In Kidnapped (1886) and later fiction such as The Master of Ballantrae (1888), Stevenson examined some of the extreme and contrary currents of Scotland's past, often projecting a dualism of both personality and belief. This dualism is most famous in Kidnapped, whose two central characters are David Balfour, a Lowland Whig, and Alan Breck Stewart, a Highland Jacobite. The novel revolves around their friendship and their differences, suggesting a metaphor for Scotland itself. Stevenson wrote the sequel Catriona with the title David Balfour, but during serialisation in England the public became confused, thinking it might be a reprint of Kidnapped. At publisher Cassell's request, the title was changed to Catriona, after Balfour's daughter.
The real life adventures of author Robert Louis Stevenson rival those of his famous fictional characters. Born into a strictly religious, middle-class Edinburgh family, he later rebelled and refused to follow his father into the lighthouse construction business, opting instead for a literary career and marriage to Fanny, the love of his life and a crack-shot American divorcee. His travels took him to France, America and the South Pacific. Stevenson was an atheist and free spirit—in Samoa, where he died, he fought in a civil war for independence. In 1886, the blockbuster novel Kidnapped was published—a dramatic adventure of abduction and life on the run in the wilds of Scotland. Stevenson died in 1894, just 44 years old. The Samoan natives, who were devoted to Stevenson, cut a track through the jungle to create a resting place for him on top of the mountain above his beloved Vailima estate.
Did you find this review helpful?