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Robert Louis Stevenson in the Pacific [electronic resource] : travel, empire, and the author's profession /
Roslyn Jolly.
Farnham, England ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, c2009.
viii, 193 p. ; 25 cm.
0754661954 (alk. paper), 9780754661955 (alk. paper)
More Details
Farnham, England ; Burlington, VT : Ashgate, c2009.
0754661954 (alk. paper)
9780754661955 (alk. paper)
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
Includes bibliographical references (p. [179]-188) and index.
A Look Inside
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2009-10-01:
This carefully argued, well-supported, thesis-driven study examines in detail the biographical facts and limited but far-ranging writing Stevenson (1850-94) produced from 1887 to 1894, his South Seas days. By close consideration of Stevenson's travel letters, interviews, histories, legal assessments, and political judgments, as well as his fiction, Jolly (Univ. of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia) demonstrates that Stevenson enhanced his professional authorship by broadening his writing in ways that allowed him to utilize his legal education and also pursue his interests in historiography, anthropology, and journalism. For example, the author devotes one of the book's five chapters to dissecting the intricacies of Stevenson's history of Samoa, A Footnote to History (1892). Jolly also works with contemporaneous reviews to show that as Stevenson developed and expanded as a writer, his Victorian readers resisted his Pacific literary ventures (as may, this reviewer suspects, many readers of this book), even though, as Jolly reveals in this compelling account, in his late work one sees another Stevenson--one more diverse and even more complex than the familiar writer with whom one feels comfortable. Including a splendid, useful works cited, this book will be especially valuable to those interested in travel and empire. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates and above. T. Loe SUNY Oswego
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, October 2009
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Bowker Data Service Summary
Roslyn Jolly examines a crucial period (1887-1894) in Robert Louis Stevenson's life, focusing on the self-transformation wrought in his Pacific travel-writing and political texts. A key feature of the study is her analysis of the resistance of Victorian readers to Stevenson's experiments with new styles and genres.
Long Description
Robert Louis Stevenson's departure from Europe in 1887 coincided with a vocational crisis prompted by his father's death. Impatient with his established identity as a writer, Stevenson was eager to explore different ways of writing, at the same time that living in the Pacific stimulated a range of latent intellectual and political interests. Roslyn Jolly examines the crucial period from 1887 to 1894, focusing on the self-transformation wrought in Stevenson's Pacific travel-writing and political texts. Jolly shows how Stevenson's desire to understand unfamiliar Polynesian and Micronesian cultures, and to record and intervene in the politics of Samoa, gave him opportunities to use his legal education, pursue his interest in historiography, and experiment with anthropology and journalism. Thus as his geographical and cultural horizons expanded, Stevenson's professional sphere enlarged as well, stretching the category of authorship in which his successes as a novelist had placed him. Rather than enhancing his stature as a popular writer, however, Stevenson's experiments with new styles and genres, and the Pacific subject matter of his later works, were resisted by his readers. Jolly's analysis of contemporary responses to Stevenson's writing, gleaned from an extensive collection of reviews, many of which are not readily available, provides fascinating insights into the interests, obsessions, and resistances of Victorian readers. As Stevenson sought to escape the vocational straightjacket that confined him, his readers just as strenuously expressed their loyalty to outmoded images of Stevenson the author, and their distrust of the new guises in which he presented himself.
Table of Contents
1887: the turning point
The travel writer as anthropologist: In the South Seas
Our man in Samoa: A Footnote to History
The novelist as lawyer: the Times letters and Catriona
1894: repossession
Works cited
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

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