Friday, May 03, 2013

Imaginative Swashbuckling

Long John SilverLong John Silver 
by Björn Larsson

"I saw the sun set in a sea of ​​liquid fire and arise as a ball of burning copper. I saw the moon to shine the veils of the night sky as wisps and reflected in the slow breath of the waves. I have seen the sea so smooth and the air so clear that the starry seemed doubling the point that it was not clear what was the most and under which the above, and it seemed to sail inside a globe shining lights. I've seen skies and clouds that an artist would take entire existence trying to play. " Bjorn Larsson

If you loved Robert Louis Stevenson's adventure novel, Treasure Island, you may like Swedish writer Larsson’s first US publication, a retelling of the life of the pirate Silver.  Comfortably retired on Madagascar in 1742, Silver is nettled that all the literature written about his life has got it wrong. Amid his plundered riches and house staff, he opens his recollections during his youth back in Scotland, where he’s raised a motherless son by a drunken father.
Having learned the knack of plucky self-reliance, he takes to the sea, is shipwrecked, and later is rescued by Dunn, a charitable soul of baffling kindness. Silver falls in love and has multiple adventures at sea, sailing on an unlikely variety of ships. As expected Captain Flint enters the story.  The action scenes in these passages are what make the book, since Silver’s meditations on slavery, independence, honor, and human rights are something less than stirring. There is a cameo appearance by none other than Defoe, who discusses literature; but also plenty of rum, treasure, plundering and pirate-like misbehaviour.
While it is likely that few of Stevenson’s Treasure Island readers have been terribly gripped by Silver’s inner life this exposition is worth a look. After all. the genial old salt is harmless enough and capable of telling a good yarn from his kit bag of memories.

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