EdRLS

The New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson

Archive for September 2012

Essays Top Ten

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A bit of trivia.
As part of the essays edition we have logged the essays in all the anthologies with an essay by RLS that we could find (66 so far), so that we can get an idea of what were the popular or typical essays in various periods. Here are some results:

Ten most anthologized RLS essays to 1949

1. Aes Triplex
2. An Apology for Idlers
3. Truth of Intercourse
4. Books Which Have Influenced Me
5. On Falling in Love
6. Pulvis et Umbra
7. Walking Tours
8. Virginibus Puerisque [I]
9. The Morality of the Profession of Letters
10. Child’s Play

Seven of the top ten from one collection: Virginibus Puerisque!

Ten most anthologized RLS essays from 1950

1. A Gossip on Romance (^)
2. An Apology for Idlers (=)
3. Books Which Have Influenced Me (^)
4. A Note on Realism (new entry)
5. The Lantern-Bearers (new entry)
6. A Humble Remonstrance (new entry)
7. The Morality of the Profession of Letters (^)
8. A Chapter on Dreams (new entry)
9. On Style in Literature: Its Technical Elements (new entry)
10. A Penny Plain and Twopence Coloured (new entry)

‘Idlers’ the only VP title still in the top ten; new entries mainly about literature and the imagination.

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Written by rdury

28/09/2012 at 5:14 pm

Manuscript puzzle/2: Notes for ‘The Four Seasons’

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Here is part 2 of our cleaned-up version of notes from the previous post.

Notes for ‘The Four Seasons’ (late 1878).

[Yale, GEN MSS 664 box 38 folder 830 (RLS/F, Notebook F/Inland Voyage Notebook), spread 6, numbered p. 3v]

[This unfinished outline could have been intended as a kind of rhapsodic celebration of a-moral natural forces, like ‘Pan’s Pipes’ written in the same year and like passages of An Inland Voyage, the journal of which shares the same notebook.]

The Four Seasons.

Prologue. The world: what is that image[1] in the purple sunset; fire, snow, tempests,
habitability, ploughs going.[2]

Spring: motto from Morte d’Arthur[3]
The New year . wrong reckoning . Waking in the morning . so with births .
Birth of all things . Births . Youth . Memory . Memory in
youth and manhood . Youth of the World . Lilacs . smells .
birds . Invasion of the town by the country . Love . as
regards the body and the soul . Growth ; the leaves, the burnets[4]
and the dokens[5] all beginning to sprout in the fields.

Summer . Culmination . Gardens . Forests . Heat in itself . Eternal
Summer ; longevity . The love of water, rivers, springs and
seas . Mountain top . Delicacy of the season, coolness .
Full leafage . Insects . Summer of women . Exercise
Watering Places . (Hot South, sensuality, living touch of things,
little raiment.

Autumn.


[1] Word not clear; other suggested readings: ‘ange[l]’, ‘sings’, ‘song’ or ‘dirge’.

[2] The mixture of the violent and peaceful aspects of nature in this list is reminiscent of the late poem ‘Tropic Rain’: ‘And methought that beauty and terror are only one, not two; / And the world has room for love, and death, and thunder, and dew’.

[3] Perhaps:  ‘And thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter, that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in like wise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May …’ (Bk 18, ch 25).

[4]  Burnet roses, a kind of wild rose often found on heaths.

[5] Word not clear; could be Scots ‘docken’ or ‘dokken’, i.e. the dock plant.

Written by rdury

15/09/2012 at 4:07 pm

Manuscript puzzle: Notes for Edinburgh Picturesque Notes

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The helpful comments from our readers were so many that I thought it would be interesting to present here cleaned-up versions of the two sets of notes referred to in the previous post. First of all the EPN jottings.

Notes for ‘The Pentland Hills’ and ‘The Parliament Close’ (Edinburgh Picturesque Notes), 1878.

[Yale, GEN MSS 664 box 38 folder 830 (RLS/F, Notebook F/Inland Voyage Notebook),  spread 2, recto page]

[RLS had published seven monthly ‘Notes on Edinburgh’ in the Portfolio, June-Dec 1878 and towards the end of that period wrote three additional essays for the book edition; this notebook seems to be the first notes for an eighth and ninth chapter (which became chapters X and III) with no mention here of the third addition, ‘The Villa Quarters’. There is another draft to ‘The Pentland Hills’ in the 1878 ‘Travels with a Donkey’ notebook in the Huntington Library. These first notes, though apparently just a quick jottings of ideas, are remarkably close to the sequence of the finished essays, showing RLS’s ability to conceive and rapidly sketch out the basic structure of an essay.]

8 Golf[1] . gibbet . Fairmilehead . Curlews. B. Bridge . Gauger . Clerk’s stone,[2]
Comiston[3] . H. Tryst . Peddie[4] . devil . The cottage, the farm. Conventicle . P. Charlie .
The hills . The view . Wind up to the tune of over the hills .

9. Crowded street. Bishops open[5] , signs on pavement[6] . J. K.[7] H of Midlothian . St Giles . Stork[8]
Gaille [?][9] . Robertson & Wilson[10] . P. Ho . Courts . Scott . gray bar[11] . the cellars.[12]


[1] Golf is not mentioned in the the published chapter, but the other notes correspond closely to the finished essay and appear in that order, down to RLS’s note to himself to ‘Wind up [i.e. conclude] to the tune of over the hills’.

[2] The essay refers instead to ‘an upright stone in a field’, known as ‘General Kay’s monument’. There is a landmark in the Cairngorms called Clach a’ Cleirich (the clerk’s stone); perhaps RLS confused the names here.

[3] After the story of the ‘upright stone in a field’ the published essay mentions the ghost of Comiston.

[4] This name is not in the published essay, but from its position in the list it must be associated with the devil of Hunter’s Tryst. The essay says that ‘chosen ministers were summoned out of Edinburgh and prayed by the hour’, so it possibly refers to James Peddie, minister of Bristo Street 1782-1845.

[5] Possibly a note for: ‘when the Bishops were ejected from the Convention in 1688, ‘all fourteen of them gathered together with pale faces and stood in a cloud in the Parliament Close’.

[6] Two memorials set into the roadway or pavement near St. Giles: the ‘Heart of Midlothian’ and ‘J.K.’ commemorating John Knox.

[7] ‘In the Parliament Close, trodden daily underfoot by advocates, two letters and a date mark the resting-place of … John Knox.’

[8] A stork nested on the roof of St. Giles in 1416 – the last record of breeding by the white stork in Britain. Not mentioned in the published essay.

[9] This looks like ‘Jaille’ with the first letter overwritten with ‘G’: perhaps RLS was uncertain about the spelling of jail/gaol.

[10] Robertson & Wilson: Andrew Wilson and George Robertson were condemned to death for smuggling in April 1736. At Wilson’s execution in the Grassmarket, when his body was cut down from the gallows against the wishes of the mob, John Porteous, the Captain of the City Guard, ordered shooting into the crowd and six died. Porteous was convicted of murder, but shortly before his execution he was seized – in ‘The Porteous Riot’ – from the Old Tolbooth, next to St. Giles’ by an angry mob and hurriedly hanged in the Grassmarket. This story is not included in the finished essay.

[11] Perhaps ‘gray bar’ is a note for ‘Here, you may see Scott’s place within the bar, where he wrote many a page of Waverley novels to the drone of judicial proceeding’.

[12] The cellars are described in the last part of the published essay.

Written by rdury

15/09/2012 at 3:13 pm

RLS 2013 in Sydney

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For further details, see conference website: http://www.rls2013.com

Written by rdury

14/09/2012 at 11:06 am

Today’s manuscript puzzle: The Four Seasons

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The Inland Voyage Notebook

The Beinecke Library has a notebook (Notebook F) including the journal RLS kept on the ‘Inland Voyage’ in September 1876. This he then took up again and used it for a series of notes and drafts that all seem to come from 1878. Two of them are a series of notes in an unusual form for RLS: words or short phrases separated by dots that seem to be placed halfway between each. Both contain some problems of decypherment for which I ask the help of anyone reading this post.

Notes for Edinburgh Picturesque Notes

In the run-up to publication of the Edinburgh essays in books form (December 1878), RLS wrote three new essays and this notebook contains preliminary ideas for two of them, ‘The Pentland Hills’ and ‘The Parliament Close’. Here is the MS followed by a transcription:

8 Golf . gibbet . Fairmilehead . Curlews. B. Bridge . Gauger . Clerk’s stone, Dearsham {?} . H. Tryst . Peddie . devil . The cottage, the farm. Conventicle . P. Charlie . The hills . The view . Wind up to the tune of over the hills .
9. Crowded street, The <d>shops</d> open , signs on pavement . J. K.  H of Midlothian . St Giles . Stook {?} xxxville {?} . Robertson & Wilson . P. Ho . Courts . Scott . young love. the cellars.

Can anyone help with the following points: (i) Dearsham, (ii) Stook xxxville, (iii) the references to ‘Peddie’ and ‘Robertson & Wilson’?

The Four Seasons

A few pages further on are the notes for what looks like an essay on ‘The Four Seasons’ (lacking ‘Autumn’ and ‘Winter’). First, here’s a transcription of the first two sections:

The Four Seasons.
Prologue. The world: what is that {?} ange {?} in {? } the purple sunset; fire, snow, tempests, habitability, ploughs going.
Spring: motto from Morte d’Arthur
The New year . wrong reckoning . Waking in the morning . so with births . Birth of all things . Births . Youth . Memory . Memory in youth and manhood . Youth of the World . Lilacs . smells . birds . Invasion of the town by the country . Love . as regards the body and the soul . Growth ; the leaves, the harvests {?} and the dollars {?} all beginning to sprout in the fields.

The problems here are (i) the decypherent of those three words in the prologue

i.e. “Prologue . The World: what is {?} {?} {?} the purple sunset”; and (ii) a better transcription or an explanation for ‘harvests’ and ‘dollars’ at the end of the notes for ‘Spring’:

Any suggestions will be most gratefuly received.

Education of an Engineer: Stevenson and the diving suit

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In ‘The Education of an Engineer’, RLS talks about his attraction for the activity of the sea divers and their diving suits:

Only one thing in connection with the harbour tempted me, and that was the diving, an experience I burned to taste of. But this was not to be, at least in Anstruther; and the subject involves a change of scene to the sub-arctic town of Wick…. To go down in the diving-dress, that was my absorbing fancy

In a small sketch book used as a notebook now in the Beinecke Library (Notebook V), there is a crude drawing (right), showing a diver’s helmet. RLS was in Anstruther and Wick in the summer and autumn of 1868. The notebook is later: it contains material from the years 1875-77.

(The Beinecke now allows readers to take photos with their own digital cameras – this is one of the first I took; I hope to improve.)

Written by rdury

05/09/2012 at 11:39 am