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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

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850. He was an invalid as a child. Reluctant to study law but passed his exams in 1875. He loved travel, the Scottish weather being an encouragement. Treasure Island was published in 1883. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was his breakthrough work in 188...more

A couple amazing essays, a couple bad ones, several that are mediocre. The writing, of course, is great throughout, so the degree to which I enjoyed any particular essay is entirely related to how interesting I found each topic. APOLOGY FOR IDLERS and AES TRIPLEX are two of the best essays I've e...more

Exceptional essayist. He writes of how he discovered that one can become satisfied anywhere, even in the windy alcove of a barren coastline, but he still managed to travel the world with a debilitating lung condition.

I wish we could shake even more Scottsmen in the rain, then shake them out again...more

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.

Enjoyed these essays by an author whose fiction I particularly like. Kidnapped being my favorite.

From his first essay in the book "ON THE ENJOYMENT OF UNPLEASANT PLACES"

Things looked at patiently from one side after another generally end by showing a side that is beautiful.

I wish I had read th...more

An interesting man and excellent writer, these sets of essays provide an insight into his mind and way of thinking that I liked quite a lot in general. Some weren't that great, but overall, it was a good read.

This would not have been my first choice of reading material, but since the last week has been broken up and I "needed" to read an essay anthology, I decided to get this off my TBR list. There were bits and pieces in here that I found interesting and/or amusing, but the rest I could have done wit...more

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.

A really interesting collection of essays that provides a far greater insight into this author's thoughts and ideas than any biography could. I finished them and am already planning on a re-read sometime in the future. The most enjoyable ones, and those I would feel inclined to pass on to others,...more

The ideas were great and the writing was prett, but it's age made the vocabulary unintuitive to
Me and I didn't understand the 19th century references.

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