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Swiss Family Robinson [Paperback]

By Johann David Wyss, J. Hillis Miller (Introduction by) & Elizabeth Janeway (Afterword)
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Item Number 424146  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   333
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 6.7" Width: 4.2" Height: 1"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2004
Publisher   Penguin Group USA
Age  9-12
ISBN  0451529618  
EAN  9780451529619  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
This tale of survival follows the adventures of a Swiss pastor, his wife, and their four sons who are shipwrecked on a tropical island.

Publishers Description

Swept off course by a raging storm, a Swiss pastor, his wife, and their four young sons are shipwrecked on an uncharted tropical island. Thus begins the classic story of survival and adventure that has fired the imaginations of readers since it first appeared in 1812. With optimism and boundless enthusiasm, the Robinson family undertakes the extraordinary task of constructing a home for themselves and exploring the primitive island filled with strange and beautiful creatures and exotic fruits and plants. Rich in action and suspense, this exhilarating novel takes us to a faraway place of danger and beauty, where the courageous Robinson family embarks on a thrilling new life of adventure and discovery.

Buy Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss, J. Hillis Miller & Elizabeth Janeway from our Christian Books store - isbn: 9780451529619 & 0451529618

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More About Johann David Wyss, J. Hillis Miller & Elizabeth Janeway

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Johann Wyss (1743-1818) was, like the narrator of The Swiss Family Robinson, a Swiss pastor who had four sons. He devised the idea of the island and its plethora of natural resources as a way to entertain and instruct his children. One of his sons, Johann Rudolf (1782-1830), was an accomplished writer and poet, educator and editor who devoted himself to collecting and publishing the folklore of his homeland, and who in 1811 composed the Swiss national anthem, "Call'st Thou, My Fatherland?," to the tune of "God Save the King." Johann Rudolf is best known for having completed and seen to publication of his father's novel, originally titled Der Schweizerische Robinson (Zurich, 1812) and translated into English two years after its first publication. The novel was an immediate popular success, and since then its translators have been many, and they have freely adapted and expanded the original German text, making it one of the most popular novels of all time. This edition reproduces the original English translation from 1816 by the great political philosopher William Godwin and his wife Mary.
John Seelye (editor, 1931-2015) taught at the University of Florida and wrote numerous books, among them The True Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain at the Movies, Prophetic Waters: The River in Early American Literature, Beautiful Machine: Rivers and the Early Republic, Memory's Nation: The Place of Plymouth Rock, and War Games: Richard Harding Davis and the New Imperialism. For thirty years he was the consulting editor for Penguin Classics in American literature.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Childhood Favorite  Mar 27, 2010
Swiss Family Robinson was my favorite book for years growing up as a child. On the surface, it is a grand tale of survival and adventure in a distant and formidable land. A man, his wife, and their four children are shipwrecked on a distant and mysterious island, and must draw upon their own labors, knowledge, and at times good fortune to survive.

Some will surely criticize certain aspects of the plot or the setting when critiquing the book. The island, apparently somewhere in the vicinity of New Guinea is inhabited by creatures from every corner of the Earth. The father and children show a very quick tendency to shoot new critters first and ask questions later. The mother is rarely given the honor of her own name but toils along in anonymity while others experience the thrills of discovery.

However, whenever I read the book, I looked upon it as a grand tale showing the endless possibilities of adventure and magical places that together all make up the world. The tendency to shoot was in many regards an aspect of the time in which the story was written. Flowing through the pages is a strong sense of the wonder and the magnificence of the natural world, and a deep underlying respect for its creatures. Finally, the mother is always portrayed with kindness and respect, and although she rarely is a part of the most dramatic adventures, is treated with near reverence by the father. She is a kind and noble woman who enables her family to prosper through many difficult times.

In many ways this is a book about the inner goodness of human beings and their ability to rise and face daunting challenges, and for this reason has remained a classic tale for some 200 years.
Swiss Family Robinson a product of 1812  Mar 26, 2010
When you read Swiss Family Robinson, you will constantly have to bear in mind that it was written in 1812. In German. The rambling speeches and odd syntax are sometimes hard to follow. (So was Robinson Crusoe.)

There is a heavy emphasis on firearms -- cannons, pistols, "fowling pieces." The combination of animals (penguins with flamingoes, bears with lions, boa constrictors with porcupines) strains credulity. But who knew in 1812? It was a time of exploration and fantastic tales. The author not only injects a lot of thanks to a Christian God for his family's survival, he also sees fit to put down Italians, Malays and "hottentots". In 1812, who would notice? It's also rather disturbing that every time the family come across a new and interesting animal, THEY KILL IT!!

The worst aspect of the book is the dismissal of Elizabeth, the mother of the clan. Most of the time she is not even referred to by name -- just "his mother", "my wife" or "my companion." Over the space of ten years it appears she cooked all the food, tended the garden, cared for the children as they grew, made all their clothes from cloth she carded and loomed herself (supposedly a source of "delight") and who knows how many other "feminine" chores. Yet in the last chapters the rescuers marvel that so much could be accomplished by "one man and four children" -- as if she didn't exist!

There is not mention of any arts -- except singing a few hymns. There is also no mention of any illnesses or injuries among six people in ten years, other than a few bee stings. There is also not a word about sanitation -- a delicate subject in 1812.

You will have to put aside your analyzing rational brain to enjoy this yarn. Taken on that level, it's fun and creative. Never mind that cacao doesn't grow on shrubs.
A classic  Nov 29, 2009
Having read this book years ago, I found it in my Sister's wishlist. So I didn't hesitate to order it for her. This books is a true classic, and still holds up well at almost 200 years old.
Reads almost like a naturalist's encyclopedia...  Nov 6, 2009
A Swiss family sets out with others to found a new colony, and instead is shipwrecked on an uninhabited island, the sole survivors. This book chronicles the adventures on the island of the parents and their four boys.

Each chapter provides the opportunity for them to discover some novel animal, or some amazingly versatile plant, or make some new invention. Now, it's true these animals and plants all exist, but not all on the same island. It goes well beyond the bounds of credulity. Each discovery also results in the reciting of a veritable encylopedia entry of information. I end up skimming, as it gets tiring to me, especially without a picture to see what they're talking about. Now, note that my 8 yo son (6th grade reading level) would disagree as he *loves* this book.

There are references to God's providence, and prayer, and moral virtues, which is a plus to me. At the end, there are too many amazing coincidences to bring the story to a nice pretty conclusion.

As the book nears its end, the author skips ahead in the future, skipping over many occurrences:

"Having given a detailed account of several years' residence in New Switzerland, as we liked to call our dominion, it is needless for me to continue what would exhaust the patience of the most long-suffering, by repeating monotonous narratives of exploring parties and hunting expeditions, wearisome descriptions of awkward inventions and clumsy machines, with an endless record of discoveries, more fit for the pages of an encylcopedia than a book of family history."

Um, it's way too late to avoid that, at least in my book; my patience was exhausted a long time ago. I have no need to read this book again, and this from someone who has repeatedly read Animal Farm by George Orwell, The Scarlet Pimpernel, Jane Austen books, and other classics. But, obviously it appeals to some, and hey, my son is learning good things as he reads it for the 4th time, even if I don't understand the appeal.
in-your-face didactic literature  Aug 3, 2009
It seemed like everybody but me was familiar with the story of the Swiss Family Robinson, so I finally decided to sit down and read the original (written by Johann Wyss in the early 1800's).

The thing that surprised me is that the book is unapologetic, didactic literature. Kind of like Robinson Crusoe, but with a heavy-handed attempt to inculcate self-reliance and Christian values.

Here's a sample of what you're in store for. The book is narrated by the father, who at one point believes that a tiger is about to eat one of his sons: ". . . I was well satisfied with the courage of Fritz, who, instead of running away, stood firm to face the danger; the only motion he made being that of seeing that this piece was fit to be discharged, and turning himself to front the spot whence the noise proceeded. . . . I received the poor fellow with lively joy, and did not fail to commend both the bravery and discretion of my son, in not yielding to even a rational alarm."

And then you have the many, many references to Providence and God's wisdom. Another sample:

"Since it please God that it should be so," said my wife, "let us endeavor to be content, and let us be grateful to Him for having saved us from their unhappy fate, and for having once more brought us all together."

The adventures are passable, but they take a back seat to praising various virtues, such as Patience and Thrift. Though the book is still readable, if I had read this as a kid I would probably have been disgusted with it, since what adventures there are are plainly meretricious: the real point of the book is to preach to you.

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