ENCOMIUMS FOR RLS
Among the authors I have always read and, willy-nilly, have taken as a model is R. L. Stevenson. This is because Stevenson himself wrote the books he would have liked to read, because he, who was so delicate an artist, imitated old adventure stories and then relived them himself. To him, writing meant translating an invisible text containing the quintessential fascination of all adventures, all mysteries, all conflicts of will and passion scattered throughout the books of hundreds of writers; it meant translating them into his own precise and almost impalpable prose, into his own rhythm which was like that of dance-steps at once impetuous and controlled. (Stevenson's admirers are a chosen few in all literatures; J. L. Borges is the most eminent of them.)...aaand breathe out. From Italo Calvino's introduction to Our Ancestors, translated by Archibald Colquhoun.
Stevenson's greatest charm, in a literary sense, is the personal relation he establishes with the reader; he shares with Montaigne, Sterne and Oliver Wendell Holmes this rarest and most endearing of qualities. Once he comes into a household, no matter how unobtrusively, he is apt to stay. He brings a genial and comforting presence; he is helpful, brave and kindly; one is the better for an hour passed in his smiling company, and he takes on, in a very actual way, the aspect of a friend. It is noteworthy that his collected editions sell mostly to people of very modest means - which is to say, to struggling people; hard-working, ill-paid people; people richer in cultivation and refinement than in money; who turn to him in fellow-feeling for solace and fortitude. And to these I should like to say that the real man, the real Stevenson, was no other than as they regard him [...]From Lloyd Osbourne's introduction to New Arabian Nights, vol. 1 of the Tusitala edition.
DOCTOR LECTER, I PRESUME
[He] had keenly enjoyed the Colonel's amazement and disgust. He had the vanity of wickedness; and it pleased him to see another man give way to a generous movement, while he felt himself in his entire corruption, superior to such emotions.From The Suicide Club: Story of the Young Man with the Cream Tarts, by RLS.