Friday, August 29, 2008

Unintentionally hilarious

To keep up with my "read one classic book per month that I've never read" goal, I picked up The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss. Written in the early 1800s, it is hilarious and fantastic--as in the sense of "extreme as to challenge belief" and "marked by extravagant fantasy" (thanks for those definitions, Webster).


The basic plot is this: a family of six is stranded on a desert island somewhere in the tropics. Everyone else on the ship dies but them; thankfully, the ship is beached and the Robinson family can ransack it for EVERYTHING you could possibly ever need.

This is a fantasy; the family can do and make anything you can think of--bridges, a house, irrigation systems, a weaving loom, etc. Their life isn't hard; it's just busy making different tools and such.

Oh, and this island they live on is populated with an incredible amount of species. Don't worry though--Father Robinson knows every single animal that ever existed. Here's a sampling of the wildlife found on the island: flamingos, penguins, buffaloes, capybaras, condors, bears, tigers, lions, eagles, 30-foot-long boa constrictors, ostriches (which they TAME and RIDE) and oh so much more.

The family is very trigger-happy, though. At one point, they kill 40 apes. Wow. Comparing their attitudes toward wildlife to ours is a study in itself. At least the family generally eats every creature they kill. (At one point they eat a whale's tongue and bear paws! Disgusting.)

Read this book in good fun. It will make you laugh--but that probably wasn't the author's intentions. Oh well...

Rating: 8/10 (for sheer entertainment!)

1 comment:

bookdaze said...

LOL. I remember reading it as a kid, and not thinking it was a fantastical story at all ;-)

Looking back at it now, yeah, you do have to suspend your disbelief...

Li