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Posted September 26, 2009
Imagine being a first-time visitor to the City of Edinburgh around 1870, riding in a carriage with a very knowledgeable, talkative, and loyal tour guide. Passing through the various parts of the city your guide points this way and that -- to that spire, to that wall, to that house, to that castle, to that palace, to that street with its taverns and jails, to that distant hill, and on. History comes to life-- with its politicians, its famous characters of the street including the story of Deacon Brodie, the city's bipolar figure who prompted the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. There were the religious personalities, stories of kings and queens, and geographical features, along with the architecture and famous churches. The smells and sounds of the city are pointed out-- the bells, the chimes, the clank of masonry tools, an acrid smell or two from the sewers and then the odor of a Spring flower, a bird's whistle, and smoke from a thousand chimneys.
Your tour guide is none other than the famous author of Kidnapped, Treasure Island, The Master of Ballantrae, A Child's Garden of Verses and many more. He is Robert Louis Stevenson, the storyteller and poet, along with many works about his international travels. It is Stevenson's enthusiasm about his beloved city which compels the reader to listen to his tales.
If one can be critical of the book, it is that this Peoples' Edition (published by BiblioBazaar) is a photographic facsimile, and while the print is not difficult to read, it apparently attempts to capture the authenticity of one of the original editions. I have found from other sources that there are editions of 1879 and 1889, then this People's Edition of 1903, and even the modern Barnes & Noble Edition which is also a facsimile.
A bus tour of Edinburgh today would include most of what Stevenson describes 150 years ago, and there continue to be some very knowledgeable and enthusiastic tour guides to be sure. But the writing flavor of this classic and inimitable personality of old Scotland can prepare, delight, and excite a reader, visitor, citizen, returning traveler, and any who who are merely curious about a picturesque tour of the capital of Scotland. Robert Louis Stevenson becomes your guide and companion.
C. Fred Sanford, AB, MDiv, MA
Statesville, North Carolina September 2009
Posted October 6, 2010
No text was provided for this review.