- Publisher: Thomas Allen & Son, Limited (2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0887621384
- ISBN-13: 978-0887621383
- Product Dimensions: 16 x 1.5 x 18.9 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,990,212 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Stevenson under the Palm Trees Hardcover – 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
Set around Stevenson's home in the village of Vailima, on the Samoan island of Upolu, it relies upon the same concept of duality that Stevenson himself utilises in The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Other Tales of Terror (Penguin Classics). In the book, Stevenson meets a Scottish missionary, a rather odious man called Mr Baker, on the beach and finds himself caught up in a religious and ideological battle against Baker's Puritanical sensibilities. But all is not quite as it seems, and the reader is left to figure out who is wreaking havoc upon the Samoan islanders - Stevenson or Baker?
It was interesting to learn about the end of Stevenson's life, and how the local villagers welcomed him into their community. The vibrancy of the culture is vividly evoked in spare, finely honed prose; the flowers, the music, the sensuality of Samoan life come alive under Manguel's pen through careful snapshots of imagery and description. There are some interesting moments as Stevenson and Baker argue about dreams, reality and the nature of religion, though I found them a little obtuse at times.Read more ›
It's a story based on Stevenson's last days in Samoa as he is dying of tuberculosis. After his meeting with a newly arrived Scottish missionary, bad things start to happen and Stevenson is drawn into the events in a way such that in his ill state he can't be sure what's happening.
A powerful and slightly strange little story that echoes RLS's own work. Interesting but I would have preferred a longer novel or collection of stories.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Although I was subjected to this type of literature at school,as were most others,it was not something that enthralled me;and by no means contributed to my present love of books and reading. I was fortunate to have had a father who ,although he never had the opportunity to go to college,also had a great love of reading.He knew nothing of the classics,but had a great interest in politics and subscribed to "Hansard" the proceedings of the House of Commons of Canada. He read all these proceedings for about 40 years. Since there is a tremendous amount of information placed there,"for the record";he had acquired a vast amount of knowledge on many subjects. I doubt if Manguel ever read anthing from Hansard. My point is,that the love of reading is very personal, in what one reads.
This little tome about "Stevenson" was not particularly the type of thing I am attracted to ;so I ,in no way want to say it is good or bad.I am sure some will find it exceptionally good;but others ,like me,will just feel that it doesnt't "ring my bell".
It's been said "all novels fall into one of two themes;a man went on a journey or a stranger came to town".This seems to be the latter.
I don't want to make light of this little short story or novella;but if I were to think back on it a year or so from now ;I might be left with a couple of thoughts.Either,be careful of who you meet up with under a palm tree; or, make sure you know where your hat is.
As an aside; Alberto Manguel no longer resides in Canada,as stated on the dust jaket.He Now lives in France and was named an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters. Although I was less than enthused with this book;I will be anxiously anticipating more from him on "Books About Books" in the future.
As a story based on the "double" or "doppelganger" theme, Manguel's book can be located in the literary neighborhood of Poe's "William Wilson," Chekhov's "The Black Monk," and Dostoyevsky's "The Double." However, the story never does anything very unique to create an atmosphere of unease, nor does it travel deep enough into its characters or themes to rank with the best stories of this sort, such as Conrad's "The Secret Sharer" and "Heart of Darkness" or Gustav Meyrink's "The Golem" and "The Green Face"--let alone that masterwork of Stevenson's which Manguel obviously hopes to evoke, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Perhaps it is the fact that this long story, or short-ish novella, is bound between hardcovers that one expects something of greater weight and significance.