Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Book 49 of 2013: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

I've read rather a lot of Robert Louis Stevenson recently. His name cropped up on my last course with his South Sea Tales and as a result of that I downloaded a bunch of free Kindle books by him. By happy coincidence Treasure Island was one of the books to be studied on my latest course. I'd ordered the correct copy for the course but it was taking its time to arrive, so rather than hold myself up I decided to read the Kindle version instead.

Image from Wikipedia.
It's a story that anyone who has ever seen the Muppet's film will be familiar with; Jim Hawkins comes into possession of a pirate map leading to hidden treasure. With the help of a local Squire and doctor a crew is put together to find this treasure, but little do they realise that Long John Silver, the ship's cook who has helped to recruit the crew is actually a pirate who intends to lead a mutiny and take the treasure for themselves. This leads to a conflict on the island between the pirates and the crew as they do battle to claim the treasure and get home in one piece.

On the whole I enjoyed this story, although at times it felt like it dragged a little. It was quick to set the scene and get into the action but then once they arrived on the island things seemed to drag a bit. Ironically this was where the action really came to a head, although it seemed like there was a lot of waiting around for things to happen right when I was expecting it to get really exciting.

Of course I couldn't help but keep thinking back to the Muppet's version. It was a little disconcerting to have bits of the text narrated in my head by Kermit the Frog, though I was able to shake that off early on. Didn't stop me from having Cabin Fever going round in my head most of the time I was reading it though!

Part of the reason that this book was being studied was as a comparison between books intended for boys and books intended for girls (Little Women was the book we looked at for the girls). I did like the way that it was written, it definitely seemed to be speaking directly to boys and I can see why it would appeal to them. I realise I'm kind of encouraging the stereotypes that we were studying here, but it's a book all about a bunch of men going off and having manly adventures together, and it wasn't really my kind of thing as a young girl (despite my love of The Hobbit).

After I read it I made a note to myself that I was looking forward to studying it. I did mostly enjoy it, though the essays that we have to read about the book kind of riled me. It was good to see Robert Louis Stevenson's influences in writing it (it kind of brings together the stories from the penny dreadfuls which were disapproved of at the time, and the moral stories which were seen as ideal reading material for young men), but some of the essays which look at deeper meanings and Freudian analysis just frustrate me. I mean, is that really what the author meant?

I'm really enjoying reading Robert Louis Stevenson's books and I've still got a few more on my Kindle to read. I'll definitely get to them eventually.

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