Download Robert Louis Stevenson (Literary Lives) by William Gray PDF

By William Gray

Greater than so much writers, Robert Louis Stevenson calls for a Literary lifestyles. As Henry James commented on studying Balfour's existence: 'Louis...has outdated, for my part, his books, and this final alternative of himself...has killed the literary baggage.' severe severe realization to Stevenson's literary works has been rather sluggish to seem, although the 'Life of Stevenson' keeps to flourish, having develop into nearly a minor style in its personal correct. The model of Stevenson's literary lifestyles provided right here embraces Stevenson's personal reservations in regards to the position of linear chronology in biography, and is extra of a literary geography than a literary heritage. Its constitution is outlined via a few of the geographical and cultural contexts (Scotland, France, England, the United States and the South Seas) during which Stevenson lived and labored. this is often the 1st literary biography of Stevenson because the ebook of his amassed Letters, and uses formerly unpublished letters.

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Example text

A particular chair that had belonged to Louis’s grandfather became ‘Henry James’s chair’; it figures in the famous portrait of the Stevensons by John Singer Sargent, with Fanny seated on it in an Indian dress. In October 1885 Stevenson pleaded with James to return and occupy ‘his’ chair, which stood ‘gaping’: ‘Now, my dear James, come – come – come’ (L5 144). There is no record that James returned to Skerryvore, though in February 1886 he sent the Stevensons a mirror, ‘a magic mirror,’ wrote Fanny in her letter of thanks, ‘which seems to reflect not only our own plain faces, but the kindly one of a friend entwined in the midst of all sorts of pleasant memories’ (L5 210).

However, around 10 March 1875 Louis wrote asking Bob to rig up a mattress in his studio in the Boulevard Mont Parnasse (L2 124); on 29 March he wrote to his mother from the Café du Sénat, Près du Luxembourg, announcing his departure for Barbizon (L2 126). Louis’s arrival in Paris is described by Will Low in A Chronicle of Friendships, which recounts how he and Bob met Louis off the Calais train at the Gare St Lazare. After the inevitable flânerie through the streets of Paris, they took a cab from the Pont des Arts to Lavenue’s restaurant in Montparnasse.

However, the letter that mattered most to Stevenson was from the master himself. Meredith’s letter to Stevenson about Prince Otto has disappeared, but Stevenson told Henley about it in tones which would not be out of place in James’s ‘The Figure in the Carpet’: ‘I had a letter yesterday from George Meredith, which was one of the events of my life. He cottoned (for one thing), though with differences, to Otto; cottoned more than my rosiest visions had inspired me to hope; said things that (from him) I would blush to quote’ (B 228; L5 154).

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