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Squire Trelawnay

6 December 2017

Squire Trelawnay, Dr Livesey, and the rest of these gentlemen having asked me to write down the whole particulars about Treasure Island, from the beginning to the end, keeping nothing back but the bearings of the island, and that only because there is still treasure not yet lifted, I take up my pen in the year of grace 17– and go back to the time when my father kept the Admiral Benbow inn and the brown old seaman with the sabre cut first took up his lodging under our roof.

Robert Louis Stevenson, first line from Treasure Island

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13 Comments to “Squire Trelawnay”

  1. Ashe Elton Parker

    I love long sentences, even if they don’t make me interested in the story they’re introducing. 😛

  2. That one sentence is a whole prologue.

  3. Hemingway would’ve broken that into 15 sentences.

    • It probably wouldn’t have been the same book if Hemingway had written it.

    • Not necessarily.

      Hemingway could do some pretty long sentences himself.

      This one from “A Farewell to Arms” comes to mind:

      “That night in the mess after the spaghetti course, which everyone ate very quickly and seriously, lifting the spaghetti on the fork until the loose strands hung clear then lowering it into the mouth, or else using a continuous lift and sucking into the mouth, helping ourselves to wine from the grass-covered gallon flask; it swung in a metal cradle and you pulled the neck of the flask down with the forefinger and the wine, cigar red, tannic and lovely, poured out into the glass held with the same hand; after this course, the captain commenced picking on the priest.”

  4. I’ve always loved the way Stevenson took apart the Rev Dr Hyde in his open letter in defense of Damien of Molokai. This quote is from the beginning, but at various points in the letter, he rips the man to shreds quite eloquently.

    “It may probably occur to you that we have met, and visited,
    and conversed; on my side, with interest. You may remember that
    you have done me several courtesies, for which I was prepared to be grateful. But there are duties which come before gratitude, and offences which justly divide friends, far more acquaintances. Your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage is a document which, in my sight, if you had filled me with bread when I was starving, if you had sat up to nurse my father when he lay a-dying, would yet absolve me from the bonds of gratitude.”

  5. I love Treasure Island, and Kidnapped, but the “I take up my pen in the year of grace 17–” line made me smile. If you’re not going to specify the year, why would you mention it?

  6. I love Stevenson. I dramatized Treasure Island, Kidnapped and Catriona for BBC Radio, years ago. It taught me so much about what a fine writer he was.

    • Yes, Stevenson’s prose has held up well. Still enjoyable a century and a quarter later. That’s saying something.

  7. It’s been a while, but “The Adventures of Ben Gunn” by R.F. Delderfield was a fun read. It’s the story as told from Ben Gunn’s perspective, including the leadup, and the years after.

  8. wont give you longitude and latitude, cause treasure’s still there. Old sabre scar showed up, and that’s where the true story starts, reader…

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