Click here to Download Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book by Walter Raleigh Language English having PDF Size 1 MB and No of Pages 26.
When a popular writer dies, the question it has become the fashion with a nervous generation to ask is the question, ‘Will he live?’ There was no idler question, none more hopelessly impossible and unprofitable to answer. It is one of the many vanities of criticism to promise immortality to the authors that it praises, to patronise a writer with the assurance that our great-grandchildren.
Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book by Walter Raleigh
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Whose time and tastes are thus frivolously mortgaged, will read his works with delight. But ‘there is no antidote against the opium of time, which temporally considereth all things: our fathers find their graves in our short memories, and sadly tell us how we may be buried in our survivors.’ Let us make sure that our sons will care for Homer before we pledge a more distant generation to a newer cult.
Nevertheless, without handling the prickly question of literary immortality, it is easy to recognise that the literary reputation of Robert Louis Stevenson is made of good stuff. His fame has spread, as lasting fame is wont to do, from the few to the many. Fifteen years ago his essays and fanciful books of travel were treasured by a small and discerning company of admirers.
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Long before he chanced to fell the British public with Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde he had shown himself a delicate marksman. And although large editions are nothing, standard editions, richly furnished and complete, are worthy of remark. Stevenson is one of the very few authors in our literary history who have been honoured during their lifetime by the appearance of such an edition.
The best of his public, it would seem, do not only wish to read his works, but to possess them, and all of them, at the cost of many pounds, in library form. It would be easy to mention more voluminous and more popular authors than Stevenson whose publishers could not find five subscribers for an adventure like this.
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He has made a brave beginning in that race against Time which all must lose. It is not in the least necessary, after all, to fortify ourselves with the presumed consent of our poor descendants, who may have a world of other business to attend to, in order to establish Stevenson in the position of a great writer.
Let us leave that foolish trick to the politicians, who never claim that they are right—merely that they will win at the next elections. Literary criticism has standards other than the suffrage; it is possible enough to say something of the literary quality of a work that appeared yesterday. Stevenson himself was singularly free from the vanity of fame.
‘The best artist,’ he says truly, ‘is not the man who fixes his eye on posterity, but the one who loves the practice of his art.’ He loved, if ever man did, the practice of his art; and those who find meat and drink in the delight of watching and appreciating the skilful practice of the literary art. Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book
Will abandon themselves to the enjoyment of his masterstrokes without teasing their unborn and possibly illiterate posterity to answer solemn questions. Will a book live? Will a cricket match live? Perhaps not, and yet both be fine achievements. It is not easy to estimate the loss to letters by his early death.
In the dedication of Prince Otto he says, ‘Well, we will not give in that we are finally beaten. . . . I still mean to get my health again; I still purpose, by hook or crook, this book or the next, to launch a masterpiece.’ It would be a churlish or a very dainty critic who should deny that he has launched masterpieces, but whether he ever launched his masterpiece is an open question.
Of the story that he was writing just before his death he is reported to have said that ‘the goodness of it frightened him.’ A goodness that frightened him will surely not be visible, like Banquo’s ghost, to only one pair of eyes. His greatest was perhaps yet to come. Had Dryden died at his age, we should have had none of the great satires; had Scott died at his age, we should have had no Waverley Novels. Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book
The artist in words, on the other hand, although he is a lover of fine phrases, in his word-weaving experiments uses no shoddy, but cultivates his senses of touch and sight until he can combine the raw fibres in novel and bewitching patterns. To this end he must have two things: a fine sense, in the first place, of the sound, value.
Meaning, and associations of individual words, and next, a sense of harmony, proportion, and effect in their combination. It is amazing what nobility a mere truism is often found to possess when it is clad with a garment thus woven. Stevenson had both these sensitive capabilities in a very high decree.
His careful choice of epithet and name have even been criticised as lending to some of his narrative-writing an excessive air of deliberation. His daintiness of diction is best seen in his earlier work; thereafter his writing became more vigorous and direct, fitter for its later uses, but never unillumined by felicities that cause a thrill of pleasure to the reader. Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book
Of the value of words he had the acutest appreciation. Virginibus Puerisque, his first book of essays, is crowded with happy hits and subtle implications conveyed in a single word. ‘We have all heard,’ he says in one of these, ‘of cities in South America built upon the side of fiery mountains, and how, even in this tremendous neighbourhood.
The inhabitants are not a jot more impressed by the solemnity of mortal conditions than if they were delving gardens in the greenest corner of England.’ You can feel the ground shake and see the volcano tower above you at that word ‘tremendous neighbourhood.’ Something of the same double reference to the original and acquired meanings of a word is to be found in such a phrase as ‘sedate electrician.’
For one who in a back office wields all the lights of a city; or in that description of one drawing near to death, who is spoken of as groping already with his hands ‘on the face of the impassable.’ The likeness of this last word to a very different word, ‘impassive,’ is made to do good literary service in suggesting the sphinx-like image of death. Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book Download
Sometimes, as here, this subtle sense of double meanings almost leads to punning. In Across the Plains Stevenson narrates how a bet was transacted at a railway-station, and subsequently, he supposes, ‘liquidated at the bar.’ This is perhaps an instance of the excess of a virtue, but it is an excess to be found plentifully in the works of Milton.
His loving regard for words bears good fruit in his later and more stirring works. He has a quick ear and appreciation for live phrases on the lips of tramps, beachcombers, or Americans. These are all excellent instances of the sort of idea that gives life to a romance—of acts or attitudes that stamp themselves upon the mind’s eye.
Some of them appeal chiefly to the mind’s eye, others are of value chiefly as symbols. But, for the most part, the romantic kernel of a story is neither pure picture nor pure allegory, it can neither be painted nor moralised. It makes its most irresistible appeal neither to the eye that searches for form and colour, nor to the reason that seeks for abstract truth, but to the blood. Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book Download
To all that dim instinct of danger, mystery, and sympathy in things that is man’s oldest inheritance—to the superstitions of the heart. Romance vindicates the supernatural against science and rescues it from the palsied tutelage of morality. Stevenson’s work is a gallery of romantic effects that haunt the memory.
Some of these are directly pictorial: the fight in the round-house on board the brig Covenant; the duel between the two brothers of Ballantrae in the island of light thrown up by the candles from that abyss of windless night; the flight of the Princess Seraphina through the dark mazes of the wood,—all these, although they carry with them subtleties beyond the painter’s art.
Yet have something of picture in them. But others make entrance to the corridors of the mind by blind and secret ways, and there awaken the echoes of primæval fear. The cry of the parrot—‘Pieces of eight’—the tapping of the stick of the blind pirate Pew as he draws near the innparlour, and the similar effects of inexplicable terror wrought by the introduction of the blind catechist in Kidnapped. Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book Free
And of the disguise of a blind leper in The Black Arrow, are beyond the reach of any but the literary form of romantic art. The last appearance of Pew, in the play of Admiral Guinea, written in collaboration with Mr. W. E. Henley, is perhaps the masterpiece of all the scenes of terror. The blind ruffian’s scream of panic fear.
When he puts his groping hand into the burning flame of the candle in the room where he believed that he was unseen, and so realises that his every movement is being silently watched, is indeed ‘the horrors come alive.’ The animating principle or idea of Stevenson’s longer stories is never to be found in their plot.
Which is generally built carelessly and disjointedly enough around the central romantic situation or conception. The main situation in The Wrecker is a splendid product of romantic aspiration, but the structure of the story is incoherent and ineffective, so that some of the best passages in the book—the scenes in Paris, for instance—have no business there at all. Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book Free
The story in Kidnapped and Catriona wanders on in a single thread, like the pageant of a dream, and the reader feels and sympathises with the author’s obvious difficulty in leading it back to the scene of the trial and execution of James Stewart. The Master of Ballantrae is stamped with a magnificent unity of conception, but the story illuminates that conception by a series of scattered episodes.
John Silver, that memorable pirate, with a face like a ham and an eye like a fragment of glass stuck into it, leads a career of wholehearted crime that can only be described as sparkling. His unalloyed maleficence is adorned with a thousand graces of manner. Into the dark and fetid marsh that is an evil heart, where low forms of sentiency are hardly distinguishable from the all-pervading mud.
Stevenson never peered, unless it were in the study of Huish in The Ebb Tide. Of his women, let women speak. They are traditionally accredited with an intuition of one another’s hearts, although why, if woman was created for man, as the Scriptures assure us, the impression that she makes on him should not count for as much as the impression she makes on some other woman. Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book Free
Is a question that cries for solution. Perhaps the answer is that disinterested curiosity, which is one means of approach to the knowledge of character, although only one, is a rare attitude for man to assume towards the other sex. Stevenson’s curiosity was late in awaking; the heroine of The Black Arrow is dressed in boy’s clothes throughout the course of the story.
And the novelist thus saved the trouble of describing the demeanour of a girl. Mrs. Henry, in The Master of Ballantrae, is a charming veiled figure, drawn in the shadow; Miss Barbara Grant and Catriona in the continuation of Kidnapped are real enough to have made many suitors for their respective hands among male readers of the book;—but that is nothing, reply the critics of the other party.
A walking doll will find suitors. The question must stand over until some definite principles of criticism have been discovered to guide us among these perilous passes. One character must never be passed over in an estimate of Stevenson’s work. The hero of his longest work is not David Balfour, in whom the pawky Lowland lad, proud and precise, but ‘a very pretty gentleman.’ Robert Louis Stevenson PDF Book Free
Is transfigured at times by traits that he catches, as narrator of the story, from its author himself. But Alan Breek Stewart is a greater creation, and a fine instance of that wider morality that can seize by sympathy the soul of a wild Highland clansman. ‘Impetuous, insolent, unquenchable.’
A condoner of murder for ‘them that havenae dipped their hands in any little difficulty should be very mindful of the case of them that have’), a confirmed gambler, as quarrel-some as a turkey-cock, and as vain and sensitive as a child, Alan Breek is one of the most lovable characters in all literature; and his penetration—a great part of which he learned, to take his own account of it.
By driving cattle ‘through a throng lowland country with the black soldiers at his tail’—blossoms into the most delightful reflections upon men and things.