Five things I learn about Robert Louis Stevenson from his short stories

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I was biding farewell to Robert Louis Stevenson as I closed the final page of ‘The Treasure of Franchard’, the last piece of his popular short stories anthology a few weeks ago.  Thanks to ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, ‘The Merry Men’, ‘Will O The Mill’, ‘Markheim’, ‘Thrawn Janet, ‘Olalla’ and ‘The Treasure of Franchard’, I gather these following ideas about this beloved Scottish author:

  1. Philosophical and reflective

Reading Robert Louis Stevenson can be a hard task. His works invite me to reflect so much, even when he writes something funny. It’s like watching Adam Sandler’s dark comedy, the kind of laugh that tears my heart because something serious and ironic is in it, too. ‘Will O The Mill’ proves me this. This tells a story about Will, a very generous and kind-hearted person, who spends his lifetime staying in the same place until the day he dies. For me, Will is the type of person who is very close to all of us, the sort of a good-boy-next-door, the man whom you would like to make friends with. He is so nice that he doesn’t fight for the girl that he loves when another man approaches her. His story is very touching, a kind of calm, sombre one that leaves very impressive mark in my reading list.

  1. You reap what you sow

Although wrapped in cheerful tone, ‘The Merry Men’ teaches me a lot of life lessons, each and every thing that I throw will come back to me in abundant ways. Gordon Darnaway, the uncle of Charles Darnaway, is the perfect example of this. From the very beginning of the short story, it prompts me to think how can this old man is very serious about his life. He seems distant and takes everything so heavy. After I read on the part where he murders now I understand that he probably reaps what he sows. He feels uneasy because of the crimes he does before. His life seems unpleasant because he runs away from his guilty for so long. The last scene where he is seen jumping off the sea makes my heart breaks. So ironic for his life.

  1. Oh, the Gothic style

‘Olalla’ brings me back all about Gothic things, the stuff that I learn during my university years. The mysterious, horror, thrilling tones are strongly felt in the story. Although some of key questions remain unanswered, the short story successfully keeps me going completing it. Robert Louis Stevenson is really good at presenting the Gothic idea in it although does not executing it all as smooth as I expect.

  1. ‘Markheim’ proves his work can be unsatisfying

From ‘Markheim’ I learn that even a master like Robert Louis Stevenson can produce deficient writing. I can feel his writing misses a number of scenes. Disorganized. The last scene when Markheim indicates he will surrender himself to the police after a thoughtful conversation with a man doesn’t make any senses to me.

  1. ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ remains his exceptionally masterpiece

‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ is by far his brilliant work, which completely sticks in my heart in different ways despite the fact ‘Of Mice and Men’ is my most favorite book and ‘Wuthering Heights’ is the best novel I have read so far. ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ stands out from the crowd not only because of it tells about someone’s split personality but also because of his very, very subtle language with huge focus on details. This story runs really delicate that if you don’t pay enough attention, big things will slip away.

Thank you Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson!

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Mumbling about ‘Markheim’

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When I firstly read the first few sentences of the short story I thought it would be similar to ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ not because that the story turned out to be a murderer one but it was more because of the setting and simply because of my imagination.

The story was set in the heart of the city. Since the first scene was all about the business transaction between Markheim and the store dealer, a little bit similar with the first view of the famous Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. When I finished the story I found that they told readers about murderers. I am always fascinated by Robert Louis Stevenson’s ideas of putting forth stories about criminals, like Markheim and the other title, because through Robert’s writings I can at least dig deep into what the outcasts’ think about themselves; how do what they do; and what makes them doing so.

At this, I salute the author’s grand idea which brings up the topic of getting in touch with what are called as ‘bad people’. Somehow, ‘Markheim’ was no fun reading if I related it to break the heart of the criminal. Too straight-forwarded. Too naive. Markheim was telling everything about his motives of killing the dealer out of money to a man who was about to enter the room Markheim was in to unlock the drawers’ key. Markheim wasn’t without stories however. His bitter past was pushing him doing this mischievous.

Yet, the way Robert unraveled it all was too linear. So truth to be told, I got bored easily. Another thing that turned me off was the part when Markheim stabbed the dealer. I understood that Markheim was pushed to the limit because the dealer did not want to sell a Christmas gift Markheim was wishing to buy. But the main actor’s way of boiling it up was not smooth.

I felt like a bit of sudden Markheim was pushing the knife into the dealer’s body. He wasn’t that furious though.

So, all in all, I don’t really like the story. It didn’t run well compared to ‘The Merry Men’ and ‘Will O The Mill’. The story was a little bit flat and seemed the writer forced it to be a murder story. Well, that’s just my opinion.

The picture is taken from this.

‘Markheim’ a short story by Robert Louis Stevenson

Markheim enters an antique store. He wishes to buy a Christmas gift for his girlfriend he will soon to marry. The dealer of the store instead offers him a mirror. By the by, the dealer is infuriated with Markheim’s coming from the very beginning. The dealer looks busy and encourages the visitor to cut things short.

Yet Markheim keeps talking to the store seller. He says he doesn’t want the mirror, thinking the gift would insult him in front of his girlfriend. Markheim even offers a friendship with the dealer which definitely meets with an objection. The dealer gets even more furious, asking Markheim to either buy the mirror or leave.

Just when the seller has his emotions heated up, Markheim stabs him from the back. He is now dead. Instead of running away to far places, Markheim goes upstairs. He takes the dealer’s keys, goes into a room wishing he would find abundant amount of money.

But just when he attempts to unlock a drawer, he sees a man standing behind the door of the room Markheim is in. To this man, Markheim says that he has been murdering in the past few years to make ends meet.

This man makes Markheim realizing his mistakes and somehow after he leaves, Markheim goes downstairs then tells the dealer’s servant that he kills his master.

 

Reading canon literature makes me snobbish

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If you were a serious reader like me, I’d like to invite you reading this piece of shit. Whether my personality (a blogger says personality is a shitty affair) affects my reading choice or not, it is no wonder that canon literature or say, novels from Victorian Era, is my thing. I have been reading books from American authors with John Steinbeck as my most favorite one and been enjoying stories from Indian writers, but my heart has never been this happy once it has met novels by Thomas Hardy.

It’s like I and those books have finally found each other. How romantic I sometimes think about this.

It’s funny how serious minds are indeed meant for heavy books. See? Romance is not just for less serious or funny people. Even a distressing person like I can have my own love story.

Many have said that novels from Victorian Era set high benchmarks for literary works. You can’t count how many books by Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy and definitely Charles Dickens have been adapted into movies, theaters or other popular shows. There have also been a lot of critics who say how their writing styles or issues are amazing. If I say their works are ‘difficult’ and ‘challenging’ I bet some will agree with me.

So, what happens after years reading books from this era?

At first, what I have immensely loved by reading the novels are the beauty of words and how skillful those authors in describing things and people. Reading this type of novel is like viewing a very wonderful panorama. Later, I call this reading experience as a sort of relaxing trip. The more I read the more I then learn what makes a good novel. Their stories teach me that good books are about people, about who we really are.

I have taken personal lessons just by reading their stories and I have put them into practice. Reading their books have made me a better person. That’s so true.

I still read books by writers from the era. Currently, I read ‘Markheim’ by Robert Louis Stevenson. As I enjoy more novels, a devilish thing sneaks in. The part of me who yearns for recognition, praise shows up. It is called arrogance.

It has been years that I reject books written not by authors by the period. I’d say because I still want to read classic books but sometimes it is more because I think popular novels are rubbish. If they are easy readings, I have no time for them. That’s my principle.

If you said I am smart or anything let me tell you I actually act naive. It’s like opting something difficult for the sake of ‘being who I truly am’ instead of trying to ‘entertain my soul’ via funny or lighter books.

It’s like why am I addicted to hard things while it’s really not sinful to occasionally read something popular. Why do I keep choosing tough lines over mild ones?

Knowing your reading preference is good, always bright thing to do. But putting barrier or walls over things beyond the preference is what makes your ego running wild. That may shield you away from fantastic stories that probably are in easy books you always underestimate.

The picture is taken from this.