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Essays of Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson

Book Overview: 

“Extreme busyness…is a symptom of deficient vitality; and a faculty for idleness implies a catholic appetite and a strong sense of personal identity.”

What comforting words for the idle among us! Like many of the best essayists, Stevenson is very much the genial fireside companion: opinionated, but never malicious; a marvelous practitioner of the inclusive monologue.

In this collection of nine pieces he discusses the art of appreciating unattractive scenery, traces the complex social life of dogs, and meditates in several essays upon the experience of reading literature and writing it. Perhaps his most personal passages concern death and mortality. Here we meet him at his most in-dogmatically optimistic, as he affirms a wholesome faith in “the liveableness of Life”.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .ked out, the snuffbox empty, and my gentleman sits bolt upright upon a bench, with lamentable eyes. This does not appeal to me as being Success in Life.

But it is not only the person himself who suffers from his busy habits, but his wife and children, his friends and relations, and down to the very people he sits with in a railway carriage or an omnibus. Perpetual devotion to what a man calls his business, is only to be sustained by perpetual neglect of many other things. And it is not by any means certain that a man's business is the most important thing he has to do. To an impartial estimate it will seem clear that many of the wisest, most virtuous, and most beneficent parts that are to be played upon the Theatre of Life are filled by gratuitous performers, and pass, among the world at large, as phases of idleness. For in that Theatre not only the walking gentlemen, singing chambermaids, and diligent fiddlers in the orchestra, but those who look on and clap their. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Stevenson exudes an adventurer's constitution. I was drawn in especially after listening to his essay on walking. He is humorous and perceptive. He has much to say worth pondering.

Stevenson’s novels are undoubtedly what most people read and love. This volume of essays gives a little more direct insight into his thinking and is good for serious fans. He obviously has a late Victorian bent for the beautiful and against the life spent making money in traditional Victorian ways s

I have had this book FOREVER-no doubt acquired during my very earnest early years of aspiration to be a classicist from one of the very earnest little mail order book catalogs which I used to scour for bargains and which no longer exist. I determined to actually read it after a friend was browsing t

This is a sort of mixed bag. Stevenson was apparently capable of writing essays that were amusing and insightful, but he could also write duds.

Discriminado durante buena parte del s. XX como un autor «menor» o de novela «juvenil» o «de aventuras», Robert Louis Stevenson demuestra con estos ensayos (traducidos por Ismael Attrache y editados por Alberto Manguel para el Fondo de Cultura Económica y Ediciones Siruela) que no solo era una de la

Brilliant writing: I found myself easily being 'transported' in the Stevenson's beautifully crafted prose. He was one of the select few masters of the English language as it was.

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