Treasure Island

ISBN: 1596009330
ISBN 13: 9781596009332
By: Robert Louis Stevenson Michael Page

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Adventure Childrens Classic Classics Currently Reading Favorites Fiction Historical Fiction To Read Young Adult

About this book

The narrator of this timeless adventure story is the lad, Jim Hawkins, whose mother keeps the Admiral Benbow, an inn on the west coast of England in the 18th century. An old buccaneer takes up residence at the inn. He has in his sea chest a map to the hiding place of Captain Flint's treasure.A gang of cutthroats are determined to get his treasure map, and - led by the sinister, blind pirate, Pew - descend on the inn. But Jim Hawkins outwits them, grabs the map, and delivers it to Squire Trelawney. The Squire and his friend Dr. Livessy set off for Treasure Island in the schooner Hispaniola, taking Jim with them. Some of the crew are the squire's faithful servants, but the majority are buccaneers recruited by the one-legged pirate, Long John Silver.Jim discovers the pirates' plan to seize the ship and kill the squire's party, but warns them in time. After a series of thrilling fights and adventures, the pirates are finally defeated, and the treasure secured with the help of marooned pirate, Ben Gunn.

Reader's Thoughts

Kirstine

This is a neat little tale of adventure, piracy, hidden treasure, mutiny and heroics. All in all, good stuff. I wish I had read it as a kid, I’m pretty sure I would have loved it – the same way I loved The Mysterious Island, because it’s all about adventure. Nothing beats that when you grow up in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere, with few friends and mostly your brother for company. Some tales are also simply better when you’re a child, because you’re less critical, making you more susceptible to the apparent grandeur of piracy and less attentive when it comes to small things (such as the fact that it’s too short to have many ‘small things’).It’s a perfectly enjoyable story, and I’m definitely reading it to my kids when that day comes, but reading it on my own I was a little underwhelmed. I suspect I expected a little more sense of adventure, because when it all came down to it, it all felt very orderly, like it was a gentlemen’s adventure, and god forbid they use dirty tricks, we’ll leave that to the filthy, mutinous pirates. It wasn’t very… swashbuckling. I do believe, however, that my real problem is with the length. It’s like The Hobbit, it could have used another 100 pages to draw everything out a little bit. It all went a little too fast, and when the climax came it was too little too soon. I also committed the folly of seeing the Disney film “Treasure Planet” (based off this novel) before reading it, and that’s got plenty of (steampunk) swashbuckling, so perhaps I merely placed my expectations too high or in the wrong place. Either way, this is still a classic in the genre and does have memorable characters – especially Silver, with his moral ambiguity and shifting loyalties – and an imaginative setting and plot. I imagine reenacting it in my garden might add the thrill I felt it lacked. Worth a try.

Jason Pettus

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)The CCLaP 100: In which I read for the first time a hundred so-called "classics," then write essays on whether or not they deserve the labelEssay #32: Treasure Island (1883), by Robert Louis StevensonThe story in a nutshell:Inspired by a doodle from his step-son and originally written as a rainy-day family diversion, the slim 1883 children's book Treasure Island (originally published serially in 1881 and '82) was not only the first novel of sickly genre author Robert Louis Stevenson's short career, but eventually one of his most famous. Essentially the tale of young adventurer Jim Hawkins, the story opens with him as a dutiful mama's boy off the southwest coast of England, helping to run a family inn that sees little action because of being located much more inland than most of the other local sailor-oriented hotels. Ah, but this is exactly what brings the drunken, scary Billy Bones there, where it becomes quickly apparent that he is on the run and in semi-hiding from a whole crew of mysterious, nefarious characters; and when they finally show up after Bones' alcoholism-related death, the family realizes that they are in fact pirates, on the hunt for a treasure map that Bones stole from a recent mutinous voyage that went horribly, horribly wrong. This then convinces a group of local Victorian gentlemen and family friends to go after the treasure themselves, eventually buying a boat and hiring a local crew to take them to this far-off tropical island; but little do they realize that the sailors they've hired are none other than the surviving pirates of the former mutiny, led by the charismatic yet psychopathic one-legged "ship's cook" Long John Silver, who plan on turning on the ship's owners once actually reaching the island and retrieving the treasure they were forced to leave behind during their last voyage. The rest of the book, then, is essentially an adventure tale, full of all kinds of legitimate surprises that I won't spoil here; let's just say that a lot of swashbuckling takes place, that many details regarding ship-sailing are faithfully recorded, and that the day is eventually saved by our fast-thinking teenage hero Jim, no surprise at all for a book designed specifically to amuse fellow teenage boys.The argument for it being a classic:Well, to begin with, it's arguably the most famous pirate tale ever written, and in fact established for the first time many of the stereotypes now known within the genre, including one-legged buccaneers, treasure maps with a big 'X' on them, shoulder-sitting parrots squawking "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!," and even the very idea of British pirates being associated with exotic tropical islands in the Caribbean, an association now so strong that it's almost impossible to separate the two; and of course it's also the novel that created the unforgettable Long John Silver, now a thoroughly ingrained part of our Western culture at large. Add to this that it's simply an incredibly thrilling tale (rumor has it that England's Prime Minister at the time stayed up until two in the morning to finish his first reading of it), that it still holds up surprisingly well even 126 years later, and that it's also of immense importance to fans of Stevenson, a prolific author whose genius is just now starting to be widely recognized, after being dismissed by the literary community for almost a century as a frivolous "kiddie writer;" and now add to all this that Treasure Island is a surprisingly sophisticated examination of the era's ethics and moral code as well, taking an unblinking look at the "Victorian Ideal" as manifested in different ways among the stuffy gentlemen "heroes" (unable to improvise in changing circumstances, much to their detriment), the anarchic pirate villains (who almost kill themselves off just on their own, through drunkenness, ignorance and jealousy), and the ruthless yet principled Silver who straddles both these extremes.The argument against:A weak one at best; like many of the genre prototypes of the late Victorian Age, one could argue that this is simply too flippant a tale to be considered a classic. But we already established a long time ago here at the CCLaP 100 that genre stories are indeed eligible for "classic" status in this series, making this argument inapplicable in our case.My verdict:Holy crap! What an incredible book! And what a refreshing change in this case to not have to add my usual caveat to statements like these regarding late Victorian genre experiments: "...you know, for a century-old children's story that's kind of outdated and that you need to take with a grain of salt." Because the fact is that Treasure Island to this day still reads as fresh and exciting as the day it came out, which is a real testament to the writing skills of Robert Louis Stevenson (who I was already a big fan of before this essay series even started, because of his superbly creepy and also surprisingly relevant Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde); what a shame that this illness-plagued author ended up dying at the age of 44 in the prime of his career, instead of surviving to pen the truly mindblowing mature works I'm convinced that he had been capable of. And it's exactly for the reasons that his fans bring up that this book remains such an amazing one, and how it is that it can still easily be read for pleasure instead of having to force one's way through for historical purposes; because it is indeed not only a thrilling adventure tale, not only written in a style that largely rejects the purplish finery of the Victorian Age in which it was created, but is also a deceptively complex look at the entire nature of "gentlemanness" that was so prevalent at the time, gently poking holes in the entire notion of what it means to be a Refined Citizen of the Empire, even while acknowledging that a complete disavowal of these gentlemanly standards is even worse. There's a very good reason that Long John Silver has endured so strongly in our collective imagination over the last century, when so many other fictional pirates have fallen by the wayside, because he turns out to be a surprisingly complicated character worth coming back to again and again, a vicious killer but with a consistent internal moral code worth perversely admiring; it's but one of many reasons that I confidently label this book a undeniable classic today, and highly recommend it to anyone on the search for the best of 19th-century literature.Is it a classic? Absolutely

Jacob

I'm not big on classics, but this book has started to alter my opinion. Treasure Island is an exciting tale of a young boy named Jim Hawkins on an adventure to find treasure to help support him and his mother. His father is dead, and it's just him and his mother, but then he finds a treasure map, and his life will change forever. They find a ship and crew, and all is going well until they run into pirates.The things I didn't like was that it was a little slow at the beginning like most classics. In classic novels, the author s are descriptive about everything, even when it's redundant. There's not alot of this book that I don't like.There are more good things than bad regarding this book. The storyline is really exciting because once they find the chest and the map, they ball gets rolling and the book gets exciting. It's not a terribly long book, but it's not short either, so it's just the right size.

Heather

Maybe it's because I grew up, along with how many tens of millions of others, with the mythology of pirates in my head, or maybe it's the adrenaline-pumping action of a good adventure story, but I absolutely loved this book. In fact, I had to force myself to set it aside for a few hours at a time, to draw it out as long as I could stand, to savor every aspect of the classic story. I was not, nor am I now, well-versed in pirate lore, or knew at all the tale of Treasure Island and Long John Silver. But I did see the Disney spin on the tale, Treasure Planet, and upon seeing that movie (which I really enjoyed), I knew I had to read the book counterpart. As I said, I loved it. From he foreshadowing and development, to the choice of words and phrase and buildup that left me breathless in all the right places (Hawkins and Hands fighting on the nearly-sinking Hispaniola, the six remaining mutineers finding the treasure has been taken long before they set foot on the island), to Silver himself, a man you can't help put love in spite of good conscience. It all coalesced so perfectly as to make a book that I am happy to add to my "favorites" collection. So, so, so worth the read!

Anthony

Felt like revisiting my "yute." You really can't read it quite the same way as an adult as you did as a kid. It's a good yarn, but you're so aware of how the stereotypes act to reinforce the "received notions" that support the English class system. Damn that liberal-leaning higher education!:)

Michele

I'd never actually read this book before. I think I'd only seen movie versions of the story - which meant that I heard Tim Curry's voice every time Long John Silver opened his mouth to speak.Despite this distraction (and yes, I loved the Muppet version of the story), I was able to get into the story for its own sake. I found the first person narration by Jim the best part of the book because of the perspective it gave the whole adventure - after all, Jim's in it for the glory, as a boy would be, and not the money that his adult companions obviously hope to make. Jim's view is vindicated in the end as well when all the bad or questionable guys in the book end up blowing their wad, while he and the good guys are 'richer' for the experience.I enjoyed Jim's narration so much that I was disappointed when the episode in the stockade shifted from his perspective instead of just being told retrospectively. Seeing the action from Jim's point of view also allowed the reader to anticipate Jim's own responses. For example, as an adult reader, the sailors (pirates) "inability" to capture Black Dog after chasing him out of Long John's pub confirms the reader's suspicions about Long John (they'd been aroused earlier, but without substantiation) but Jim, being a child, takes a little longer to realize it. This creates a kind of narrative tension that's thoroughly enjoyable and is obviously what Stevenson wanted to do in choosing to narrate from the boy's perspective.Fun book - almost as much fun as the muppets!

Peter Meredith

Another dip into the classics. Wait is this a classic? I'm sure it's close enough. Now I have to get my prejudices behind me, before I get into the book. Here it is, I don't really care for Long John Silvers. Everything tastes like fish, even the french fries. And what exactly are hush-puppies? I'm ok with eating dogs, just not puppies. Cute animals should never be eaten, unless of course they are more tastier than they are cute, which I doubt to be the case with puppies, because, hey they taste like fish.So far here is my thinking when it comes to classics, there must not have been much in the way of competition. Treasure Island was well written when it came to sentence structure and grammar and such, but the plot! The main character, Jim Hawkins was constantly doing illogical and downright dangerous things in order to move the story along. So much so that I would frequently stop and say no one would ever do that. Yet still I worked through the book, enjoying the anachronisms of speech and the sea faring world in which the book was set, until I reached the end. It was hard to tell when the book really ended. Sure there was a point where there was no more words to read, but the actual story just sort of petered out and I was left hoping for something more climatic.

Paul

In one of Manny's 1,682 reviews - no, I can't remember which one** - he says that it must have been incredibly exciting being an avid reader of modern novels in the 1880s and 1890s. Not only were they churning out great classics at a rate of knots, they were inventing whole genres - Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Picture of Dorian Gray, HG Wells - and Treasure Island is one of those, a novel which invented a whole a-harr talk like a pirate genre. Stevenson's prose is quite magical, he absolutely convinced me with his descriptions of winds and seas and gunnels and jibs and booms and mizzenmasts and fo'c'sles (it's okay, you can print the whole word - forecastle - there - the printer won't charge you any more) and all of that. Plus, some of the ripest dialogue anywhere -"If that ain't to your fancy, some of my hands being rough, and having old scores, on account of hazing, then you can stay here, you can. We'll divide stores with you, man for man; and I'll give my affy-davy as before to speak the first ship I sight, and send 'em here to pick you up... Refuse that, and you've seen the last of me but musket-balls.""There!" he cried. "That's what I think of ye. Before an hour's out, I'll stove in your blockhouse like a rum puncheon. Laugh, by thunder, laugh! Before an hour's out ye'll laugh on the other side. Them that die'll be the lucky ones.Cap'n Flint says : As well as a ripping yarn, it's also a nifty dissection of the concept of being a "gentleman" which you may take sociologically, politically or psychologically, as suits ye best, ye lubbers. Squaaawk! Pieces of eight! A tot of rum would go down a treat! Skwawwwk!**Update : I found a previous note I'd already written so I can confirm that it was Manny's review of A Rebours where he says :It must have been so exciting to be a novelist in the second half of the nineteenth century. You weren't limited to just creating a novel; if you were talented, you could create a whole new kind of novel. http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...1883 : Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson1885 : Germinal : Emile Zola 1886 : The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde : R L Stephenson 1891 : The Picture of Dorian Gray – Oscar Wilde, 18911892 : The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes : Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 1895 : The Time Machine : H G Wells 1897 : Dracula : Bram Stoker 1898 : The Turn of the Screw : Henry James 1898 : The War of the Worlds – H G Wells

Manny

I read this book when I was about 8, and for some reason I didn't like it much. I never re-read it, as I did with all my favorite books, and I recall very little about the story.But I remember it better than some people, as I discovered when I posed what I thought was the easiest Quiz question in the world. Apparently, not everyone is sure how many men there are on a dead man's chest...

Keely

There are a lot of Sea Stories out there, and this is one of the better-known, but it hardly outshines its genre. I found myself missing the humor and vivid characterization of Conrad, not to mention the insightful philosophical asides. I also found it somewhat lacking as an adventure story, as the plot was somewhat simplistic and contrived, following the empty avatar of a narrator through various vicarious thrills. There's nothing wrong with an escapist yarn, but a good one keeps you riveted with twists and turns, alternating verisimilitude and the unlikely. It's not as if it's a problem of period, either, since The Three Musketeers is one of the most rollicking and engrossing adventure stories ever written.One must take into consideration the fact that Treasure Island is one of those genre-defining works which has been rehashed and plundered by a thousand authors since, until it is ingrained in our culture as The representation of piratical life. Like Neuromancer, many of the tropes and plot points might seem unoriginal, but that's only because they have been copied so frequently that we are no longer capable of recognizing their origin.Yet, this isn't the case for all genre-defining works. The Virginian still stands out when compared with any other Western and The Moonstone remains unique despite all the Mysteries that have dutifully followed it. The difference is the author's verve and style, because even if later authors can copy his ideas, copying his style will prove beyond their skill. An author who is good enough to recreate another author's style already has a unique voice of their own.It's curious to compare this with Poe's sole outing in the novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, which has the voice and unpredictability Treasure Island lacks, but doesn't provide the same lilting tone or straightforward plot, leaving each as interesting artifacts in the genre, even if neither can claim to be a complete vision.But then, it is often incomplete visions that provide the greatest inspiration, since they illuminate flaws and pitfalls, providing an outline for later authors and a caution of what should be avoided. Few people have come away from a book they couldn't possibly outdo feeling inspired to create, whereas reading a flawed but entertaining book can be the perfect jolt to a prospective author. But then, a book that inspires other authors to write could hardly help being the influential anchor from which the rest of a genre depends, so such flaws end up serving a purpose, if inadvertently.What drew me to this book, more than anything, is my desire to understand the unique literary mind of Mervyn Peake, one of the most powerful authors in the English language. Peake often invoked this as a favorite book, and produced a powerful series of illustrations for it. In these illustratios, one begins to see what Peake took away from Stevenson, as an author.While this is, to some degree, a story about simple characters, particularly the narrator, it is also a very dark tale, particularly for a children's classic. The death and deceit of the tale come out in Peake's drawings, as does the grotequerie.This darkness is undeniably there, but truthfully, I barely noted it until I looked at Peake's vision. To some degree, Sea Stories always bear this kind of horror, a world of conflict, the unforgiving sea, headhunting cannibals, and death a cheap thing. Poe and Conrad each outdo Stevenson in unsettlement, but in different ways.Poe's tends to be more purely visual, as is always his obsession in writing. It is the languid, lingering description that Poe gives to the leering face of a gull-bitten corpse that drives home the darkness of this life.Conrad, on the other hand, gives us horror in the eyes of his characters. He doesn't shy away from the pure physicality of the unpleasant world, but where it lingers is in the mind's eye; visions which can never be erased, which will forever taint our everyday actions.But Stevenson gives us neither. His adventure tale holds plenty of fear, but when young Jim murders a pirate, gruesome as it is, it rarely lingers either as vignette or psychological crack. Of course, he had a different notion of the maturity of a ten-year-old than we do today, where childhood lasts into the twenties, but we don't get the psychological progression we expect from a man coming to terms with death.These moments and reflections are not entirely absent, but they tend to get lost in the fleeting, episodic style of the story. But I'm glad for Treasure Island, if only because it inspired Peake to expand upon this tale of a precocious boy drawn inexorably into a dark world of grotesque characters in his unfinished magnum opus, the Gormenghast series.

John Yelverton

Classic tale of the sea and pirates. A must read for all young readers.

Eric

I really don't know what I can say about this classic swash-buckling adventure that hasn't been said already, but a few things that jumped out at me (minor spoilers below):- I found it interesting that the narrator details how Captain Smollett, Gray, and Ben Gunn spend their shares of the treasure, but not the original three treasure hunters -- himself, Doctor Livesey and Squire Trelawney. Actually, the ending in general seems a bit rushed to me, but this is a minor quibble, as I'm a big fan of brevity in literature.- I enjoyed the open-endedness of the ending paragraph: "The bar silver and the arms still lie, for all that I know, where Flint buried them; and certainly they shall lie there for me."- I couldn't believe this was the same author that wrote Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, as the tone of this book is entirely different. But when more of Long John Silver's inner character surfaced, I saw the duality-of-man theme at the center of Jekyll and Hyde present here as well.- Speaking of Long John Silver, it is remarkable to think that this book's popular is so pervasive that it inspired a fast-food restaurant chain -- 86 years after it was first published.

Suvi

The smaller Suvi, who used to climb on the rocks of the nearby forest and build castles with pillows and sheets into our living room, would have probably appreciated this a tad more than 23-year-old Suvi. Absolutely an entertaining story, after all I did kind of forget myself with this instead of studying. However, I didn't have any particular negative or positive feelings one way or the other. One thing though that would have connected these two versions of me, is the complex and multifaceted character of Long John Silver, whose moral isn't quite as black and white as with the patriotic characters of the novel and the pirates. As far as I know, this moral issue is quite rare in children's literature, at least of this time period.I don't know whether Treasure Island was the first pirate story, but there's a lot of (perhaps stereotypical) conceptions and ideas in here relating to pirates that have survived to this day. The most important of these are at least one legged pirates with a parrot on their shoulder, treasure maps with an X, and buried treasures. The ship Hispaniola sounded familiar, but I have no idea why. There are no wooden legs though, because Silver uses a crutch. Believe it or not, but it doesn't seem he has much difficulties using that on a swaying deck or on a soft sand beach. History buffs might want to know that Israel Hands really existed, and that he was Blackbeard's boatswain.All in all, an entertaining adventure story and deserving of its status as a classic, although maybe not suitable for the smallest children. In addition to the flickering morality of Silver, I noticed that Stevenson doesn't try to glorify piracy in any way. Still, if I had read this sometime before the age of 12, I'd probably started dreaming of similar pirate adventures that Jim Hawkins got himself into. I already thought about what it would be like to run away with the circus (while considering the good and bad aspects of being a lion tamer), or hide myself into gypsies' wagons.

Amy

I read this book alongside my son, who had been assigned Treasure Island for summer reading. While not necessarily the kind of fiction I typically choose, it was certainly entertaining, however, there *were* large paragraphs here and there I barely paid attention to--paragraphs that were filled with boatswains and coxswains and larboards and mizzenmasts and other such words that mean nothing to me (hypothesis 1: Stevenson was paranoid about being "unauthentic" so he had to throw this stuff in to be convincing....hypothesis 2: some people care about coxswains and larboards...but I don't). I tried to enjoy the lush descriptions of things for which I already had clear mental images of, but couldn't quite do it, but it's not Stevenson's fault that I have had access to many -a-visual-image of such locales as deserted pirate-y islands....Silver's character is, in my opinion, the only one of true interest (and "you can lay to that"), as most others lack the three-dimensional qualities of real people we know. Long story short, if you didn't read this as a kid, it might be a fun summer read--but you aren't missing anything important....Interesting note: the other book Isaac was assigned this summer was To Kill A Mockingbird--we read that one first (it was obviously a reread for me...) and then Treasure Island--putting these two stories together in the same conversation, *did* pique my interest a little more. I ended up drawing some interesting comparisons between Jim and Scout, and about the events that they encounter...food for thought...

Hollowspine

I have seen the movies, Muppet Treasure Island, that animated one where Ben Gunn is played by a nutty robot, but until I came across "Treasure Island!!!" by Sara Levine I never thought about actually reading the book. Then I thought, wouldn't it be fun if I, like the narrator of Levine's novel, read Treasure Island then of course read her book too. So that is what I did.First of all, I found it rather difficult to locate a copy of Treasure Island that was not illustrated and abriged for children. This seemed odd to me, I thought a classic like Treasure Island would be widely available for both adults and children. Like Frankenstein, which has multiple copies, some of the children's illustrated type and even more copies, with notes, forewarded by various people etc. etc. for adults. Not so with Stevenson's work. Although Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, like Frankenstein, seems to follow those expectations, Treasure Island it seems is only for kids.So, I read Treasure Island from the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, and I enjoyed the typewriter quality of the old printing, the slight smell of damp and the lovely red library binding. Reading Treasure Island was a good experience all around. I enjoyed the 'aged' book I was reading from, I was engrossed in Jim's adventures and loved some of the odd dialogues, epspecially between Ben Gunn and everyone else. Or the odd bits about cheese or salted goat. The conversations between the characters were chock-full of quoteable chunks and various things it was hard not to want to speak aloud.I did find the book engaging, exciting and at times very funny, but I haven't broken out the index cards yet. Or bought a parrot.

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