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Artful DodgersReconceiving the Golden Age of Children's Literature$
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Marah Gubar

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195336252

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195336252.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 06 December 2021

Collaborating with the Enemy

Collaborating with the Enemy

Treasure Island as Anti–Adventure Story

(p.69) 2 Collaborating with the Enemy
Artful Dodgers

Marah Gubar (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The boys' adventure story is perhaps the genre that seems least likely to invite child readers to dodge rather than succumb to adult authority, since such stories often strive to brainwash boys into committing themselves to the imperialist cause. Chapter 2 argues that Treasure Island, long accepted as an exemplary text in this regard, actually functions as an anti-adventure story, inciting child readers to see through the seductive propaganda of typical desert island romances. Like Ewing, Robert Louis Stevenson portrays the project of draining foreign lands of riches as traumatizing and morally problematic. At the same time, he exposes flattery as the key narrative technique adult storytellers employ to seduce children into embracing the project of empire-building. Thus, the duplicitous Long John Silver butters up Jim Hawkins using the very same techniques employed by writers like W. H. G. Kingston and R. M. Ballantyne: addressing the boy as an equal, promising to tell him the truth, and portraying him as an invaluable collaborator in the project of subduing foreign lands. Treasure Island warns children to beware of the treachery of such silver-tongued adult storytellers.

Keywords:   Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, anti-imperialism, adventure story, anti-adventure story, Robinsonade, desert island romance, Long John Silver, flattery

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