Monday, July 08, 2013

Victorian Adventure

by Robert Louis Stevenson

“There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people.”  ― Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped

In 1886, Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped began serialization in Young Folks magazine. It was this book, along with the earlier Treasure Island (1883) and A Child's Garden of Verses (1885) which first drew me to Stevenson more than fifty years ago. Along with a handful of other authors these books became the foundation of my early reading and love of books. I still have that feeling for Stevenson as I have gradually explored some of his other novels and essays. While he is considered one of England's most popular writers of "Children's Literature", these novels and his others, especially The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, are worth exploring and enjoying as an adult. Jekyll and Hyde in particular, provoked by a dream and written in a ten-week burst during the writing of Kidnapped, is one of the outstanding examples of the use of the theme of 'the double' in literature, and a classic late Victorian text.
In Kidnapped Davy Balfour is the central character and narrator of the adventure, which was based around historical events in eighteenth-century Scotland. It tells the story of Balfour's kidnapping, his shipwreck on a desert island and subsequent adventures with Highland Jacobites.
Though Stevenson wrote prolifically and in almost every genre, these four books from the mid-1880s are all he would need to be remembered more than a century later. This reader continues to look back a the beginning of his reading as a boy and remember when he first encountered the adventures depicted in Kidnapped and Treasure Island.

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