Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes and The Amateur Emigrant

Overview

In 1878 Robert Louis Stevenson escaped from his numerous troubles—poor health, tormented love, inadequate funds—by embarking on a journey through the Cévennes in France, accompanied by Modestine, a rather single-minded donkey. The notebook Stevenson kept during this time became Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, a highly entertaining account of the French and their country. The Amateur Emigrant describes his travels to and around America: the crowded weeks in steerage, the cross-country train journey. Filled ...

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Overview

In 1878 Robert Louis Stevenson escaped from his numerous troubles—poor health, tormented love, inadequate funds—by embarking on a journey through the Cévennes in France, accompanied by Modestine, a rather single-minded donkey. The notebook Stevenson kept during this time became Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes, a highly entertaining account of the French and their country. The Amateur Emigrant describes his travels to and around America: the crowded weeks in steerage, the cross-country train journey. Filled with sharp-eyed observations, it brilliantly conveys Stevenson’s perceptions of America and the Americans. Together, these writings reveal as much about the traveler as the places he travels to.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780141439464
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 2/28/2005
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 1,397,470
  • Product dimensions: 5.13 (w) x 7.81 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Louis  Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was born in Edinburgh. In the brief span of forty-four years, dogged by poor health, he made an enormous contribution to English literature with his novels, poetry, and essays. The son of upper-middle-class parents, he was the victim of lung trouble from birth, and spent a sheltered childhood surrounded by constant care. The balance of his life was taken up with his unremitting devotion to work, and a search for a cure to his illness that took him all over the world. His travel essays were publihsed widely, and his short fiction was gathered in many volumes. His first full-length work of fiction, Treasure Island, was published in 1883 and brought him great fame, which only increased with the publication of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). He followed with the Scottish romances Kidnapped (1886) and The Master of Ballantrae (1889). In 1888 he set out with his family for the South Seas, traveling to the leper colony at Molokai, and finally settling in Samoa, where he died.

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

Map : the Cevennes
Map : traveling across the USA
Travels with a donkey in the Cevennes
The amateur emigrant
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