Chapter 8 Pirates in British Literature

In: Postmodern Pirates
Susanne Zhanial
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Starting with an analysis of Romantic pirate stories, among them Lord Byron’s The Corsair and Walter’s Scott The Pirate, the chapter traces the transformation of the pirate from an outlaw rebel in adult literature into the cutthroat villain of juvenile fiction. The analysis of nineteenth-century pirate fiction includes, among other books, the two classics of British pirate fiction: Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and James Matthew Barrie’s Peter Pan. The representation of the pirate in early twentieth century children’s literature is illustrated by discussing Richard Hughes’ A High Wind in Jamaica and Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazon series. The chapter concentrates its analysis on the representation of the pirate captain and on the evaluation of piracy in general, but also shows how the genre – already long before Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean – has relied on intertextuality and on borrowing elements from earlier texts. At the end of the chapter, Jack Sparrow’s indebtedness to his Romantic predecessors and Long John Silver is investigated. Furthermore, the chapter tries to illuminate the origin and development of traits and features nowadays commonly associated with the pirate motif, like the parrot, pieces of eight, and treasure maps.

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