- Paperback: 46 pages
- Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 12, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1466269146
- ISBN-13: 978-1466269149
- Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.1 x 10 inches
- Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,719,163 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Essays in the Art of Writing
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About the Author
Robert Louis Stevenson (eigentlich Robert Levis Balfour Stevenson) wurde am 13.11.1850 in Edinburgh geboren. Der Vater war Leuchtturmbaumeister, das wollte auch der Sohn werden. Er hatte jedoch ein Lungenleiden und studierte daher Jura von 1871-1875. Er arbeitete jedoch nicht als Rechtsanwalt sondern wurde freier Schriftsteller, vergeblich ein Klima suchend, das sein Lungenleiden heilte. Seit 1888 lebte er auf Samoa, wo er bei den Eingeborenen in hohem Ansehen stand. Er starb am 03.12.1894 im Haus Vailima bei Apia (Westsamoa). --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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The first chapter, "On Some Technical Elements of Style in Literature," was perhaps the most practical for writers, but it was almost as tedious to read as the essay's title suggests. Other essays, like "Books Which Have Influenced Me," were far more interesting in helping to uncover how Stevenson's thinking was shaped by a few important authors. "Not all men can read all books," he wrote, "it is only in a chosen few that any man will find his appointed food." In the essay, "A Note on Realism," Stevenson discusses the change in literature in his day, the move away from idealism to realism. There is a danger in realism, he cautions, of sacrificing beauty and significance while pursuing the passion missing in idealism. "Breathing as we do the intellectual atmosphere of our age, we are more apt to err upon the side of realism than to sin in quest of the ideal."
That last 3 essays in this volume move away from technical and obscure information about writing to useful discussions about 2 of his own books. The essay about his first novel, and my favorite, Treasure Island, was very enjoyable. I was surprised to learn that what began as a map he drew of an imaginary island grew to be the adventure story that has influenced practically all other pirate stories. He claims to have taken inspiration for his characters from numerous literary sources. But the plot was rooted in his map. The concluding chapters are about another of his novels, The Master of Ballantrae. The first of these concerns the genesis of story. The last chapter is the make-believe preface he added to the second edition of the novel.
Altogether, these 7 essays, some more helpful or more appealing than others, reveal the sources and processes Stevenson and other writers use. While there is some help here in understanding the mind of this great writer, the general audience may not find a great deal of pleasure in them. Better for most of us just to jump right into reading his classic stories.
For example, Stevenson goes off on the dialogue of "realism," suggesting that dialogue in fiction should be more, well, elegant. And I get that: when it works, as in for example, Jack Vance's work, it's beautiful. But I also like dialogue that sounds like something somebody could actually say in the circumstances.
Probably the most entertaining-to-me essay here is the one on the birth of "Treasure Island." It seems that RLS started with a map and wrote based on it. He wrote it for family, reading it at a chapter a night. And his original title was "The Sea Cook," which is quite accurate but decidedly less exciting.