Searching for Stevenson’s treasure

treasure island was born to overcome the boredom of a hopelessly quiet wet afternoon in 1881, in a ‘gloomy’ cottage within the Highlands. At 29, penniless, his well being ruined by tuberculosis, Robert Louis Stevenson regretted his failure to jot down a single novel… He would lastly succeed.

All of it begins with a map. Stevenson sees younger Lloyd Osbourne, his stepson, coloring to go the time and begins to attract the map of an imaginary island. “There have been coves there, harbors, which enchanted me as a lot as sonnets, and with the unconscious of the predestined I baptized my work treasure island“he says within the quick testimonial” My first guide: Treasure Islandrevealed in 1894 (Essays on the Artwork of FictionPayot, translated from English by Marie-France Watkins and Michel Le Bris).

grizzly bear hunters

It’s this card that results in the writing of the whole novel. Swept up in pleasure, Stevenson writes a chapter every day and reads it to his household gathered across the night hearth. Her stepson and the author’s father, Thomas Stevenson, get excited and make ideas. The primary half of the story is on paper in fifteen days.

The creator is then at a turning level in his life. He has simply returned from a grueling journey to America to affix the girl he loves, the maverick Fanny Osborne, a painter ten years his senior and mom of two. Throughout this journey, he lived the equal of ten journey novels. He virtually died twice. He rubbed the shoulders of treasure hunters and killers, whalers and grizzlies… His well being is ruined, however Fanny has agreed to observe him and marry him. Again in Europe he’s a special man. He’ll write his masterpieces, The grasp of Ballantrae, The Unusual Case of Physician Jekyll and Mr Hydeand naturally treasure island. This novel “for kids” makes him an “grownup” creator, in full possession of his talents.

Dry dock

In a letter dated August 25, 1881, Stevenson confided to the poet William Ernest Henley: “This can be very amusing to jot down tales for younger folks. You simply have to present in to the pleasure of your coronary heart, that is all. After fifteen days wherein the textual content appears to movement by itself, the enthusiastic creator experiences a breakdown. Not a breath of wind on the ocean of ​​his creativeness, right here he’s calmed dangerously. It wasn’t till October 1881, within the “dying home” of Davos, Switzerland, the place he was being handled for his tuberculosis, that he miraculously ended his story.

Additionally learn: Guide. Robert Louis Stevenson: Working, Half I

What says treasure island? Younger Jim Hawkins, 14, discovers a treasure map within the trunk of a cranky previous seal, Billy Bones, murdered by a terrifying band of pirates. The younger man palms the cardboard to Physician Livesey and Knight Trelawney. The latter decides to equip a ship, L’Hispaniola, to seek for the loot. The success of the guide owes lots to its characters, crooked and comical villains, picturesque lawless buccaneers who can compromise for a bottle of rum or just a few gold cash.

Way more than Jim Hawkins, the actual hero of this story is the prepare dinner on board, Lengthy John Silver, to whom we’d give the great God with out confession, along with his picket leg and his parrot, Captain Flint, on his shoulder. He’ll turn into ambiguous and crafty at will, one of the crucial scrumptious villains in literature. When the island looms on the horizon, the mutiny rumbles, it appears, ordered by the satan himself.

California vegetation

The reader imagines an oasis of coconut palms, effective sand seashores, the Caribbean Sea… Stevenson’s invented island is definitely impressed by the Californian vegetation, with its willows, oaks and pines. “She was concerning the form of a giant dragon standing on her hind legs,” Jim says. Its “grayish and melancholic forests”, its “wild spires”, its “steep shores” the place the surf rumbles, alert us… Just like the novel itself, the island is ambiguous and treacherous, half-unblemished paradise, half-hell-on soil. Malaria breeds in its Mephite swamps. Maybe that is the actual odor of gold: dying brought on by the treasure hunt by the ages.

The quaint journey

Evaluate younger folks serialized the novel between October 1, 1881 and January 28, 1882, with out enthusing the general public. It appeared in quantity in November 1883, in a revised model by the creator. This time it’s a success, which has not been denied since.

On this re-creation, Stevenson can let his pirates swear freely with out worry of censorship. His writing revives a complete custom with sophistication: Edgar Allan Poe, Washington Irving or Daniel Defoe.

When treasure island appears, journey tales are out of style. We’re in full naturalism. Stevenson does a miracle. It “awakens infantile wishes for tales, reconnects with primary wants (of the ocean, of journey, of tales) that we thought have been out of style, however are continuously being found,” concludes Marc Porée in his word of the version of treasure island within the Pléiade library.

To learn once more: The craziest tales are sometimes the truest

Since its publication, many authors and adventurers have got down to discover the well-known island. Might it’s Cocos Island, off the coast of Costa Rica? For researcher Michel Le Bris, it’s Monterey, California (Michel Le Bris, To greet Stevenson, Flammarion, 2000). The Swiss Alex Capus has his concept. Made well-known by Leon and Louise (Actes Sud, 2012), offered over one million copies, the novelist from Olten devoted a exceptional essay to Stevenson, Traveler below the celebrities (Actes Sud, 2017). In keeping with him, the treasure island is in Samoa, the place the author spent the final 5 years of his life (on the lookout for the gold he had talked about himself).

On board Lena

What higher place than a ship to summon the limitless seek for? treasure island? Within the port of Neuchâtel, Alex Capus invitations us aboard the Léna, his Dutch boat from 1967. He runs the engine, which appears like a big typewriter. We is not going to go away the port, it was only for the pleasure of listening to it. “It breaks on a regular basis. So we’re on a floating island, off the coast of Neuchâtel,” says the proprietor. Stevenson pursuits him as a person; the work leaves him chilly. “A novel for youngsters, for kids… Frankly, it lacks literary depth…” With Stevenson’s obvious simplicity, Alex Capus prefers the massive machines, the Russian novels or Zola’s frescoes. In love along with his model, he most likely would not have dared treasure island personal territory or conquer it as a pirate.

Lastly learn: The True and Wonderful Story of “Treasure Island”

Alex Capus pulls us out on the quays earlier than he leaves: those that discover treasures, it isn’t those that search them, it’s the Sunday walkers, with their canine, by probability. The treasure maps are all faux. What if the valuable loot was proper in entrance of our eyes? This novel, revealed in 1883, is concurrently the map, the journey, the island and the treasure. You may take it with you, in your pocket, to rediscover it each time you learn it.


Robert-Louis Stevenson, treasure island. Translated and edited by Marc Porée. Folio, 313 pp.

Alex Capus, Traveler below the celebrities. Translated from the German by Emanuel Güntzburger. Actes Sud, 240 p.

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