island' as in rip-off Britain!
Oops, these exclamation marks must be contagious....
Take care buddy :)

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

It is a great story and I remember the enjoyment I had reading it when I was a child.

David said...

Dear bazza,
I do have a copy of "Treasure Island" (quite an old one), but I have never actually read it. I also have copies of "Kidnapped", "The Black Arrow", "The Master of Ballantrae", "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and "Catriona", the only one of which I've actually read is "Dr. Jekyll...". It may be time for me to become more familiar with Stevenson's work. I enjoyed "Dr. Jekyll..." greatly, and your post has made me want to read "Treasure Island" straight away!
Thanks, bazza,

John said...

Arrr, Jim lad,
Another post which leaves us all feeling a bit more educated Bazza, thank you.
I have read Treasure Island, many years ago as a nipper, I must do so again.

bazza said...

Gary: Did you know that I now have my overuse of exclamation marks under control?????? Doh! Who am I kidding?
I knew that, as a man of erudite distinction, you would be a fan of Treasure Island.

bazza said...

Arleen, Starting Over: I knew it didn't have to just be a boy's book as it is often described. Thanks for visiting.

bazza said...

David: Kidnapped is also a great book. I haven't read the others but I believe that all of his work is of the very highest standard.
Enjoy your first encounter with this wonderful tale.

bazza said...

John: I think we all retain affection for the first books that entertained and amazed us. I saw an old edition of The Eagle comic recently and hugely enjoyed reading it.
I hope you enjoy re-reading Treasure Island!

momto8 said...

we just rented this movie a few months ago, after the boys read the book. It was fun to watch. I was a little shocked at all the gin!!!
I am your newest follower..pls follow back if you can.

bazza said...

momto8: Hi, thanks for visiting.It's seven minutes past nine in the UK now.
Why did you stop at 8 kids? You could have gone for the complete soccer team! My mother was one of eight children and it's great to have so many cousins now.
Treasure Island certainly seems to be popular. I think Sky TV have a new version coming soon.
I will look in at your site shortly!

joanne fox said...

I haven't read Treasure Island, but I love Kidnapped.

Recently I was working on a story and I had one of the characters named Jim Hawkins. This kept nagging at me, because I was sure I'd got this name from somewhere! Luckily I did check on Google, which confirmed that this was maybe not the best choice of name. It's funny how the mind works at storing away things we are not consciously aware of.

Lauren said...

I never read the book. But if I ever read something longer than 400 words, I'll definitely consider reading it.

Thanks for the info. Love learning something new.

bazza said...

Lauren: Hi, aren't you a writer? Actually I often shorten the length of a post before publishing. People these days have the attention span of a.....what was I saying?

bazza said...

Joanne: Character naming is a fascinating topic in itself. The late Richard Condon (Manchurian Candidate) proposed establishing a register of fictional names from which author's could 'borrow' for use in their novels! He had a different character in each of his 20 or so books called Frank Heller. Sometimes Frank was a very minor player and other times more crucial.
He also had a quotation in the frontpiece of nearly every book from which the title was taken purporting to be from The Keener's Manual, which was his own invention.
For example:
"The riches I bring you
Crowded and shoving
Are the envy of princes;
A Talent For Loving"

A Talent For Loving was nearly filmed by the Beatles. But I digress...
The American author E. Annie Proulx has an almost Dickensian talent for naming her characters. I dare say if you Googled any one of your own creations you might find that someone, somewhere already has that name.
Bazza thinks:"Hmm, this would make a good topic for a future post'.

dcrelief said...

I had an appendectomy at eight years old. My brother read this book to me. I don't remember much about the story, but the ice cream was great!
Thanks bazza!

bazza said...

dc: The story is great but obviously the ice-cream stayed longer in the memory. Maybe it's because you were an eight-year-old girl! Ha ha!

THE SNEE said...

Fabulous story choice to highlight Bazza!
My son is twelve now I think I'll introduce him to the book. He saw the movie if I recall. He loves pirates and islands and of course treasure. What's not to love?

bazza said...

Snee: If he's 12 then this is the perfect time to read the book. Although there are children's versions he should be able to handle the original one.
As you say, what's not to love? The new Sky TV version has Eddie Izzard as Long John Silver.
(PS: Just got back from a Seder at my daughter's house! Enjoy yours, if you have one.)

THE SNEE said...

We just finished Seder #2! Happy matzah eating Bazza.

bazza said...

Snee: Thank you. I love matzah eating until about the third day and loathe them by the end! In the UK Good Friday and Easter Monday are both Bank Holidays so we are enjoying a long weekend right now. I don't think that's the case in the US is it?