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Title: Out of my country and myself I go : a critical examination of the fiction of Robert Louis Stevenson
Author(s): Clunas, Alexander B.
Issue Date: 1983
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: The idea we have of a literary tradition is not a matter of fixity. In a living language the canon is continually being added to and therefore, to the extent that the tradition is present to us and simultaneous with us, liable to be changed by new work. Fresh contributions, innovative of necessity, realign our picture of the past and, above all, redefine it. Writers, to paraphrase Jorge Luis Borges, create their own ancestors. So it is that a hitherto peripheral writer or a form considered "low" may be reassessed and enlisted in the perpetual struggle with narrative forms. Just this is the case of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94) whose experimental transformations of a number of genres of fiction have an almost exemplary status at the present time. Meanwhile, Vladimir Nabokov's lectures on Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Borges' ubiquitous remarks on the Scots writers illuminate both his work and theirs. ' He is now an ancestor and requires the consideration of all who are interested in the continuing life of storytelling. From the point of view of literary criticism, the shifting tradition consists first and foremost only of literary works and not of a philosophy of literary form or of any ideas originating outside the realm of literature itself. The language which criticism uses to speak about the novel, for example, will derive from specific novels. At the same time it is engaged in selecting those very novels which will constitute its values. The language the critic uses to describe some kinds of fiction can seem absolute, when in actual fact it is simply the case that his language is suitable for describing one kind and is inappropriate to another.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation
Affiliation: School of Arts and Humanities
Literature and Languages

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