6.9.12

TREASURE ISLAND by Robert Luis Stevenson

Had Mr Stevenson decided to keep studying engineering or law instead of following his real interest, literature, no kid since 1881 would have enjoyed this masterpiece of children's literature.

He wrote it for his 12-year-old stepson, Lloyd, and it quickly became a bestseller.

This great success was due, on the one hand, to the new ideas about children's education introduced by the recent Romantic movement,  as I've already mentioned in my Peter Pan post, and, on the other hand, to compulsory schooling that increased the literacy among the working class and consequently the audience.
Finally, new advances in printing technology allowed publishers to add colorful illustrations to books to appeal the young readers.

Actually, the map of the island, where the bloodthirstiest pirate ever to sail the Seven Seas, Cap'n Flint, had buried his 'booty' could be found in all the printed editions of the book and it gives us an idea of the adventures full of suspense we'll have if we join Jim Hawkins and the crew of the Hispaniola throughout the Caribbean sea.

The narrator is Jim, a young boy who lives and works at the Admiral Benbow Inn with his parents. At a certain point an old seaman, Billy Bones, holding a big sea-chest, appears at the door of the Inn and decides to stay for a long time, drinking huge quantities of rum a telling pirates' stories, until one day the pirate Blind Pew gives him a paper with the Black Spot indicating the time at which his old companions, Cap'n Flint's men, will arrive to kill him and take his chest to discover where the treasure is.

Billy Bones is so afraid of being killed at that very moment by an heart attack. Jim and his mother (his Father died few days before) decide to open the sea-chest to see if they can get any money of the huge amount the old captain owed to the Inn for his stay and at the same time they find the packet with the map.

Time moves fast when you're in danger and the pirates aren't trustworthy people, so it is earlier than indicated on the Black Spot when Jim hears the stick of Blind Pew getting close. They manage to run out of the Inn and hide under a bridge while the angry buccaneers are searching the Admiral Bembow looking for the papers, until the police come and all the pirates run away leaving Blind Pew heading towards the galloping horse that killed him.

Jim now has the perfect excuse to start his journey to adulthood and make his own way in the world; together with Dr Livesey and Sqire Trelawney he joins the crew of the Hispaniola, as cabin boy, in Bristol.

The most peculiar character presented in this novel is Long John Silver; a cunning, sly, one-legged man with a parrot on his shoulder: he is the pirate whom all other buccaneers in popular culture are based on.

But be careful! Even if he is an educated pirate, who can talk like a book, he's always an old sea-dog and he can change sides every time he needs to… this is the reason why adventures and suspense are behind the corner of every page!

I really recommend this book even if sometimes pirate vocabulary makes it obscure and incomprehensible.

Actually, pirate vocabulary is one of the reasons why I decide to pick it up: in my most secret dreams I can see myself leading a pirate battle among my young students.

So I did a little investigation, and here you are!!! Some of the easiest and entertaining pirates' expressions:

Ahoy      

/əˈhɔɪ/ Hello!
Avast!     

/əˈvɑːst/ Hey! Could also be used as "Stop that!" or "Who goes there?"
Aye         

/aɪ/ Yes
Aye Aye!    

Yes Sir! 
Begad!    
/bɪˈgad/ By God! 
Black Spot 
To "place the Black Spot" on another pirate is to sentence him to death, to warn him he is marked for death, or sometimes just to accuse him of a serious crime before other pirates.
Blimey!    

/ ˈblaɪmɪ/ An exclamation of surprise.
Booty       

Loot. Stolen goods. Treasure
Cutlass        

Short sword with a slightly curved blade
Doubloon

/dʌˈbluːn/ Spanish gold coin
Dog            

Bad man
Chart

Map
Gunner          

Sailor who fires the cannons
Eyepatch    

Patch worn to protect an injured eye.
Hands         

Sailors
Hook   
Jolly Roger     

Pirates' flag
Lubber        

/ˈlʌbə/ Land lover, not a sailor, a wimpy person
Maroon        

Abandon on a deserted island, a person who was abandoned
Mutiny         

/ˈmjuːtəni/ When members of a crew or army overthrow their officers
Me         

My
Pieces of Eight 

Spanish silver coin
Seafaring     

/ˈsiːfeərɪŋ/  Working or traveling on the sea
Seaman         

Sailor
Squall    

/skwɔːl/ Storm
Walk the plank 

To be forced to walk off the end of a wooden plank, fall into the sea and drown (a pirate's form of execution)
Vessel    

/ˈvesl/  Ship
Villain    

/ˈvɪlən/ Wicked person or a person guilty of a crime.

I'll leave you the link of this Pirate Song: Talk Like a Pirate for Kids,
and some very interesting activities about the topic: 

Activities about Pirates
Enjoy it!