By J R Hammond
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Additional info for A Robert Louis Stevenson Companion: A guide to the novels, essays and short stories
Ule theme is also explored through the dichotomies implicit in his fiction. jekyll and Mr. Hyde), English versus French (St. Ives), convention versus rebellion (Weir of Hermiston). In each instance Stevenson demonstrates that the conflict is by no means clear-cut; that the dividing line separating 'good' from 'evil' conduct is frequently blurred, and that it is possible to shift one's allegiance in the light of changing circumstances. Silver, for example, veers between honesty and dishonesty so that to the end his ultimate allegiance is in doubt; Dick Shelton transfers his loyalty from Lancaster to York; Archie Weir deplores his father's intransigence yet becomes more and more inflexible in his dealings with others.
The poetry is chiefly of interest for the insight it affords into his personality and attitude to life and because in his verse he returned to themes and ideas he had aired in his fiction. Thus, 'A Song of the Road' and 'The Vaga· bond' give eloquent expression to that love of the open air, that yearning for life and adventure which is epitomised in Travels with a Donkey; 'To My Old Familiars' is a moving statement of his affec· tion for the people and scenes of his native Edinburgh; 'The Sick 30 A Robert Louis Stevenson Companion Child' is a reminder of his frequent boyhood illnesses and the devotion of his mother; 'To a Youth' is a powerful declaration (probably addressed to his cousin R.
Examples of this kind recur throughout the novels and romances. Rankeillor in Kidnapped, Prestongrange in Catriona, Pinkerton in The Wrecker and, above all, the Lord Justice-Clerk in Weir of Hermiston, are each solid and rounded creations, firmly rooted in observation of human traits. The same care is devoted to the creation of many of the minor characters. Even those characters who play insignificant roles- Lord Glenalmond in Weir of Hermiston, for example, or Thomas Dudgeon in St. Ives - are drawn with an attention to detail stemming from a deep fascination with human behaviour.
A Robert Louis Stevenson Companion: A guide to the novels, essays and short stories by J R Hammond