You can’t really grow up in America without hearing pirate stories. Even if you aren’t a fan of adventure stories, the trope is everywhere in our culture.
The most famous of these stories is Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. This used to be the book young boys would sneak under their covers and read by flashlight, but now it is mandatory reading by schools–which takes away some of the pleasure. Not to mention the language is somewhat old fashioned and confusing to us now.
Still, read or not, the characters in these pages are everywhere–Long John Silver and his parrot are not just fictional mutineers, they are also a fishy fast food mascot. I also knew a few others, like Ben Gunn and Tom Morgan, even though I hadn’t known where they came from. Disney had a theme park “Discovery Island” based on the story, though it is shut down now. And there’s just a bunch of adaptations and other cultural references from Stevenson’s story.
To be honest, I really wasn’t that into the book itself. I really just skimmed it to get the jist. The seafaring dialect was difficult to read unless you really go slow, and I mostly had the story in my head anyway. I mostly just wanted to get through it to check it off my list and get all the cultural reference goodies. I like to connect the dots on this sort of thing to all the moments in my life that have related back to old books like this. And there were several. I’ll probably come across other scenes in other movies now that I’ll go “Ooooooh that’s the thing from the thing!” You know how that works.
Fulfills Boxall #89
After reading some very droll old literature, I was ready for something with a little more POP to it, to finish out the year. Thankfully, Robinson Crusoe was next on the Kindle list.
I can completely see why this book is so popular. It may not have the same thrill as it used to, but I can picture dad or an older brother reading chapters of this before bed, siblings tented under sheets with flashlights after lights out. And, I’m sure, even though it did have cannibals and mutiny, there was also quite a lot of Bible included too, so Mother would approve.
I have mixed feelings about this book. The survival story on its own was very interesting. We joke about Tom Hanks going crazy in Castaway, having a volleyball as a friend, and he wasn’t even alone that long. Crusoe was on that island for almost 30 years! He built a farm, raised goats, built a boat to get around in. He didn’t just survive, he THRIVED.
I start to struggle a little bit towards the end of the book, mostly once he “saves” Friday. Here you are, you FINALLY interact with someone from another culture, and instead of listening to them, learning from them….NOPE. Everything he has to say is wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG. I’m not saying he should have become a cannibal, but talk about whitewashing. Down to the fact that Friday called him Master, and Crusoe never did learn Friday’s real name. GRRRRRR. I guess in my head there’s ministering…and there’s shoving things down people’s throats.
Ok…deep breath…stepping off my soapbox.
Told you I had mixed feelings. This will probably get 2 stars from me. It’s good writing as far as literature goes, for the time period, and longevity. But, some of the subject matter just hit me the wrong way.