Friday, February 25, 2011

Reflections: Treasure Island

Adam C. Zern gives his thoughts on Robert Louis Stevenson's tale of adventure Treasure Island:

"I enjoy reading the 'classics' since most of the time they have been almost entirely distorted by modern entertainers and artists.  (For evidence of this, read Mary Shelley's Frankenstein to see just how far a story can be ripped from its roots).  When I started to read Treasure Island, I genuinely had a difficult time not visualizing the Muppet's Treasure Island movie.  Also, the idea of a pirate has been somewhat caricatured in recent times, e.g. Jack Sparrow.  Instead of being ruthless villains and criminals, pirates in modern entertainment have become clowns.  I was stuck with this idea and visual at the beginning of the book as well.

However, if you stick with Mr. Stevenson's book you soon realize that this is not the type of pirate that exists in his story.  You can clearly see the inspiration for many of the pirate stereotypes that exist in modern stories (talking parrot, bottles of rum, lost treasure, of course).  Led by Long John Silver (who hasn't heard that name?), Mr. Stevenson's pirates are brutal, somewhat witless, and altogether immoral.

At its core, Treasure Island is a 19th century young adult book.  It has more substance than you would find in much of young adult fiction today, but it's not exactly a literary masterpiece.  But it's not trying to be.  It's entertaining and a quick read.  The best part of the book for me was to see the beginning of a new character class: the pirate."

1 comment:

  1. Or for example the evolution of that old classic "the vampire." Good grief. But isn't that good writing? When an author can take a "classic" and turn it on its head and make the bad guys Pi-rats, that sing. I do prefer Shelley's "thinking monster." I confess. Interesting observations--yours, I mean.