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Swiss Family Robinson As An Allegory of Heaven.

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10/10/2011 02:05 PM

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Swiss Family Robinson As An Allegory of Heaven.
Here's a review of Swiss Family Robinson I just wrote for Amazon.com

I began reading this timeless classic for the first time in my forty years last week. At first I was incredulous about the worldwide menagerie that was the island they were shipwrecked upon. Not counting the animals they brought with them from the grounded ship, we have an impossible group of animals: North American porcupines, African jackals and flamingos, Australian kangaroos, Antarctic penguins, South American anacondas... and the list goes on.

It's as though the author interviewed every sailor he could find and included their journey's animals into this single story. This disbelief was difficult for me to suspend, until I had this thought...

The Swiss Family Robinson DROWNED in the ship wreck on the way to Australia!

How else could their ease of transition from urbanites to jungle dwellers be explained? How could the good pastor Robinson know as much as he did about flora and fauna from around the world? How could this Garden of Eden provide them with all the raw materials they needed, all the way down to Indian rubber and Egyptian cotton? Why was there virtually no tension between the family members other than anxiety on the part of the mother as Robinson and his boys were pillaging the ship? Why did they choose to stay on the island? The simplest answer is also the most obscene. Because they were all dead and in their personal heaven!

Notice that while Pastor Robinson often prays to God, he never mentions Jesus Christ or any other form of organized religion. The book was written in the last days of the Age of Enlightenment, where the study of natural history was encouraged and deism, the study of religion as viewed by the natural world without the confines of religious dogma, was in full bloom. What we're reading about is the Robinson family in "deist heaven"... man at one with nature, with man as master of nature. Infinite game. Infinite resources. A perfect Utopia in which to live out eternity.

I've found that reading the book with this frame of mind helps to suspend my disbelief when I become overly critical of the author's literary excesses.
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