Treasure Island is one of a small number of books that are both for children and adults. The appeal of the book for children relates to the story line: pirates, buried treasure, sea voyages to faraway places, and a boy hero. The appeal of the book for adults is in seeing a wonderful example of how events operate at many different levels. Long John Silver quickly becomes the focus for adults. What is his true nature? What will he do next? Clearly, Silver is one of the most interesting and memorable of all fictional characters.
A problem that children will have with this book is that the language is somewhat foreign to them. Some adults and children will find that the book starts slowly compared to newer novels (which often have the equivalent of a chase sequence in the first 5 pages).
My advice is to stick with the story for the first 6 chapters, and see how you are doing. By that time, the story will either have cast its spell on you, or you will be able to tell that this book is not for you.
A final reason for reading Treasure Island is because the book has been read by so many people. You will find references to the story in other literature and in conversation with others. You will also run into establishments called The Admiral Benbow Inn. It would be a shame not ot know its heritage. Also, finding someone else who likes Jim Hawkins and Long John Silver for the same reasons you do is a great shortcut to becoming better acquainted.
Personally, I found the story irresistible. I would have written a very similar book if I had the skill to do so. The plot is nicely balanced, and the characters provide an unusual perspective for what could easily have been a real potboiler with little to recommend it. The book has great charm, given its focus on pirates, which makes it compelling for me. I have now read the book 3 times, and enjoyed it more each time.
Have a great read!
on 4 September 2000
Sadly Hollywood has probably duped you with their lame film versions. Even Robert Newton with his laughable caricature. Make no mistake, this book holds immense appeal for children and adults.... especially adults. Jim Hawkins tells how his life gradually becomes entangled with a dark underworld bent on a search for Flint's treasure. Having thwarted the gentleman of Fortune and taken the map from under their noses, the expedition of Captain Smollett, Squire Trelawny, Doctor Livesy and Jim Hawkins naively take the pirates on as crew, with Silver as their leader. Their murderous plotting is only accidentally revealed to the honest men at the crucial moment, just before the lookout sights the island.
The simple narrative style of Jim and the slightly childish romance can easily deceive you into ignoring a book full of violent adventure. No modern childrens author would relish such simple evil: "Silver, agile as a monkey, even without leg or crutch, was on top of him next moment, and had twice buried his knife up to the hilt in that defenceless body. from my place of ambush, I could hear him pant aloud as he struck the blows."
Anyone in any doubt about the character of Long John Silver would do well to read Bjorn Larsen's superb 'Long John Silver - The true and eventful History of my Life of Liberty and Adventure as a Gentleman of Fortune and Enemy to Mankind.' RLS may have based his brutal sea-cook on a figure described by Captain Johnson in his 'History of the Robberies and Murders of the most Notorious Pyrates' - "A fellow with a terrible pair of whiskers and a wooden leg, being stuck round with pistols like the man in the almanac with darts, comes swearing and vapouring upon the quater-deck, and asks, in a damning manner, which was Captain Mackra".
No doubt as hollywood has dumbed down RLS, he himself romanticised the real thing: Early 18th century pirates swarmed all over the carribean and the African coast. They had no hesitation in murdering and torturing in the cruellest fashion, yet in a strange way you can sympathise with their desire for democracy, egalitarianism and their system of welfare or compensation for injured men. Silver's comrades tip him the black spot as is their right, but by the sheer force of his presence and argument, backed up by his trump card - the map - he wins the day. For a more detailed look at the historical realities of life among the pirates read David Cordingly's 'Under the Black Flag'
This edition comes with a little icing on the cake - the superb and some might say the definitive illustrations of Mervyn Peake. His dark imagination oozes out of every picture and take you the scene. The contrast of sunlight and death as Silver cleansed "his bloodstained knife the while", makes my spine crawl and I am there in the undergrowth, looking out at the "little green dell".
Read this wonderfully straight-forward book, keep a copy nearby and let it transport you, when you need it, at the turn of a page....
....I hear the surf booming about it's coasts, or start upright in bed, with the sharp voice of Captain Flint still ringing in my ears: 'Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!.........
on 20 November 2014
I have read and re-read this story a great number of times over my 70yrs of age. It's a tale that everyone should read at least once, I would think that a large majority would read again at some point. The stories of pirates are notoriously blood thirsty but there as been so many stories and films that have portrayed them as likeable rogues, Long John Silver a case in point, a famous TV program. This book is escapism at its best and can relax you right back into childhood. Well worth a read or another read or another read.
on 7 July 2009
This has been a great edition to use with my Yr 5 class the text is simplified and it has been quick to read. The children used the text to turn the stories into play scripts. I would recommend this book for primary schools.
on 12 January 2014
in 1950 my grandad bought this book for me, it was the first book I read cover to cover, and recall reading it in bed under the covers with a little torch I had, I was aged 8. now I am a granddad 5 times over, and one of my granddaughters aged 11 now,excels at reading/spelling at school, and last year I asked her if she would like to read the first book I ever read , and surprisingly she said yes. so one of her presents this Christmas was treasure island. last week I asked her if she had started reading it, and the response was an enthusiastic "yes, I am half way already and sometimes I feel I can't stop reading it as I am so into the story" I felt so chuffed when she said this, and the added bonus that she is giving her Ipad a small rest, sometime!!!
thank you Robert Louis Stevenson.
on 22 June 2005
Treasure Island is arguably one of the greatest works of storytelling in the English language. Stevenson created other novels, with greater depth and insight, but the highlight of Treasure Island is the combination of color and poetic prose that distinguishes his tale of piracy and boyhood adventure from the rest of the field of other adventure books. The title alone paints an image of suspense, and salty pirates battling over great riches. Most people tend to view Treasure Island as a story for children, but it can be enjoyed by anyone longing for a rollicking adventure. Like so many stories from the 1800s, each chapter ends with a cliffhanger, and once you get used to the language the author's humor shines through.
on 19 May 2009
There are certain books that are so deeply embedded in our history and culture that you somehow feel you have read them even if you have not. Treasure Island is one such book. I remember as a child watching the film version at Christmas and being so terrified by both Long John Silver and, perhaps oddly, by Ben Gunn, that I almost couldn't watch. At the same time I was unsurprisingly very enamoured of brave young Jim the boy hero with whom I of course felt I could identify.
So it was with this legacy that I picked the book up some thirty years later to finally actually read it. Two things in particular surprised me in the opening chapters, firstly I had no idea how wonderfully gothic the start of the book is. The creaking Admiral Benbow Inn provides a suitably sinister backdrop for the macabre triumvirate of Captain Bill, Black Dog and best of all Blind Pew, as they `graah' and `aaahh' their way into the story. All are much larger than life but no worse for it and are clearly templates, along with Long John Silver, for many, many fictional `gentleman of fortune' who have graced page and screen since, not least Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow. Secondly I was surprised by the protagonist and narrator Jim. He is a genuinely independent boy hero with more than his fair share of wilfulness and impetuosity mixed in with the predictable obedience and piety. As the story unfolds, his apparent determination to do whatever he wants seems to grow to the point where he is in danger of becoming rather irritating. Twice he recklessly abandons his friends but on both occasions his absconding proves eventually, to his and his friends' advantage. A hero indeed with the sort of youthful exuberance and stubbornness with which every child can relate.
In the final analysis Treasure Island is not much more than a very finely written adventure story but then neither does it pretend to be. Stevenson does not seem to have had much interest in moralising or edifying and he certainly was not out to offer unique insights into the human condition, indeed the characters of Dr Livesey and Squire Trelawney are two-dimensional at best. Simply it is thoroughly enjoyable and engaging throughout, by turns extremely funny and genuinely frightening. A beautifully paced, carefully plotted example of nineteenth century children's adventure literature at its very best.
on 17 August 2015
A REVIEW OF ‘TREASURE ISLAND’ by ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
In many ways, to review ‘Treasure Island’ is a pointless task. The countless lives that it has touched and the immeasurable influence of the novel render it effectively bullet-proof against any reviewer. Therefore my intention here is simple: namely to provide 5 clear reasons why ‘Treasure Island’ is a 5-star story that deserves its almost peerless reputation.
1. Its title. Is there another two-word book title that can so successfully conjure the imagination and whet the appetite for adventure? Say it out loud. It is the perfect four syllables with which to tantalise the reader.
2. Its set-up. The opening chapters set and around in the isolated in, ‘The Admiral Benbow’ are terrific. Who could fail to be intrigued by the backstory behind the arrival of a snarling old sea dog with a mysterious chest and a watchful eye for a one-legged pursuer?
3. Its characters. Admittedly Jim Hawkins is not THE most memorable leading young man in fiction. However, many of the characters are brilliantly drawn from the pompous Squire Trelawney to the mad, marooned Ben Gunn. Yet it is the immortal ‘Long’ John Silver who steals every scene that he is in. He is such a likeable rogue that (even after he commits the most callous murder of a loyal crew member), we can still sympathise with him when he is unassisted in his attempts to leave the enemy’s camp. Likewise, his exit from the story brings a wry smile to the face.
4. Its simplicity. The plot of ‘Treasure Island’ is wonderfully uncomplicated… Gentlemanly treasure-hunters face mutiny and stalemate on the island whilst both camps try to get hold of the booty. Yet it grips throughout, suffering not a jot from the omission of a romantic interest or an influx of characters midway through. Indeed, the intriguing battle-of-wits is further enhanced by Stevenson’s occasional shifting of the narrative from Jim Hawkins to Dr Livesey in order to fill in blanks in the story.
5. Its legacy. It is impossible to measure the literary and broader impact of ‘Treasure Island’. How many subsequent authors have used the essence of the story in their own work? It is possible to detect the influence of ‘Treasure Island’ in the works of John Buchan and Ian Fleming to name but two. Indeed, is it coincidence that Richard Hannay’s and James Bond’s enemies are usually the stars of their respective novels?
So there you have it. If you have never read ‘Treasure Island’, see the error of your ways and set sail. If you haven’t read it in years, you may find a return voyage very rewarding. However you approach it, ‘Treasure Island’ still shines like Flint’s doubloons.
Barty’s Score: 10/10
I first read Treasure Island when I was about 9 or 10 and although it was a fairly challenging read for a child whose literary excursions up to then had largely been confined to The Famous Five, I loved every page of it. There was adventure, violence (loads of it), tall ships, tall tales, goodies, baddies, maps, treasure and, best of all, pirates! At that age there's something deeply evocative about word like pirate, stockade, musket and so on and I remember ed Jim's adventures with great fondness over the years.
In a fit of nostalgia I decided to read it again, although I was genuinely worried that I would n't like it now. If anything it's even better as it has all the great elements I remember from my childhood, but now I appreciate it on a different level and see that it's not all adventure on the high seas, but Treasure Island is a book with vivid and complex characters. Long John Silver remains the charismatic rogue I remember and even though he's a rotten villain and tricks Jim at every turn, you can't help but like him. Similarly, Blind Pew remains the terrifying character I remembered him to be and he should rattle more than a few big kids and little kids with his fierce roaring and cursing.
Some might say that Treasure Island won't appeal to today's children but this book is immediately accessible to any child with an imagination and an attention span longer than 2 minutes. In the same way, it will appeal to overgrown kids keen to live a bit of their childhoods again. It remains, as Long John Silver would say "smart as paint".
on 17 January 2012
No, Long John Silver never said it! Read again the iconic, original Ripping Yarn! You must....it's required! This Kindle edition is excellent, with proper formatting, and superb illustrations...and the map. Pieces of 8....but I give it 10/10!