Friday, October 23, 2009

Books for Boys

Standing tall among the likes of Jules Verne, Joseph Conrad, James Fenimore Cooper, Jack London, Rudyard Kipling, Alexandre Dumas, Frederick Marryat, are distinctly Christian or Christian-influenced adventure writers, such as, to name a few:

  • Daniel Defoe -- Presbyterian dissenter who chronicled the history of the Scottish Presbyterian Church.
  • Johann David Wyss -- Rector of the Reformed Protestant Cathedral in Bern, Switzerland.
  • Robert Michael Ballantyne -- Ballantyne travelled to the places that he wrote about, and he stated, Personal Reminiscences in Book-Making: "...in all my writings I have always tried — how far successfully I know not — to advance the cause of Truth and Right and to induce my readers to put their trust in the love of God our Saviour, for this life as well as the life to come.” Elsewhere, he wrote: "In writing these volumes, the author has earnestly endeavoured to keep in view the glory of God and the good of man." See this website.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson -- Presbyterian, although he tended away from the beliefs of his church, wrote of Covenanters and Camisards, and coined the phrase "Ballantyne the Brave".
  • William Henry Giles Kingston -- Devout Christian, missionary supporter and translator of the works of Jules Verne from French into English.
  • George Alfred Henty -- Henty once said in an interview: "To be a true hero you must be a true Christian. To sum up, then, heroism is largely based upon two qualities-truthfulness and unselfishness, a readiness to put one’s own pleasure aside for that of others, helpful to your parents, even if that helpfulness demands some slight sacrifice of your own pleasure. You must remember that these two qualities are true signs of Christian heroism. If one is to be a true Christian, one must be a Christian hero. True heroism is inseparable from true Christianity, and as a step towards the former I would urge most strongly and urgently the practice of the latter."

A common theme running through many of these adventure stories is named after Daniel Defoe's greatest novel, Robinson Crusoe. Sometimes called the "Robinsonade," the story of castaways stranded on desert islands may be found not only in Jules Verne's The Mysterious Island, but in Wyss's The Swiss Family Robinson, Ballantyne's The Island Queen and The Lonely Island, Kingston's The Coral Island and Henty's For Name and Fame. Stevenson's Treasure Island does not involve castaways, but he spent time in the south Pacific later and is one of the great nineteenth century travel writers. Swiss Family Robinson and Robinson Crusoe both strongly reflect the Reformed world view of their authors. I am partial to these having had my own experience on a desert island (Gun Cay, Jamaica).

It is the historical novels focusing on religion that are of particular interest to this blogger, who is himself slowly writing a work of historical fiction. I will highlight a few which I think are worth having in the family library.

  • William H.G. Kingston, In the Wilds of Florida -- This story takes place in the 19th century but mentions the 16th century French Huguenot settlement in Florida.
  • G.A. Henty, St. Bartholomew's Eve -- A story about the 1572 St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre of French Huguenots.

2 comments:

  1. It's so important to draw attention to reading, and attract reluctant readers to it,especially boys. In fact, I've recently completed a feature magazine article on this subject that came out in October, "Help for Struggling, Reluctant Readers."

    I grew up as a reluctant reader, in spite of the fact that my father published over 70 books. Now I write action-adventures & mysteries, especially for tween boys, that avid boy readers and girls enjoy just as much.

    My blog, Books for Boys http://booksandboys.blogspot.com is dedicated to drawing attention to the importance of reading.

    Keep up your good work.

    Max Elliot Anderson

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  2. Thank you for your comments and encouragement, Max, and for sharing the link to your interesting blog. Blessings!

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