Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Treasure Island

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

One of the forefathers of adventure and pirate stories, Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island opens with one of the protagonists and narrators, Jim Hawkins, telling of buccaneers that visit his father’s inn, one of them dying of a stroke and leaving behind a chest containing a treasure map leading to gold on the eponymous isle. Thus, the ship Hispaniola, commanded by Captain Smollett, who doesn’t care much for crewmembers such as the enigmatic seadog Long John Silver, sets sail for the atoll, with Hawkins, who overhears one of the pirate’s conversations, questioning his motives.

The ship ultimately reaches its destination, where Jim meets a rugged man, Ben Gunn, marooned three years prior, and explores the island on his own. One part of the novel briefly follows the first-person perspective of another of the crewmembers, Dr. David Livesey, before he returns to the vessel, with a little strategizing on how to deal with the mutinous pirates of the Hispaniola. Hawkins and the others eventually plot to keep the treasure out of the hands of the pirates and maroon them on Treasure Island, although there are a few hitches in their plans.

Stevenson’s piratic magnum opus concludes with a brief description of the fates of its several characters, and while it’s not the best of its literary genre, it’s definitely an important novel in the history of literature, given the introduction of many tropes that would play part in future adventure and pirate book endeavors. This reviewer’s only prior experience with the story has been a handful of its many big and small-screen, sometimes theatrical, adaptations, and he overall definitely doesn’t regret reading the classic novel that inspired them, enthusiastically recommending it to those seeking the origins of its respective genre.

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