The Swiss Family Robinson

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A 1812 novel by Johann David Wyss (and edited by his son Johann Rudolf Wyss) about a Swiss family (two parents, four sons - ages 15, 13, 10, and 7) shipwrecked en route to Australia and stranded on an island. Fortunately, their ship carried supplies for a new colony, and the island is furnished with an astounding diversity of flora and fauna. Hurrah!

For the father, this is an excellent opportunity to teach his children about nature, technology, resourcefulness, and morality.

Less of an actual story, and more of a list of useful facts to know when you're stranded on a deserted island.

Note: Robinson is not a Swiss name. The German name translates as the Swiss Robinson, and implies a Swiss version of Robinson Crusoe, rather than a Swiss family named Robinson.


Tropes used in The Swiss Family Robinson include:
  • Author Appeal: The author was a pastor; the unnamed father of the family (narrator) is very big on prayer, resting on the Sabbath, and such.
  • Author Tract: Tropes Are Not Bad version: It's basically a "how to survive in the wilderness if you are ever stuck on a deserted island for dummies" disguised as a story.
  • Deserted Island: The point of the exercise.
  • Film of the Book: Disney's Swiss Family Robinson, a well-received 1960 film.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Aside of some minor discomfort here and there, at no point is the family ever truly presented to be in any danger of not surviving. Unsure of local flora or fauna; it's cool, our not sunk or water damaged ship is fully stocked with everything you need! Iconic treehouse destroyed in a hurricane you were never in danger of; find an even cooler cave with multiple side rooms! Not to say that the farming itself isn't work, but there's no sense that the family won't make it any any time.
  • Misplaced Vegetation: The island is home to plants from many different areas of the world.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: The island is home to animals from many different areas of the world.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: The father is basically a walking encyclopedia expositia on every craft that might be useful to survival.
  • Robinsonade: One of the first; the family's name is an explicit Shout-Out to Crusoe.
  • Science Marches On: The above-mentioned wildlife is thought to have come to the island by way of now-sunken land bridges. At the time of the novel's writing, continental drift wasn't even fringe science.
  • Shout-Out: The title is an allusion to Robinson Crusoe, who is also named explicitly by the characters.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver