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 written by Henry De Vere Stacpoole that was first published by T. Fisher Unwin in 1908. It is the first novel of the Blue Lagoon trilogy, which also includes The Garden of God (1923) and The Gates of Morning (1925). The novel has inspired several film adaptations, most notably The Blue Lagoon starring Brooke Shields as Emmeline and Christopher Atkins as Richard (known as "Dicky" in the book).
The story focuses on two children and a galley cook who are marooned on an island in the South Pacific after a shipwreck. The galley cook, Paddy Button, assumes responsibility for the children and teaches them how to behave, how to forage for food, and other things. He also warns the children not to eat the "arita" berries, which he calls "the never-wake-up berries."
Two and a half years after they are marooned, Paddy dies during a drunken binge. The children, cousins Dicky and Emmeline Lestrange, survive on their resourcefulness and the bounty of their remote paradise. Years pass, and Dicky and Emmeline grow into physically mature young adults. They live in a hut they built together and spend their days fishing, swimming, diving for pearls, and exploring the island.
Dicky and Emmeline begin to fall in love, but because of their ignorance of human sexuality, they do not realize it. While they are physically attracted to each other, they do not understand or know how to express it. Ultimately, they make up after a fight and consummate their relationship. The author, Henry De Vere 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."
Afterward, Dicky becomes very attentive to Emmeline, listening to her stories and bringing her gifts. Over several months, they make love quite often and eventually Emmeline becomes pregnant, but Dicky and Emmeline don't understand the physical changes happening to Emmeline's body and have no knowledge of childbirth. One day, Emmeline disappears. Dicky searches for her all day but cannot find her. He returns to their house and eventually sees her 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. They give their little boy the name Hannah because both Emmeline and Dicky have only ever known a baby called by the same name.
Dicky and Emmeline then 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, Dicky's father, Arthur (Emmeline's uncle), believes that Dicky and Emmeline are alive and is determined to 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 on the island for freshwater and someone on a whaler had picked up the box out of curiosity. Arthur recognizes the tea set as an old toy of Emmeline's and finds a ship whose captain is willing to take him to Palm Tree.
One day, the young parents and Hannah row their lifeboat to the side of the island where Dicky and Emmeline had lived with Paddy. Emmeline breaks off a branch of the deadly "never-wake-up" berries that Paddy warned her about, and Dicky cuts bananas on the shore. While in the boat with her son, absent-minded Emmeline fails to notice that Hannah has tossed one of the oars out of the boat. The tide comes in and sweeps the boat into the lagoon, leaving Emmeline and Hannah stranded. Dicky swims to them but is followed by a shark. He is saved when Emmeline throws the other oar, striking the shark and allowing Dicky enough time to climb in.
Although not far from shore, they cannot get back without the oars, and they fear jumping into the water to retrieve them because of the shark. The boat is then caught in the current and drifts out to sea. Still clasped in Emmeline's hand is the branch of arita.
Arthur Lestrange's ship then comes upon the lifeboat and finds Dicky, Emmeline, and Hannah unconscious but still breathing. The arita branch is now bare, except 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 or not the three can be revived.
- Emmeline Lestrange - a shipwrecked orphan, the heroine
- Dicky Lestrange - Emmeline's cousin, the hero
- Paddy Button - the galley cook of the wrecked ship
- Arthur Lestrange - Dicky's father and Emmeline's uncle
- Hannah Lestrange - Dicky 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.