Robert Louis Stevenson (Literary Lives) by William Gray

By William Gray

Greater than such a lot writers, Robert Louis Stevenson calls for a Literary lifestyles. As Henry James commented on interpreting Balfour's existence: 'Louis...has outdated, in my view, his books, and this final alternative of himself...has killed the literary baggage.' critical severe recognition to Stevenson's literary works has been fairly gradual to seem, even though the 'Life of Stevenson' keeps to flourish, having develop into nearly a minor style in its personal correct. The model of Stevenson's literary existence offered the following embraces Stevenson's personal reservations concerning the function of linear chronology in biography, and is extra of a literary geography than a literary background. Its constitution is outlined by way of a few of the geographical and cultural contexts (Scotland, France, England, the USA and the South Seas) during which Stevenson lived and labored. this can be the 1st literary biography of Stevenson because the booklet of his accumulated Letters, and uses formerly unpublished letters.

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Robert Louis Stevenson (Literary Lives)

Greater than such a lot writers, Robert Louis Stevenson calls for a Literary existence. As Henry James commented on analyzing Balfour's lifestyles: 'Louis. .. has outdated, for my part, his books, and this final alternative of himself. .. has killed the literary luggage. ' critical severe consciousness to Stevenson's literary works has been really gradual to seem, although the 'Life of Stevenson' maintains to flourish, having develop into virtually a minor style in its personal correct.

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James’s essay has been deemed a significant document in the history of literary theory, not least by linking Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria and the American New Critics in its emphasis on the novel as ‘a living thing, all one and continuous, like every other organism’. 30 Stevenson’s essay, by contrast, only figures in a footnote to The Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism, though the fact that, as a result of Stevenson’s intervention, James changed his original contention that the novel ‘does compete with life’ to the substantially lesser claim that it ‘does attempt to represent life’,31 might seem to warrant further attention to ‘A Humble Remonstrance’, as Stevenson entitled his reply to James in the December edition of Longman’s.

Instead, Stevenson proposed to specify the topic more precisely. What Besant and James were really attempting to discuss, according to Stevenson, was ‘the art of narrative’, and even more precisely, ‘the art of fictitious narrative in prose’ (ibid). The latter qualification is added because certain works in verse from The Odyssey to Paradise Lost are clearly narrative; the former qualification is made because of Stevenson’s awareness of an issue that was to be raised a century later by the likes of Hayden White: 32 20 Robert Louis Stevenson: A Literary Life The art of narrative, in fact, is the same, whether it is applied to the selection and illustration of a real series of events or of an imaginary series.

The article he made out of it was ‘Forest Notes’, written up during the summer of 1875. It included material about Louis’s first trip to Grez during a second visit he made to the Fontainebleau forest in August of that year, and was published in the Cornhill in May 1876. ‘Forest Notes’ opens with a description of the Gâtinais plain, which borders the Fontainebleau forest: The sun goes down, a swollen orange, as it were into the sea. A blue-clad peasant rides home, with a harrow smoking behind him in the dry clods.

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