Shiver my timbers! Long John Silver was a feared pirate–so feared, no one who knew him would ever name a restaurant chain after him. But the tale of Treasure Island has long faded since first written in 1883. The adventure and fear live on…if only you open the cover of this book.
My copy is the gold embossed Reader’s Digest version from 1987, part of the collection that I grew up with on the bookshelves. Most are still in MN at my parents’ house. This is one of the few I brought with me, determined to read.
Treasure Island is not a new story to me. When I was around 8, my grandparents took me to see it preformed as a play. I only remember a pirate doing cartwheels and scampering about on stage, and asking grandma about what was going on at what I thought were a boring part with no real action.
The other way in which I knew Treasure Island, that dates me age-wise, was from Muppet Treasure Island. Which all I can think of is Muppets in pirate garb singing, and not leaving much of an impression on me either as to the actual storyline of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel. Then again, Muppets, like Disney, skew and muddle the stories, mainly by inserting all-too-catchy songs.
So my main goal in grabbing this book from the MN shelves, as with Wizard of Oz, was to finally read it for myself. I like originals, knowing where memes and references came from, as well as the basic impetus for them.
Treasure Island follows 13-year-old Jim Hawkins, who acquires a pirate’s treasure map and is soon roped into the hunt for it. Most famous aboard the ship, serving as cook, is one-legged Long John Silver, with his parrot on his shoulder. Stevenson truly created the iconic image of pirates, including the famous ditty:
Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum! Drink and the devil had done for the rest. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!
On the sea, Jim overhears talk of mutiny, and no sooner than they reach the island does the trouble truly begin. Betrayal, murder, and hardships set in, with young Jim caught up in all of it. He must find courage and strength to hang on at every turn, no matter what comes his way. He creates trouble for himself but in the end, perhaps as I should have expected, it all pays off for him and his actions pay off for his true sea-mates. The mutineers are duped and abandoned. All is right in the world. And yet, there’s that one pirate who plays both sides, willy-nilly, that you never quite know if you can trust, a devious calculated man name Long John Silver.
Are you ready for your thrilling sea-faring adventure? Grab your cutlass and pistols, you lubber, and make sure you have this handy glossary to help with the pirate-speak.
Recommended?: For anyone, as it’s a “family-adventure” story. Nothing too violent, and no gore like some books. The language is tricky sometimes, not just with the pirate-speak but also the phases used, though the meaning is still understandable. It’s truly one of those young-boy-coming-of-age adventure tales, though, and reminds be a bit of Huck Finn in that sense. Unlike the current mindset of pirates, the only women in this story are wives and they are very minor characters. No female pursuits, just good old-fashioned treasure hunting and taking out those in the way.