Review: Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates.

“Who, within his inner conscience, does not feel the same ferine, savage man struggling against the stern, adamantine bonds of morality and decorum?”


Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates” compiled by Merle Johnson

Daring and adventurous stories of pirates have captivated audiences (“whether” the book flap suggests, “he be 12 years old or 70”) for centuries, as Howard Pyle’s Book of Pirates proves. Pyle lives in the latter half of the nineteenth century, a Quaker artist with a healthy love of swashbuckling tales, and Merle Johnson put together this book of his stories and sketches. One of the many delightfully old books I was given, I was pleased to find the content as delightful as the charming volume itself. Seven stories make this book, many of them very similar, and all of them calling up a time where pirates sailed the seven seas, striking fear and inspiration in the hearts of the Colonists and the world.

Not only do I love pirates, but I love old literature, too. Pyle certainly writes in that quaint, antiquated fashion of the late nineteenth century, shown best in his descriptions of outstanding young men, virtuous young women, and dastardly villains. Though there wasn’t a lot of variety between the tales, I found each one captivating and charming and even a little inspirational. It’s a wonderful slice of history as well as culture, and, though Pyle is rather proper about things, you can tell he’s sort of pushing the proper envelop a little bit with some of his pirates. It’s a great little book, with some really lovely writing, that comes highly recommended for any fan of the Victorian sensibility in writing or pirates in general…whether he be 12 years old or 70 or, in my case, 29.

Are you a fan of pirates? What’s your favorite pirate story?

Books read: 017/100.

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