February 25th, 2011

Long John Silver

Long John Silver as Stevenson wrote him is very little like the yo-ho-hoing, parrot-shouldered caricature of the movies. He's an educated man- for a pirate- and a careful man- one who has salted his money away and made it to fifty without contracting a serious rum habit like Flint or Billy Bones. Generally speaking, Stevenson's pirates are swinish sensualists- incapable of thinking beyond the next carouse.  Silver is something much more dangerous- a calculating and ruthless capitalist. His jaunt to Treasure Island is the business venture that will finally enable him to set up as a gentleman- and ride in his coach to parliament. He is a born leader and cunning manager of men. I would call him psychopathic- if it weren't for the presence- or teasing absence (because we never get to meet her) of his old lady- a woman of colour- whom he is returning to at the end of the story and whom he trusts absolutely.