Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (1850-1894)
Scottish novelist, poet, all-purpose writer
Stevenson is famous for Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
He's not so famous for his last (uncompleted) novel, St Ives: Being the Adventures of a French Prisoner in England (1897). It was finished from Stevenson's notes by Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch, a talented British writer.
St. Ives is unmistakable 19th century prose, through and through—Stevenson's oeuvre is fastidiously lush, precise, sophisticated, with deeply contextual character development and dialogue that leaves me breathless with anticipation for more. Did I mention that I'm a fan of 19th century prose?
There is a love interest, of course. It involves a prim but worldly Scottish maiden and the eponymous French prisoner, a nobleman whose service to Napoleon has ended in captivity in Edinburgh. Stevenson allows le prisonnier, M. le Vicomte de St. Ives, to confidently speculate on his prospects with the lady: "Many waters cannot quench love."
Indeed. Read St. Ives to get the whole story.
Copyright © Richard Carl Subber 2016 All rights reserved.