The Blue Lagoon (novel)
|Author||Henry De Vere Stacpoole|
|Series||Blue Lagoon trilogy|
|Publisher||T. Fisher Unwin|
|Media type||Print (hardcover)|
|Followed by||The Garden of God|
The Blue Lagoon  is a romance novel by Henry De Vere Stacpoole, first published in 1908. The novel is the first of the Blue Lagoon trilogy, the second being The Garden of God (1923) and the third being The Gates of Morning (1925). It has inspired several film adaptations, most notably The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields as Emmaline and Christopher Atkins as Richard (Dick in the book).
The novel is about two young children and a galley cook who survive a shipwreck in the South Pacific. They become separated from another lifeboat, which the boys father is on, and drift out to sea. After days afloat, they become marooned on a lush tropical island. The cook Paddy Button, assumes the responsibility of caring for the children: teaching them how to behave, how to forage for food, etc. He also warns them not to eat arita, which he calls "the never-wake-up berries."
An unspecified amount of time passes, and Paddy dies in a drunken binge. Together, cousins Richard and Emmeline Lestrange survive on their resourcefulness and the bounty of their remote paradise. Years pass, and Richard and Emmeline grow into tall, young adults. They live in a self-constructed hut and spend their days fishing, swimming, diving for pearls, and exploring the island.
Richard and Emmeline begin to fall in love, although they do not realize it because of their ignorance of human sexuality. They are physically attracted to each other but don't realize it or know how to express it. Ultimately, after making up after a fight, they consummate their relationship. Stacpoole describes their sexual encounter as having "been conducted just as the birds conduct their love affairs." An affair absolutely natural, absolutely blameless, and without sin. It was a marriage according to Nature, without feast or guests."
From then on, Richard is very attentive to Emmeline, listening to her stories and bringing her gifts. They make love quite often for several months, and eventually Emmeline gets pregnant. Richard and Emmeline have no knowledge of childbirth and don't understand the physical changes to Emmeline's body. One day, Emmeline disappears. Richard searches for her all day but cannot find her; he returns to their house and eventually she comes walking out of the forest, carrying a baby. Knowing nothing about babies, they learn by trial and error that the child will not drink fruit juice but will nurse from Emmeline's breast. Because the only baby they have ever known was called Hannah, they give their little boy this name.
The castaways spend all their time with Hannah, teaching him how to swim, fish, throw a spear, and play in the mud. They survive a violent tropical cyclone and other hazards of South Sea Island life.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, Richard's father Arthur (Emmeline's uncle) believes the pair are alive and that he will find them. The strongest lead is a child's toy tea set, picked up on an island that the sailors call Palm Tree. Ships stop there for fresh water, and someone on a whaler had picked up the box out of curiosity. Arthur recognizes it as an old plaything of Emmeline's and finds a ship whose captain is willing to take him to Palm Tree.
One day, the young parents and Hannah return in their lifeboat to the side of the island where they had lived with Paddy. Emmeline has broken off a branch of the deadly "never-wake-up" berries that Paddy warned her about. While Richard cuts bananas, absent-minded Emmeline fails to notice that her son has tossed one of the oars out of the boat. The tide comes in and sweeps the boat into the lagoon, with her and Hannah in it. Richard comes swimming after but is followed by a shark and is only saved when Emmeline throws the other oar, striking the shark and allowing Richard enough time to climb in.
Although not far from shore, they cannot get back or jump into the water to retrieve the oars for fear of a shark attack. The boat is caught in the current and drifts out to sea. Clasped in Emmeline's hand is the branch of arita.
Somewhat later, Arthur Lestrange's ship comes upon the pair with Hannah in their boat, lying unconscious but breathing. The arita branch is now bare, save for one berry. Lestrange asks, "Are they dead?" and the captain answers, "No, sir. They are asleep." The ambiguous ending leaves it uncertain as to whether they can be revived.
- Emmeline Lestrange - an orphan, the heroine
- Richard Lestrange - her cousin, the hero
- Paddy Button - A ship's galley cook
- Arthur Lestrange - Richard's father and Emmeline's uncle
- Hannah Lestrange - Richard and Emmeline's son.
Several films have been based on this novel:
- The Blue Lagoon (1923), a silent film directed by W. Bowden and Dick Cruickshanks, starring Molly Adair and Dick Cruickshanks
- The Blue Lagoon (1949), directed by Frank Launder, starring Jean Simmons and Donald Houston
- The Blue Lagoon (1980), directed by Randal Kleiser, starring Brooke Shields and Christopher Atkins
- Pengantin Pantai Biru (The Bridegroom of Blue Beach; 1983)
- Blue Lagoon: The Awakening a 2012 film.
- The Blue Lagoon Online Full text of the original novel.
- The Blue Lagoon at Project Gutenberg
- Primordial, and Three Laws & the Golden Rule by Morgan Robertson. These 1898 stories, which first appeared in Harper's monthly, are considered by some fans and scholars to be precursors to The Blue Lagoon. Some editions of The Blue Lagoon include Primordial in the appendix, the editors believing that Stacpoole may have been inspired by it.
- Fans of Edgar Rice Burroughs also acknowledge Robertson's contribution to Stacpoole's work as they study how both stories influenced Burroughs in the creation of Tarzan of the Apes. The Ape-Man, His Kith and Kin by Georges Doddes, published in Erbzine, is a collection of stories and references to stories about shipwrecked, feral children predating the Tarzan novels. The Blue Lagoon and Primordial/ Three Laws & the Golden Rule are reprinted in their entirety.
- Free audio recording of The Blue Lagoon from Librivox.org.