le plus loin le plus serré

le plus loin le plus serré
mourning art

in memoriam

"yet I tell you, from the sad knowledge of my older experience, that to every one of you a day will most likely come when sunshine, hope, presents and pleasure will be worth nothing to you in comparison with the unattainable gift of your mother's kiss." (Christina Rossetti, "Speaking Likenesses," 1873)

Sunday, April 01, 2007

shiver me timbers!

That Robert Louis Stevenson is something else! I read TREASURE ISLAND for the first time way, way back at the start of my children's lit studies (fall term, 1998! my second year of undergrad!), and felt kind of alienated by it. I felt like I was a girlie-girl reading a Boy Book.

Nine years later, I think it's a fantastic awesome book and I'm loving it! I have about a chapter or two to go to fully finish it, but what a book! How piratey! The dead man-compass on Spyglass Hill! the Jolly Roger! Tipping the Black Spot! It's great. And having just read both Peter Pan and Swallows & Amazons, it's nice to refresh my frame of reference. Has there ever been a more peculiarly wonderful creepy character than the Sea-Cook?

Kidnapped kind of baffled me. I really enjoyed reading it - Stevenson sure knows how to tell a story. And I was curious to follow the plot - I was caught up in David's plight. But I felt that something much more significant was going on in the book, politically, than I could really keep up with. My Scottish history is truly abysmal - I have a very vague notion of bonny prince charlie and some connection to the French, but that's about it.
I wonder about Stevenson's decision to set his book during this time period, and what it means for his own times. Some kind of Scottish nationalism, I imagine, though truly, I don't know. I was expecting a much more ship-bound book; this tour of the heather was a surprise, but a pleasant one. I liked the feel the book had of being fog-bound in odd corners of a uncertain land - never knowing if friends or enemies were in the next village over. The Scots "dialect" Stevenson writes for his characters flummoxed me at times; my edition had only a very, very few notes to help the ignorant american reader with the terms and spellings. Despite that, I found it a thoroughly captivating book, and that is actually quite a compliment.

I'm not sure what I'll read to follow up on the excitement of Stevenson. I have some poetry - Lear's nonsense, and Belloc's cautionary poems - but even though I know I'll like them, I have a hard time really sticking with poetry. one or two at a time is enough for me.

I need to read the Pooh books, though, for the syllabus I'm planning AND for my project, so maybe I'll hit them next.......

But Treasure Island for sure is in my list of Must Reads as well as Must Haves. I don't own a copy of it, and this must be rectified! When I decide I need to own a book I've read, that is how you know it's a good book.

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