Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Treasure Island

I already talked earlier this week about why I chose to listen to "Treasure Island" by Robert Louis Stevenson on Librivox. I simply liked the narrator's voice. For the most part, I'm pretty ambivalent towards the book, but there is one aspect that fascinated me, and that is Robert Louis Stevenson's use of vagueness.

I think older movies had it right: don't show the monster because what each individual viewer can imagine is more scary for than something that every single audience member will see.  Robert Louis Stevenson might be the reason we depict pirates the way we do. He was very descriptive about certain unique aspects of his characters, but the vagueness comes in with the aspects he doesn't really talk about, like age.  Part of this is probably because the narrator in the story is young, and to a younger teenager everyone over 25 is just old, but it really helps the reader/listener create a scary or heroic picture in their head. Movies today have made us numb to scary monsters. Just because we have the words, or means to show every hairy detail of characters or monsters, doesn't mean we should.  There is power in vagueness. 


  1. This is definitely something that I feel plays a big role for me in determining what is actually scary, especially in terms of fiction. I am the same way and would rather envision the villains for myself. Everyone has there own standards for what is scary according to them.

  2. Part of the "magic" with reading a good story, is the way the author is able to create images in our minds. Every individual will definitely create something unique. Wouldn't it be cool if there were a huge screen of all our personal interpretations going on so we could see what images were created in other minds?