treasure, canon, fire

I’m continuing my attempt to read the so-called literary canon. I know that those short story/novella bits of Joseph Conrad I mentioned are not considered canon, Conrad at least got one in there. I’m reading _Treasure Island_ by Robert Louis Stevenson and although only halfway through I was finding it hard to understand how it was considered a great. Without background knowledge of the book (and forgetting that he also wrote Jekyll and Hyde) I’d been thinking that maybe Stevenson was like the ‘last guy in’ being admitted to the hallowed halls of canon. Or perhaps there was a bureaucratic bungle somewhere along the way and that’s how _Treasure Island_ got in there. When I think about it, I feel like that’s how I got my last three jobs, including the one I’ve just started.

Not that I think T.I. is a bad story, it just seems a bit like Biggles in the pirate era. I had to <a href=”http://www.enotes.com/treasure-island-criticism/treasure-island-robert-louis-stevenson”>look it up</a> and as can be the situation, the story was quite FRESH for it’s time, that being 1881 and since that was a while back, it can be difficult to appreciate that without looking it up.

One thing I can take from it is a life lesson from the character Long John Silver, who’s missing _a whole damn leg_. Right up to the hip bone, if my understanding is correct. And if Stevenson can be praised for anything in this book, it is his clarity in describing Silver’s lack of a leg. Personally, as a person with two legs but who often lacks the motivation to actually leave the house and do stuff, I find Long John Silver an inspiration. With his well-muscled shoulder, home-made crutch and can-do attitude he is still able to carry out the role of ship’s cook more than adequately, not to mention continuing his true calling as a pirate-ship cap’n who craves treasure. No kind of terrain, including steep hills of soft sand, will stop him from getting what he wants. If anyone turns their back to walk away from him without acquiescing to his demands he uses his crutch as a javelin and thumps them in the back with it, and while they’re down on the ground, winded, he stabs them in the throat. Now that’s attitude.

It would undoubtedly be a lot easier to be a wheelchairperson in Melbourne than Seoul but while that may be a good thing for the people who genuinely are disabled, it provides an in for ultra-fat-asses with motor wheelchairs and the broken-minded who’ve given in to the idea that being in a motorchair is all that they are capable of. Those people should read _Treasure Island_ and try to draw some inspiration from it.

 

It’s funny the way electronic publishing works. If you’re a new author trying to make your name with a short novel or the like then you’re not likely to be charging much. A dollar or two dollars maybe, in order to build a readership. And then if you’re a big-name author your e-book can ask up to 12 bucks for a download. Then if you really crack it you write something that speaks for a whole generation, is well-remembered a hundred years later and makes it into those canon lists then (electronically at least) it becomes free = $0.

<a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/sunnybreaks/6948228605/” title=”IMG_0965 by esquimauxpie, on Flickr”><img src=”http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7199/6948228605_3506c3efef_m.jpg” width=”240″ height=”240″ alt=”IMG_0965″></a>

I got my mum a kindle for last christmas since she’s always buying and reading paperback novels and they’re piling up around the house. She liked it, and I was surprised because I did too. The screen is really easy to read. I’m used to reading on the laptop but there is a kind of subtle eye-fatigue that comes with reading coloured computer screens that doesn’t happen with the kindle’s “e-ink” display.

Sure I like paper books still. I’m not one of those people who says never make another book out of paper again but there’s a good chunk of books that don’t lose anything if they’re transferred to a device like this. There are some books I have that I can’t imagine ever wanting to electronically replace, like a lovely hardbacked copy of Burton’s translation of Tales from the Arabian Nights that has all these wood-block printed illustrations through it. Same with the original complete Lewis Carrol, with its illustrations (the pic from previous blog entry came from that). But I’ve owned all up three copies of J.G.Frazer’s _The Golden Bough_ and I don’t think any of them has weighed in at under half a kilo, which is a shame because I’d love to read snippets of it when I’m out and about… and now I can thanks to this amazing little electronic device. As mentioned, so many books that the establishment deems great are free – <a href=”http://manybooks.net/”>see here</a>.

One thought on “treasure, canon, fire”

  1. Thanks for the heads-up Lachy – I think I love the book format too much, but these would be ideal for travelling. We went on a country sojourn riding on the scooter last weekend and just four normal sized paperbacks made a significant weight difference and we ended up transferring them into another bag!

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