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South Sea Tales

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In South Sea Tales Stevenson shows himself to be a virtuoso of narrative styles. But beyond their generic diversity the stories are linked by their concern with representing the multiracial society of which their author had become a member. In this collection—the first to bring together all his shorter Pacific fiction in one volume—Stevenson emerges as a witness both to the cross-cultural encounters of nineteenth-century imperialism and to the creation of the global culture ...

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South Sea Tales

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Overview

In South Sea Tales Stevenson shows himself to be a virtuoso of narrative styles. But beyond their generic diversity the stories are linked by their concern with representing the multiracial society of which their author had become a member. In this collection—the first to bring together all his shorter Pacific fiction in one volume—Stevenson emerges as a witness both to the cross-cultural encounters of nineteenth-century imperialism and to the creation of the global culture which characterizes the post-colonial world.

About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780192837004
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 10/28/1999
  • Series: Oxford World's Classics Series
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Louis  Stevenson

Roslyn Jolly is Lecturer in English at the University of New South Wales, Australia. She is the author of Henry James: History, Narrative, Fiction (OUP, 1993).

Biography

Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. His father was an engineer, the head of a family firm that had constructed most of Scotland's lighthouses, and the family had a comfortable income. Stevenson was an only child and was often ill; as a result, he was much coddled by both his parents and his long-time nurse. The family took frequent trips to southern Europe to escape the cruel Edinburgh winters, trips that, along with his many illnesses, caused Stevenson to miss much of his formal schooling. He entered Edinburgh University in 1867, intending to become an engineer and enter the family business, but he was a desultory, disengaged student and never took a degree. In 1871, Stevenson switched his study to law, a profession which would leave time for his already-budding literary ambitions, and he managed to pass the bar in 1875.

Illness put an end to his legal career before it had even started, and Stevenson spent the next few years traveling in Europe and writing travel essays and literary criticism. In 1876, Stevenson fell in love with Fanny Vandergrift Osbourne, a married American woman more than ten years his senior, and returned with her to London, where he published his first fiction, "The Suicide Club." In 1879, Stevenson set sail for America, apparently in response to a telegram from Fanny, who had returned to California in an attempt to reconcile with her husband. Fanny obtained a divorce and the couple married in 1880, eventually returning to Europe, where they lived for the next several years. Stevenson was by this time beset by terrifying lung hemorrhages that would appear without warning and required months of convalescence in a healthy climate. Despite his periodic illnesses and his peripatetic life, Stevenson completed some of his most enduring works during this period: Treasure Island (1883), A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), Kidnapped (1886), and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886).

After his father's death and a trip to Edinburgh which he knew would be his last, Stevenson set sail once more for America in 1887 with his wife, mother, and stepson. In 1888, after spending a frigid winter in the Adirondack Mountains, Stevenson chartered a yacht and set sail from California bound for the South Pacific. The Stevensons spent time in Tahiti, Hawaii, Micronesia, and Australia, before settling in Samoa, where Stevenson bought a plantation called Vailima. Though he kept up a vigorous publishing schedule, Stevenson never returned to Europe. He died of a sudden brain hemorrhage on December 3, 1894.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Good To Know

It has been said that Stevenson may well be the inventor of the sleeping bag -- he described a large fleece-lined sack he brought along to sleep in on a journey through France in his book Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.

Long John Silver, the one-legged pirate cook in Stevenson's classic Treasure Island, is said to be based on the author's friend William Ernest Henley, whom he met when Henley was in Edinburgh for surgery to save his one good leg from tuberculosis.

Stevenson died in 1894 at Vailima,, his home on the South Pacific island of Upolu, Samoa. He was helping his wife make mayonnaise for dinner when he suffered a fatal stroke.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 13, 1850
    2. Place of Birth:
      Edinburgh, Scotland
    1. Date of Death:
      December 3, 1894
    2. Place of Death:
      Vailima, Samoa

Table of Contents

Introduction
Note on the Texts
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Robert Louis Stevenson
Map
The Beach of Falesa 3
The Bottle Imp 73
The Isle of Voices 103
The Ebb-Tide: A Trio and Quartette 123
The Cart-Horses and the Saddle-Horse 253
Something in It 255
Explanatory Notes 259
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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2007

    A reviewer

    Towards the end of Robert Louis Stevenson's life in the late 1880's, he had to move to the Pacific islands for his health. He managed to visit many of the most famous locales while there, including Hawaii, Tahiti, Samoa, the Gilberts, the Marshalls, and many besides these. He listened to and recorded both native legends and sailors' stories, besides creating a few original stories of his own. The book contains the following stories: The Beach of Falesa, The Bottle Imp, The Isle of Voices, The Ebb-Tide: A Trio and Quartette, and two very short stories. The book also contains a very lengthy literary overview and critique of Stevenson's work, which I would recommend skipping until after you've read the book. Thankfully, it also contains a map, which you will repeatedly refer to. The Beach of Falesa is about a European trader (Wiltshire) who takes up residence in the fictitious island of Falesa, whereupon he is hoodwinked by a fellow European (Case) into buying a worthless business and marrying an untouchable girl. Wiltshire then determines to unseat Case from his position of dominance among the natives, so he (Wiltshire) can make good on his business and restore his wife Uma to respectibility. This story like the others that follow are true character studies of both human weakness and resolve. The Bottle Imp is the story of a native Hawaiian who gets his genie in a bottle to grant him his wishes. But though his wishes are made true and he wins the heart of the girl of his dreams, he becomes both arrogant and cursed with leprosy. He is believed to be a devil by his neighbors. Forced into exile with a wife who believes that he doesn't love her, he desperately seeks out the genie once more to cure his illness. Then he can be with her again, but at the price of external damnation. Or is there still a way out? The Isle of Voices is also a story about greed and lust. One young Hawaiian man (Keola) yearns for a native girl, but lacks the material wealth for a comfortable marriage. So his girlfriend's father magically takes him to the mysterious and frightful Isle of Voices where treasure lies at his feet simply waiting to be picked up. Not sated with slight and trivial wealth, Keola determines to treacherously seize a vast fortune despite being ominously forbidden by the father. However, Keola's plan is overturned, and he is doomed to learn the secret of the Isle of Voices. The Ebb-Tide is about three washed up derelict sailors of varying criminal aptitudes who take up the job of delivering an abandoned cargo ship to Australia. However, the ship's European company have all died of smallpox, and everyone believes the ship to be cursed. So, Herrick, Davis, and Huish let sail - but to sell the cargo themselves and then take up as pirates. As the trio complete their dangerous moral and legal fall into piracy and murder, they come upon a queer island loaded with wealth. But will they survive what lies ahead? Overall, I enjoyed the book, but I wasn't engrossed in it. Skip the introduction, or you won't continue reading the book. Go straight to the stories. All the stories are good, but the Ebb-Tide is probably the best.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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