A Classic: Treasure Island


[+]: A classic. A story of suspense and adventure that can be enjoyed by children and adults.
[-]
: Somewhat archaic language that might seem difficult at first for the modern reader, especially children.

Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!

TREASURE ISLAND tells the story of a young man’s unsolicited entanglement with villains, violence, betrayal and buried treasure. Jim Hawkins finds a dead pirate’s treasure map and sets out on a high sea adventure. With characters such as Billy Bones, Black Dog, Blind Pew and the memorable Long John Silver – danger lurks at every turn as his voyage is filled with cutthroat pirates hell-bent on claiming the plundered prize.

I take up my pen in the year of grace 17–, and go back to the time when my father kept the “Admiral Benbow” inn, and the brown old seaman, with the sabre cut, first took up his lodging under our roof.”

Robert Louis Stevenson’s timeless classic adventure of pirates and buried treasure was first published as a book in 1883. It was originally serialised in the children’s magazine Young Folks between 1881-82 under the title The Sea Cook, or Treasure Island.

Map of Treasure Island, by J. Hawkins. Source: Kellscraft.com

One of the most memorable passages are where Jim Hawkins describes Billy Bones comes to live at the Admiral Benbow Inn:

I remember him as if it were yesterday, as he came plodding to the inn door, his sea-chest following behind him in a hand-barrow; a tall, strong, heavy, nut-brown man; his tarry pigtail falling over the shoulders of his soiled blue coat; his hands ragged and scarred, with black, broken nails; and the sabre cut across one cheek, a dirty, livid white. I remember him looking round the cove and whistling to himself as he did so, and then breaking out in that old sea-song that he sang so often afterwards:

Fifteen men on The Dead Man’s Chest –
Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!

Did you know?
The real-life pirate, Edward Teach (Blackbeard the Pirate) once marooned 15 of his men on a small island named Dead Man’s Chest. He put them ashore with no weapons, equipment or supplies – just a bottle of rum.

Some points to the reader
Treasure Island might seem difficult to read for the modern reader especially children and teenagers which the book aims to but keep in mind the strength and authenticity presented by the 17th century setting Stevenson is presenting. It is a 1883 publication so the reader should already be aware of linguistic challenges.

Treasure Island well deserves its status as a beloved classic. It’s a story of suspense and adventure that can be enjoyed at a child’s level, but has substance for adults as well.

Highly recommend it

*  *  *

Read more on this blog:
About Robert Louis Stevenson

Available on
iPhone: Classics app ($0.99) and Stanza app (free)
Mac/PC: Project Gutenberg (free in text and audio)
In audio LibriVox (free) through the iTunes Store’s podcast section
And obviously Amazon and Audible.

Wikipedia
Treasure Island
Robert Louis Stevenson

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About Faisel K

Lost faith, went to law school, then to Japan, became a Buddhist, blah, blah, blah. Read More?
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2 Responses to A Classic: Treasure Island

  1. Pingback: Ahoy, matey! | Faisel K's Journal

  2. Pingback: Robert Louis Stevenson « Faisel K's Journal

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