The Edinburgh Companion to Robert Louis Stevenson

The Edinburgh Companion to Robert Louis Stevenson

The Edinburgh Companion to Robert Louis Stevenson

The Edinburgh Companion to Robert Louis Stevenson

Synopsis

This wide-ranging collection is the first to set Robert Louis Stevenson in detailed social, political and literary contexts. The book takes account of both Stevenson's extraordinary thematic and generic diversity and his geographical range. The chapters explore his relation to late nineteenth-century publishing, psychology, travel, the colonial world, and the emergence of modernism in prose and poetry. Through the pivotal figure of Stevenson, the collection explores how literary publishing and cultural life changed across the second half of the nineteenth century. Stevenson emerges as a complex writer, author both of hugely popular boys' stories and of seminally important adult novels, as well as the literary figure who debated with Henry James the theory of fiction and the nature of realism. The collection shows how interest in the unconscious and changes in the conception of childhood demand that we re-evaluate our ideas of his writing. Individual essays by international experts trace Stevenson' literary contexts from Scotland to the South Pacific, and show him to be one of the key writers for understanding the growing sense of globalisation and cultural heterogeneity in the late nineteenth century.Key Features
• Sets Stevenson in his literary, scientific and political contexts
• Covers a broad range of Stevenson's fiction and non-fiction
• Written by a team of international scholars
• Includes an authoritative introduction and select bibliography

Excerpt

The preface to this series’ initial tranche of volumes recognised that some literary canons can conceive of a single ‘Great Tradition’. the series editors consider that there is no such simple way of conceiving of Scottish literature’s variousness. This arises from a multilingual and multivalent culture. It also arises from a culture that includes authors who move for many different reasons beyond Scotland’s physical boundaries, sometimes to return, sometimes not. the late Iain Wright in The Edinburgh History of Scottish Literature talked of the Scots as a ‘semi-nomadic people’. Robert Louis Stevenson travelled in stages across the world; Muriel Spark settled in Southern Africa, England and then Italy; James Kelman, while remaining close to his roots in Glasgow, has spent important periods in the United States; Irvine Welsh has moved from Leith, in Edinburgh, to a series of domestic bases on both sides of the Atlantic.

All four writers at one time and in one way or another have been underappreciated. Stevenson – most notoriously perhaps – for a time was seen as simply an adventure writer for the young. Yet Stevenson is now recognised not for simplicity, but his wonderful complexity, an international writer whose admirers included Borges and Nabokov. Similarly, the other three have firm international reputations based on innovation, literary experiment and pushing formal boundaries. All have grown out of the rich interrelationship of English and Scots in the literature to which they contribute; they embody its intercultural richness, hybridity and cosmopolitan potential. Some of their subject matter is far-flung: often they are situated not only physically but also in literary terms well beyond Scotland. Yet they are all important contributors to Scottish literature, a fact which problematises in the most positive and creative way any easy notion of what Scottish literature is.

Ian Brown Thomas Owen Clancy . . .

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