Madeline's Reviews > Treasure Island

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
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Jan 02, 12

bookshelves: the-list, the-movie-is-better
Read from December 26, 2011 to January 01, 2012

"Squire Trelawney, Dr. Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars of Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, 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."

Regardless of what you think of Treasure Island as a story (and we'll get there, not to worry), its importance in establishing modern adventure tropes can't be denied. So many of the things we think of when we imagine pirates - peg legs, parrots on shoulders, fifteen men on a dead man's chest, the Black Spot - were invented by Stevenson in this book. Basically every single portrayal of pirates created after this story is based in some way on what Stevenson wrote, so if nothing else I appreciate this book for providing us with everything from Captain Hook to Jack Sparrow. ("Captain Jack Sparrow.")

So it's just too bad that I didn't enjoy this book as much as I wanted to. Sure, it's exciting for a while, what with the murderous pirates attacking the inn and Jim Hawkins setting out on a crazy treasure-hunting adventure, but around the time they get to the island the plot grinds practically to a halt. It takes chapters and chapters for them to get anywhere or do anything, and I was immensely appreciative of how movie versions of this story make sure to move the action along quickly once they land on the island. Also, Book Jim is kind of an idiot - he stows away with Silver & Co. when they row to the island (even though Jim knows that Silver is evil) just for the hell of it, and he abandons his friends again once they're on the island and have a stronghold set up, because the best thing to do when you're on a strange island full of pirates who want to kill you is go exploring without telling anyone.

Also you'll notice in the passage I quoted above, Jim's father is alive at the beginning of the story. He dies pretty quickly, but I prefer how in the movie versions Jim's dad is long gone, having abandoned his son or died a long time ago. It just makes more narrative sense: in order for him to latch on to Long John Silver so quickly, Jim needs to be saddled with enough daddy issues to embarrass a stripper.

So in conclusion, I'm glad I read this book, if only to appreciate its cultural significance, but the movie versions I've seen are infinitely more enjoyable.

(In case anyone is curious, I have seen two different film versions of Treasure Island. First is Muppet Treasure Island, which makes Stevenson's original seem plodding and boring and horribly miscast - Captain Smollett is and always will be Kermit, and there has never been a better Long John Silver than Tim Curry. Also, Disney's experimental steampunk take on the story, Treasure Planet is highly underrated, in my opinion.)
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Reading Progress

12/26/2011 page 71
20.0% "Stevenson can describe Squire Trewlawney as being six feet tall with black eyebrows all he likes; I'm still going to continue picturing the character as Fozzie Bear. ("This is Mr. Bimble. He lives in my finger.")"
01/01/2012 page 250
71.0% "Jim Hawkins, who has never seen sea lions before, describes them as "huge slimy monsters" and is afraid of them. Awww."

Comments (showing 1-13 of 13) (13 new)

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message 1: by Rinoa (new)

Rinoa Heartilly Treasure Planet is my favourite Disney movie. I <3 you so much now :D

message 2: by Frankie (new)

Frankie Good review dearie

Madeline Thank you, Frankie!

Isn't it a great movie? I'm so glad to hear that I'm not the only one who loves it. Someone has usually uploaded the entire movie onto Youtube, and I re-watch it every now and then.

Also it was one of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's first movies, and I try to be very supportive of my imaginary husband's career.

Zero I was lucky enough to read this at a young age - I'd probably still enjoy the book now, probably because I don't read very often about pirates. I'm yet to watch the movies though.

Madeline You should definitely watch Muppet Treasure Island. The whole movie is usually on Youtube somewhere, so you can watch it for free!

message 6: by Frankie (new)

Frankie Ricky Gervais says that the only true Christmas Carol is a Muppet Christmas Carol. He's hoping they make a Muppet Schindler's List.

Madeline Does it make me a bad person if I immediately pictured Kermit's nephew Robin playing the little girl in the red coat?

message 8: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia HA! Muppet Schindler's List!!

Muppet Diary of Anne Frank!!

Muppet Girl, Interrupted!

Muppet Go Ask Alice!

message 9: by Frankie (new)

Frankie you're not a bad person maddy. i once watched schindler's list and the dark crystal in one night. my dreams were mental. skeksis in nazi uniforms, mystics wandering around concentration camps, liam neason as a gelfling. i was not on drugs i swear.

Madeline In my experience, watching Jim Henson's fantasy films (Mirrormask, anyone?) frequently gives one the feeling of being on drugs.

message 11: by Frankie (new)

Frankie I agree. Mirrormask, Legend, Labrynth...

Becky ^ probably the best discussion I have ever seen. I watch Muppet Treasure Island probably 10 times a year. Its like a sickness. If my husband is out of the house its a safe best that any Jim Henson production will be on my tv and I'll be prancing around singing all the songs.

Except for Curry. I stay in awed silence for that man. God I love him.

message 13: by Tadiana (last edited Mar 25, 2015 09:10AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tadiana Disney's Treasure Planet was seriously underrated! I watched that one multiple times on video along with my kids when it came out and, unlike many videos, it didn't get old for me. I thought it was an excellent take on this old story.

And now it's clear to me that I need to go watch Muppet Treasure Island sometime soon.

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