Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Epigraph

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pp. i-viii

Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894) was one of the most popular and prolific writers of the late nineteenth century, an era of mass readership and literary celebrity. Stevenson was and was not a part of that world. He...

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RLS

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pp. 1-17

In the 1960s, old gas lamps from the streets of Edinburgh, Scotland, were removed and sold, mainly to scrap collectors and antique dealers from the United States, in preparation for the city’s conversion to electric street lighting. More than 85,000 lamps...

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Romance

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pp. 18-29

Like a lot of people, when he felt restless or sulky or especially when he was too sick or run down to work, Stevenson looked for something to read that would both relax and stimulate him. “When I suffer in mind...

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Simplicity

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pp. 30-39

A brother is slain in a duel in the pitch of night, the scene lit only by tall candles set upon the frozen ground. “I have left him lying beside the candles,” says the servant Mackellar before he runs from the house...

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Play

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pp. 40-49

It’s probably an exaggeration to say that Stevenson lived inside the literary culture of his time as a monk lives in his faith; he was too much of a free spirit for that comparison strictly to work. Yet many of his letters and essays about writing give the impression...

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Reading

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pp. 50-59

I would not blame Miss Plomer if she felt disappointed in this letter or if she thought Stevenson’s counsel a little terse. But his advice, at age forty-three, is consistent with his earliest efforts to be a writer when he was in his teens and early twenties...

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Truth

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pp. 60-69

The “happy star of this trade of writing is that it should combine pleasure and profit to both parties, and be at once agreeable, like fiddling, and useful, like good preaching.”1 The writer has a high calling. His work is not...

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Teaching

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pp. 70-79

"Burns would have been no Scotchman,” wrote one of the poet’s biographers, “if he had not loved to moralise.”1 Stevenson was delighted with this observation, for it excused his own penchant to step up to the pulpit. In his letters...

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Style

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pp. 80-90

Stevenson’s contemporaries in the literary world agreed that he had a striking literary style, but there wasn’t always consensus on how to characterize it. Reviewers looked up and down for apt comparisons, veering from “over smart, well-dressed...

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Dreams

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pp. 91-106

When Stevenson was a child, bedtime was the preserve of fantasies, picture-making, and stories—the curious music of the subconscious. Stevenson claimed that his mind was most active in the hours between being put to bed and falling...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 107-108

At the University of Iowa Press, Elisabeth Chretien and Catherine Cocks guided this book with never failing cheerfulness and professionalism. The Muse Books series is under the general editorship of distinguished biographer Robert Richardson. I feel privileged...

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A Note on Sources

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pp. 109-110

The New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson is in process under the general editorship of Stephen Arata, Richard Dury, Penny Fielding, and Anthony Mandal. This groundbreaking edition will finally offer scholars accurate versions...

Notes

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pp. 111-128

Bibliography

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pp. 129-134

Index

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pp. 135-137