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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

146                                 NOTES

XVII
MY FIRST  BOOKó' TREASURE  ISLAND'

The interest of this essay lies in the insight which it affords inco
the making of a famous book. Stevenson, with his usual engaging
frankness, takes the reader into his study and allows him to watch
the process by which his earliest work of fiction saw the light. * I
was bound to write a novel,' he tells us. Treasure Island was
conceived in the autumn of 1881 at Braemar, where the Stevensons
were taking their first Highland holiday. For the part played by
Dr. Japp in bringing it into the world, the student is referred to
that ingenuous writer's R. L, Stevenson : a Record, an Estimate,
and a Reminiscence. The reader should note the three peculiar
traits of Treasure Island, for they are equally characteristic of all
Stevenson's work in this vein. ' It was to be a story for boys:
no need of psychology or fine writing: women were excluded,'
Stevenson, as he tells us more than once, has few if any heroines.

Foe. Edgar Allan Poe (1809-49), a morbid but powerful American
writer of verses and short stories, in which the gruesome, horrible
and fantastic elements predominate.

John Silver. Some hints for this character were taken from W. E.
Henley, as Stevenson confessed in a letter to him.

Washington Irving (1783-1859), American author and traveller,
remembered for the charming sketches of English and American
life and of his travels in Europe in The Sketch Boole (1820), Brace-
bridge Hall (1822) and Tales of a Traveller (1824).

Davos, the Swiss mountain-station where the Stevensons spent
the winters of 1880-2. It is a sanatorium for consumptive patients.

Boisgofoey (1824-91), a writer of detective stories of the ' Sherlock
Holmes * type, Les Mysteres du Nouveau Paris, Les Nuits de
Constantinople, etc.

John Addington Symonds (1840-93), critic and scholar and friend
of Stevenson, known chiefly for his History oj the Renaissance in
Italy (1875-86).

Thepphrastus, a Greek philosopher who was a pupil and successor
of Aristotle. His Characters (c. 288 B.C.) contains the germ of
the modern essay and was imitated by Sir Thomas Overbury and
others.

* At Last,' Charles Kingsley's work (1871) in which he describes
his travels in the West Indies.

Johnson's Buccaneers. Lives of Pirates and Highwaymen, by
Captain Charles Johnson.

* Master man Ready,* by Captain Marryat, one of Stevenson's old
favourites.

PRINTED IN GREAT BEITAIN AT THJfi.gJMV BttSA4.X
BY JOHN JOHNSON. P1UNTKR TQ TEE UNIY