Robert Louis Stevenson book Memories and Portraits. Volumes 29 and 30 Heinemann Tusitalia. Stevenson Autobiography.

Robert Louis Stevenson book Memories and Portraits. Volumes 29 and 30 Heinemann Tusitalia. Stevenson Autobiography.


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Almost antique (1924) Robert Louis Stevenson hardcover book entitled Memories and Portraits Volumes XXVIIII and XXX of the Tusitalia Edition published and printed in England by Heinemann.


About the title: The sixteen essays of the collection cover a wide range of topics. The first eleven consists of personal memories (and portraits) of family and friends and Stevenson's own exuberant and candid letters. This work is considered the closest thing to an autobiography by Stevenson.

The very first essay is about his memories as a Scot of his first contacts with England (“The Foreigner Abroad”). The collection then continues with memories of early life in Scotland (childhood memories of Swanston, Colinton and Cramond; reminiscences of his University days and his time on the Isle of Erraid while training to be an engineer). In “A College Magazine”, he describes with endearing honesty how he “played the sedulous ape” to great writers of the past, while searching for a style of his own. (This statement became a popular stick for unfriendly critics to beat him with during his life and after.) This group of essays ends with a tender, but very honest, portrait of his recently deceased father and a brilliant analysis of conversation and celebration of friendship in “Talk and Talkers”.

The last five essays are more varied. They include “The Character of Dogs”, in which dogs are playfully compared, sociologically and psychologically, with humans, who turn out to be by no means the superior animal. The last four essays are brilliant critical essays and “literary manifestos”. “A Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured” is a beautiful, evocative piece about Skelt’s Juvenile Drama, the toy theatre of his youth and develops into a theory of the importance of the imagination in human perception. In “A Gossip on a Novel of Dumas’s” he remembers and celebrates the pleasures of reading and re-reading.

Two “literary manifestos” end the volume. These belong to the important theoretical essays written in the 1880s in which RLS was thinking through his own transition from essayist to novelist. Only two of them, the ones in this volume, were collected during RLS’s lifetime: “A Gossip on Romance”, and “A Humble Remonstrance”. Three others, originally published in magazines, were only republished after his death: “The Morality of the Profession of Letters”, “A Note on Realism” and “On Some Technical Elements of Style in Literature”.

“A Gossip on Romance” was written at the same time as the early chapters of Treasure Island and can be seen as a guide to how to read it. Romance is seen as a constant element of human psychology. It is involved in irrational and amoral responses to circumstances and allows the reader to confront subconscious desires and urges. The essay is indeed a notable contribution to the psychology of reading pleasure.

The book ends with one of the most significant essays RLS ever wrote, “A Humble Remonstrance”. Written in response to some opinions expressed in print by Henry James about the importance of truth to the novelist’s work, Stevenson’s piece marks the beginning of the first real debate about the art of fiction. As in the other critical essays in the volume, great emphasis is placed on the role of imagination in reading and in people’s lives. RLS’s reply pleased James for its intelligence and style and initiated ten years of mutually nourishing friendship with James, cut short only by RLS’s early death.

The essays are all written in Stevenson’s brilliant essayistic style: charmingly egotistical, playful, false-stepping the amused reader with unusual uses of words, but at the same time records of intelligent thought, all the while scattering aphorisms impressive for their brevity and concentration of thought: “Drama is the poetry of conduct, romance the poetry of circumstance.”

St. Ives concerns the adventures of the dashing Viscomte Anne de Keroual de St. Ives, a Napoleonic soldier enlisted as a private under the name Champdivers, after his capture by the British. The Weir of Hermiston tells the story of Archie Weir, a youth born into an upper-class Edinburgh family who, because of his romantic sensibilities, becomes estranged from his father, who is depicted in the novel as the coarse and cruel man and a judge of the Criminal Courts. By mutual consent, Archie is banished from his family and sent to live as the local laird in the hamlet of Hermiston.

Condition: In VERY GOOD! overall condition, the blood-red boards, with leather corners, have spots of discoloration. Gold-embossed leather spine shows MINIMAL! wear and NO! fraying. Sewn-in bind is in good condition with stress towards the covers and middle. There are NO! pages separated from the bind. Internal pages show very little foxing. Some of the pages are improperly cut and still bound together. Book has NO! dog-eared corners and NO! margin notations. Pages show some creases on the edges. All text is clear and legible. Book contains NO illustrations. There are spots of browning from dampness to a few of the pages.

Approximate measurements: 8" x 5-1/2" | NO dust jacket.

Other volumes of Robert Louis Stevenson Tusitalia edition books are also available in the shop. DO! check them out as well using this convenient link:

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