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I've always had a deep fondness for RLS. I knew a little about his life, but this novel opened my eyes to many things. Nancy Horan obviously did a great deal of research.
Did you know he wrote Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde while near death's door? In fact, he wrote the first draft in three days. Then he decided he didn't like it, burned it, and wrote a second draft in the following three days. All this by hand, in pen and ink.
Despite battling chronic lung problems and other health issues his entire life, that often kept him bed-ridden for weeks, even months at a time, Stevenson had an incredibly optimistic and positive outlook on life.
The author, Ms. Horan, has Stevenson say this about writers who believe they need to write literary realism. "Obviously, I'm not afraid to write about cruelty or violence." (He's talking here about Dr. J and Mr. H.) "But for a writer to feed the reader great dank heaps of ugliness in the name of realism is dispiriting. And to foist such stuff on young minds? It's evil. Writers should find out where joy resides and give it a voice. Every bright word or picture is a piece of pleasure set afloat. The reader catches it, and he goes on his way rejoicing. It's the business of art to send him that way as often as possible. I have to believe that every heart that has beat strongly and cheerfully has left a hopeful impulse behind it in the world. If I cannot believe that, then why should I go on? Why should anyone go on?"
I love, love, LOVE this.
Are you familiar with the novel? Have you read any books by Stevenson? Got a favorite?