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

Essays Top Ten

with 2 comments

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.


Written by rdury

28/09/2012 at 5:14 pm

2 Responses

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  1. This is really interesting. In some ways it tracks the acceptance of Stevenson as a literary theorist–if I were asked to guess the top three in recent years I’d say ‘Gossip on Romance’, ‘Humble Remonstrance’ (with ‘Chapter on Dreams’ for the psychological implications for Jekyll and Hyde.


    07/10/2012 at 3:19 pm

    • It is amazing how a simple list can suggest ideas – indeed, there is a theory that the story originates in the list: it comes from explaining the interstices, the juxtaposed items. (John Sessions had a one man show improvising a story from a person, a place and two objects chosen by the audience.)

      And here the two lists suggest (even attest) a change of taste and interest; to me they also suggest maybe it’s worthwhile giving Virginibus Puerisque another look. Which is not to say I don’t appreciate the later essays too and those on literary theory–luckily, as an editor of the essays, I get pleasure from them all.


      07/10/2012 at 5:07 pm

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