Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Treasure Island (Barnes & Noble Classics) Paperback – March 3, 2005
|New from||Used from|
Frequently bought together
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
About the Author
Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
From Angus Fletcher’s Introduction to Treasure Island
If we go back to the origins of adventure story fiction, we discover that the heroic quest remains its principal myth. Quest-romances take many different forms, whether it be the search for the Holy Grail in Arthurian legend, for the Golden Fleece (as in the Argonautica, the ancient epic of Jason and the Argonauts), for the safe return home after perilous Homeric wanderings, as in the Odyssey, or for a wide range of ends both material and spiritual. What is important is that, once established in classic form, the great adventure stories render all readers, of any age, essentially children at heart. The quest gives us our dream of success, and when we tire of daily labor in making a living, it returns us to that time of the dream. Thus for Treasure Island the questing dream comes out of a long preceding history. Besides two early travel books based on journeys in France, Stevenson told stories in homage to the Near Eastern tradition of loosely woven adventures: his New Arabian Nights (1882), in which the exotic nature of travel to distant lands is imagined as occurring in stories set in Europe. This art of romance thrives on the incredible voyage, the sailor’s yarn (in his day perhaps more fashionable than any other type), the tall frontier tale, including exotic or utopian settings that could never actually exist, because romance demands almost complete power to overcome all human obstacles. The mode of romance therefore demands freedom to imagine. Yet the tradition seems to mix realism on some level with such unreal situations for the hero. In Robinson Crusoe (1719) Daniel Defoe mingles fact and fiction liberally. The same mixture appears in Arthurian lore, while with the rise of the modern middle classes a new kind of romance arises around the quest for material success.
By Stevenson’s time Protestant beliefs and secular technology had long since fueled the rise of capitalism. Robinson Crusoe, while it inaugurated the realistic tradition of the novel in England, makes a continuous critical commentary on mercantile capitalism and its value system, especially as they derive aid and comfort from Protestant Christianity. Crusoe, whose name plays on the name of Christ, is in effect a marooned capitalist, who must rebuild his fortune, by returning his commercial skills to their most primitive beginnings. In this process Crusoe learns who he actually is. Such a quest is tied to the science of counting up supplies, enemies, distances, and even dreams, all of which become the very stuff of realistic modern fiction. Typically the castaway begins his lonely sojourn by surveying what is left to him from the ruins of shipwreck—that is, making the inventory of tools available beyond mere life itself. To be sure, virtually all the major novelists comment, directly or allusively, on the nature and sources of wealth, often indicating how these derive from imperial expansion. Scholars have found these middle-class indicators in what might seem the strangest places—for example, the novels of Jane Austen. Character and commerce seem not so secretly linked. Yet how could it be otherwise, since the bourgeois novel attempts an accounting of life? At the end of the nineteenth century, Henry James claimed for the novel that its function was to provide genuine “criticism” of the way we live, to provide a kind of narrative philosophy, storytelling endowed with serious levels of meaning, suggesting profound and often obscure themes. Stevenson’s essay “A Humble Remonstrance” (1884; see, in “For Further Reading,” The Lantern-Bearers and Other Essays) countered James’s critical principle by favoring romance. There is no way, the essay claimed, for the novel to “compete with life.” Instead the novel should maintain its exhilarating imaginative independence from the crude facts of existence, drawing upon those facts solely as a resource for delineating passion. (The saame article faults the distinguished American novelist and editor William Dean Howells for a similar dependency upon the new naturalistic style.) Stevenson wanted to keep the idea of treasure somehow pure. With Henry James, whom Stevenson so much admired and who became his valued correspondent, the idea of a treasure sought by adventurous quest took on an ironic aspect. James’s critical gaze, enhanced by his own obsession with wealth, led him to analyze the typical methods of acquiring it, such as real estate speculation in the value of houses or New Englanders piling up industrial wealth or European princes marrying American money. In these late novels and stories James’s critical conceptions collide with material obsessions, and the results are often obscure, even uncanny, as in The Ambassadors, The Wings of the Dove, and The Golden Bowl.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
This was going to be a gift for a 9 year old looking to engage further in chapter reading. No longer.
I thought a rollicking pirate adventure, illustrated by N. C. Wyeth, might be fun. This poor replica is anything but fun...the cover is pixelated and the illustration plates are muddied grays, and I haven't even addressed how a 9-year old is going to try to read the disjointed copy spacing and chapter headings, as well as typos and misspellings. Please see photos.
On top of this my copy was bent and sticky, go figure packing crew.
100% dissatisfied long-term Amazon customer.
Much has been remarked in many of these critiques about the outdated language Stevenson used. In that regard, I have to say that the Kindle edition that I downloaded lacks one thing that was included in my old printed edition, which was published by MacMillan way back in 1924. The old edition has a set of notes following the text, explaining a lot of the nautical terms and old-fashioned jargon. It even includes the complete lyrics to "A Bottle of Rum". I never found those notes necessary but they might prove useful to some of the younger readers, to whom such language might be unfamiliar. Personally, I think the language is part of what has given this tale it's lasting appeal. In addition, I don't know whether 18th Century pirates really spoke the way Stevenson has them speak in Treasure Island, but there is no doubt that it is the way they will forever be remembered, "...and ye may lay to that, Matey"!
Some of the nautical terms and pirate jargon in the story were unfamiliar to me and I found the CliffNotes Treasure Island Glossary to be very useful in understanding them. It defines terms like alow and aloft; assizes; dead-eye; my cock, as in rooster and meaning a fine young man (that one tripped me up for a few seconds) and many others. Amazon won't let me post a link to it so just do a search for "Full Glossary for Treasure Island - CliffsNotes". It'll probably be the first hit in the list and it's free.
There are many images on the Web for Treasure Island. I did a Search for 'Treasure Island Map' and I found one that helped in getting a better idea of where action was taking place. I hope you enjoy the story and if you have young children why not read it aloud with them.
By the way, if you want to see the film I highly recommend you watch the 1950 Disney version starring Robert Newton as Long John Silver. One RottenTomatoes critic said this; "Newton's Long John Silver is the ultimate buccaneer, a one-legged, squinty-eyed blackguard so piratical he even concludes a prayer with a hammy 'Ahhhhhrrrmen...'" And Silver could also be the most charming, silver-tongued devil around when it suited him.
I remembered little of this story, from my earlier read. The old style language would have been pretty difficult for a typical, young baby boomer -- and, I expect I had gone through some segments with only a general idea of what was happening. Perhaps my book had had a bit of glossary, as another recent reader recalled from his childhood reading. It would be a good book to read along with a young person, to explain terms and quaint language, and to look up items, together.
As a viewer of Black Sails, I noted that three of the characters in the series were lifted from Treasure Island, as a bit of Googling confirmed that, indeed, they are fictional: Billy Bones, John Silver, Captain Flint.
Most recent customer reviews
I great listen and a wonderful narrator. I highly recommend this.