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The Swiss Family Robinson / Robinson Crusoe (Companion Library)

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3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  83,525 Ratings  ·  1,735 Reviews
One of the world's best-loved stories of shipwreck and survival, The Swiss Family Robinson portrays a family's struggle to create a new life for themselves on a strange and fantastic tropical island. Blown off course by a raging storm, the family-a Swiss pastor, his wife, their four young sons, plus two dogs and a shipload of livestock-must rely on one another in order to ...more
Hardcover
Published 1963 by Grosset & Dunlap (first published 1812)
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Amber Not really. I started reading this because I thought it was an old classic, up there with Treasure Island category, plus I loved the Disney movie. I'm…moreNot really. I started reading this because I thought it was an old classic, up there with Treasure Island category, plus I loved the Disney movie. I'm having a hard time getting through it. The movie is way better. The book is so old fashioned. The Dad and the boys are out hunting and killing literally everything in sight including bears, kangaroos, gorillas, and platypus. They are killing animals to stuff as "curiosities". They kill ALL the monkeys because they trashed one of their huts. It's totally not politically correct according to today's thinking. Besides the fact that I don't what island they are on that has all the animals of Africa, Australia, and North America, all in one place. Meanwhile "the Mother" as they refer to her, is doing the domestic thing. I thought there would be more about the building of the tree house and finding creative solutions, like the movie, but there isn't that much. Lots more killing instead, which isn't my bag. They don't even live principally in a tree house, they move to a cave. The Dad knows everything about anything, plants, animals, manufacturing processes, so it's so unbelievable. I'll finish it, but if I'd known it would suck, I wouldn't have bothered. Treasure Island was awesome compared to this. (less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jason Koivu
More appropriate title suggestion: SHOOT TO KILL! A less catchy but even more precise title would be We Killed a Lot of Animals: The Story of a Family Stranded on an Island, Who Were Never in Serious Danger and Who - I Believe It Has Been Mentioned, Yet Bears Repeating - Killed a Lot of Animals. The way they hauled off and shot at the slightest movement in the bushes was nearly worse than the drunken yahoos I've known who seemed to be purposefully trying to give hunters a bad name.

Infinite supp
...more
Jennifer
Sep 10, 2007 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
they kill or enslave everything in sight, whether they need it or not. they pray before they do anything. i'm pretty sure the matriarch of the family was never actually named, but merely called "the mother" or "my wife" any time she was relevant, which was not very often. near the end of the book, the family actually shoots a cachalot. they don't use it for anything, but instead axe the head open and take away buckets of spermaceti. a whole fucking sperm whale had to die just because they saw it ...more
Duane
I liked the story well enough. If I had read a decent translation I might have given it 4 stars. It's a great concept, being stranded on a beautiful tropical island. Their perception over 200 years ago would be quite different than ours today. Some things that bothered me were the stereotyping regarding race and religion, and the senseless killing of the wildlife they came across. But it's an adventure story and it's entertaining from that aspect. It left me wanting to know what happened later, ...more
Sarah
Nov 19, 2008 Sarah rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I have great memories of Dad reading this to us as kids, it was so hoplessly archaic and ridiculous that his rendition quickly became sarcastic. We all ended up in fits of laughter each time they found ANOTHER useful thing washed up on the beach/growing on the magic island, and/or shot ANOTHER hapless animal/person/moving object that crossed their path.
Marty Reeder
Wow. What a relief to have that out of the way ... I have been painstakingly pushing my way through this book for a while now. Having said that, I always thought that The Swiss Family Robinson was just the type of story that I would like. Going into it, my expectations were high and I think my enthusiasm barreled me past the first few chapters without so much as a literary bump. But just like trying to race up Everest, you lose steam after the first hundred yard sprint and the rest is pure drudg ...more
Sara
Mar 19, 2015 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started this book, I found it rather comical at how many reviewers were appalled by all the animals that were killed, (mostly for food, some for safety, albeit, some for sport or rather teenage childishness). And I thought to myself, not having read the book yet "Where do these readers think their chicken nuggets and hamburgers come from? Trees?" After having read the book, I will confess, there were a lot of dead animals. But if one really takes the time to imagine what it would be ...more
Jill
Apr 06, 2008 Jill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've read this a couple times to the boys. As a mom of boys, I loved it. It is fun to read of the ingenious solutions for survival, and I love their constant reliance on and gratitude to God.

And Eric says:

I love the many passages of the book that go something like this...After my wife and children had expressed their ideas, I explained the folly of their reasoning and they rejoiced in my knowledge and wisdom.

Dream on ER.
carrie
May 12, 2008 carrie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
*****SPOILER ALERT *****
I've read it now, and it does not measure up to the Disney movie. It was so ridiculous! The boys shoot every animal they see, which range from inhabitants of the African savannah, Australia, and the American northwest -- yes, hippos, rhinos, lions, tigers, kangaroos, bears, elephants, the duck-billed platypus, you name it, they're on the island. The father knows absolutely everything about every plant and animal, and sums up every situation correctly before it happens. He
...more
kingshearte
Dec 14, 2009 kingshearte rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The enchanting story of a shipwrecked family - a minister, his wife, and four sons, Fritz, Ernest, Francis, and Jack - who are cast up on a desert island, build a wonderful house in a tree, and survive so cleverly and happily apart from the world that they never want to be rescued.

And from the inside back cover:
The author of The Swiss Family Robinson was actually a number of people. Originally, Swiss Army chaplain Johann David Wyss (1743-1818) wrote an adventure story modeled after Daniel Defoe
...more
Lisa Kay
★★☆☆ Torture to get through to the end. Talk about Fantasy Island. And they, or their dogs, killed everything they came across. Ugh. Enjoyed the movie more. (Did I just say that?)

New Switzerland


Per Wiki:
But the novel differs in that it is modeled on Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, a genuine adventure story, and presents a geographically impossible array of mammals, birds, reptiles, and plants (including the bamboos, cassavas, cinnamon trees, coconut palm trees, fir trees, flax, Myrica cerifera, rice, r
...more
The Book Queen
I had no idea this one had so many negative reviews... oh well, it appears I am once again in the minority, although funnily enough now I'm apparently the only one who loves this, while everyone else hates it. Never mind, someone has to hold down the fort.

This has always been my favourite classic; I read this first when I was about ten and I've re-read it occasionally ever since. I think this may be my fourth or fifth time re-reading it. It's great.

This is how you write a story about a shipwreck
...more
Amy
May 22, 2012 Amy rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club, fiction
Stop right now! Before you read this book, I must warn you! The back of the book is a LIE! All of that "they must rely on their wits, the strength that comes from family ties, and the bounty of nature to survive" is all a crock of baloney. Complete fabrication. They're stranded with enough supplies to start a small colony. Guns & timber from the shipwreck I could understand, but butter, livestock, tools, *blacksmith* tools, fishing hooks, needle, thread, extra clothes, enough seeds to start ...more
Renee M
"Written by Swiss pastor Johann David Wyss and edited by his son Johann Rudolf Wyss, the novel was intended to teach his four sons about family values, good husbandry, the uses of the natural world and self-reliance. Wyss' attitude toward education is in line with the teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and many of the episodes have to do with Christian-oriented moral lessons such as frugality, husbandry, acceptance, cooperation, etc. The adventures are presented as a series of lessons in natura ...more
mark monday
Oct 29, 2011 mark monday rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-loves
Family: It Does a Body Good.

Family: The Other White Meat?

Family: It's What's for Dinner!
†Ðawn†
DNF 20%

Decided to edit my review.

I tried to get through it but the lack of any serious conflict was disappointing. I understand this was written to teach children about survival, but that is all it seems to be. A book about teaching children about survival.

I understand this was originally written in another language and in a another time, and I had no problem with that. I also had no problem with the fact it was a rather wholesome and perfect view of life, but was hard to swallow was the lack o
...more
Christie
Oct 03, 2007 Christie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
I absolutely loved this book, and have read it again and again. I also read it to my family and we all had goosebumps during the passage about the large snake eating the donkey.
Jama
This is a book for kids, and my boys really like it a lot.

Many of the negative reviews posted about this book are totally correct. The Swiss Family is a product of its time. They treat the island like their playground, killing and domesticating everything in sight. They mention god a lot. They never name the mother, and she stays in the background cooking and mending things while the father and boys go out adventuring, but in all fairness, none of the characters have real fleshed out personali
...more
Drayton Alan
Jun 12, 2014 Drayton Alan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Its fascinating to read these reviews and see how many people judge a story of this time period by the values of the 21st century. I doubt any of the people who have written these reviews have ever missed a meal let alone faced the dangers of survival in a wilderness.
The story was written to fire the minds and hearts of children of the day. It taught them about the things that were important to their future and their families. Try to remember that a child reading this book in Europe may have
...more
Kipahni
"oh fritz," said I to my young companion " What do you suppose that yellow feathered creature flying yonder is?"

Bang, boom fritz shot the animal (as well as a number of it's companions and a few european black squirrels that were just innocently watching) and where it fell to the ground we examined it.

" Why father! It is the Magestic Big Bird of the Seseame Street that I have read about. It is known in that part of the Neighborhood that children will congregate around it as it sings learning son
...more
Brandy Painter
Nov 07, 2009 Brandy Painter rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: childrens, classic
Wasted potential are the words that most aptly describe this book. A family is shipwrecked and must survive on an island with only each other for support. It should have been a great adventure story. Instead the reader is treated to page after page of monotony. Even the scenes that should have sparked interest were dull and completely lifeless. The characters are obnoxiously perfect. The father knows everything there is to know about everything and accomplishes herculean tasks (like bridge build ...more
Dan JK
Jun 03, 2013 Dan JK rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book was almost mildly entertaining until it became disgustingly unbearable. In truth I only listened to half of the book. I decided to listen to it based on fond memories of the tv show from when I was a child, but It was honestly a complete waste of 4 hours of my life... even though I was working...
The writing of this book is completely lost to the ages and changes in societal beliefs

Enter this father that seems to know every little thing about surviving in the wilderness, so much so that
...more
Melissa
Feb 06, 2012 Melissa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel Terry
Oct 30, 2009 Rachel Terry rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: juvie, classics
Now I understand why there are so many abridged editions of this book. It is repetitive and tedious and is held by such a tenuous thread of a plot that you barely care what's going to happen next.

I have come up with some other titles for this book, just in case marketers would like to advertise from a different angle:

How To:

101 Ways to Skin a Mammal

How to Use Deserted Islands to Make Men of Your Boys

Memoir:

Apes I Have Destroyed

Master's Thesis:

A History of the Magnificent Inventions of One Swiss
...more
Joceline Foley
Jul 19, 2012 Joceline Foley rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I feel a tiny bit terrible giving a classic novel only one star, but this book is a tiny bit terrible itself, so I think it all evens out.

This book lacks two integral elements of a novel: plot and characters. All six members of the family are apparently robots who exist only to shoot animals unnecessarily, do everything perfectly the first time, and speak like a bunch of old-fashioned Christian computers. Also, Mr. Robinson (did he have a first name? I never caught one) berates his children for
...more
Dree
Oct 17, 2009 Dree rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Misogynistic drivel.

Father knows all. About everything. Animals, plants, trees; how to build, cook, grow, and make things he remembers reading about in some book some time ago. Mother cooks, and cleans, and is incredibly strong and clever for someone who needs so much protection. Boys are clever and kill everything in sight.

When I was a kid my brother had a beautiful illustrated edition of this book. (I had Pinocchio.) I read mine, and I wanted to read his books soooo badly. These editions were
...more
Brittany (brittanymariereads)
The best way that I can describe this book is to compare it to a children's roller coaster. There are a few highs then never quite reach the potential of what they could be but mostly it is just flat with soft turns here and there.

The Swiss Family Robinson was about a family who was involved in shipwreck that led to them being on a deserted island. The book tells of their efforts to make the island home. They are faced with very few hardships or struggles. It was almost a how to guide for livin
...more
Jack Wang
Feb 08, 2008 Jack Wang rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who just love a warm story for entertainment
Recommended to Jack by: I did
It was awsome like a family of Robinson Crusoes shipwrecked and living on an unknown Island But wait there is more they might not be they only human inhabidance on the island. are they friendly are hostile read and find out!
Jillian Neyhart
Nov 05, 2016 Jillian Neyhart rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I could not finish this book. It's horribly written, and the movie was much better. I rarely put a book down, but I just didn't have it in me to continue.
Two Bibliomaniacs
Ugh, what happened to Roberta, coconut bombs, family animal races, and pirate alarms? Seriously, how did they not get incorporated into the novel? Someone get Johann David Wyss on the phone!

Shipwrecked off the cost of a tropical island, the Robinsons must forge an unlikely partnership with nature and circumstance to ensure their survival. They must utilize every bit of their intellect to conquer, build, gather, plant, and tame. Not only does the family survive, but they find a way to thrive, whi
...more
Patty Jansen
Sep 24, 2011 Patty Jansen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I love the good classics. For example we have all books in the Anne of Green Gables series. They are obviously written in a different time and in a style that was common then: lots of description and day-to-day happenings without a strong plot. But these books give a beautiful and interesting flavour of times past.

This book, however... I completely fail to understand why this ever became a classic.

It starts well, but soon the book gets bogged in chapter after chapter of problems too easily solve
...more
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From Christian Classics Library

Wyss is best remembered for his book The Swiss Family Robinson . A pastor with four sons, it is said that he was inspired by Defoe's Robinson Crusoe to write a story from which his own children would learn, as the father in the story taught important lessons to his children.

The Swiss Family Robinson was first published in 1812 and translated into English two years
...more
More about Johann David Wyss...

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“It was one of those happy days that God grants us sometimes on earth to give us an idea of the bliss of heaven.” 9 likes
“The monkeys seized all the cocoanuts within their reach and sent them down upon us” 9 likes
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