The Teller of Tales: In Search of Robert Louis Stevenson

Hunter Davies, Author
Hunter Davies, Author Interlink Publishing Group $16 (336p) ISBN 978-1-56656-204-1
Hardcover - 352 pages - 978-1-56656-205-8
Hardcover - 290 pages - 978-1-85619-263-7
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In 1903, one Laura Stubbs wrote a tiny book recounting her pilgrimage to Samoa on the trail of Stevenson. For his part, Davies offers a much more extensive recounting of his travels to Samoa via Edinburgh, San Francisco, Hyeres and various other locales. It's really two books in one, alternating chapters of biography with Davies's re-visitation, the latter written in the form of letters from Davies to his subject. The talented Davies, whose dry wit and warts-and-all journalism serves Stevenson well, reports back to the author on the state of the various locales and also of Stevenson scholarship. In one section he writes, to ""Dear Louis,"" that he'd read Elaine Showalter's Sexual Anarchy on the train to Bournemouth. ""I staggered off the train, feeling slightly dizzy... How had I missed the fact that Dr. Jekyll was a homosexual story. She had spotted it straight away, quoting references such as Hyde traveling through `chocolate brown fog' to Jekyll's rear door. Then there's his continued use of the word `queer.' Pretty conclusive, so Ms. Showalter believes."" Davies, who admits to having borrowed or bought some 200 RLS-related volumes over the past few years, brings a broad knowledge to his book--as well as an ear for a story and an eye for the absurd that Stevenson would have appreciated. (Oct.).
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