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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Talk's cheap ... and the spice of life

“Fiction is to the grown man what play is to the child; it is there that he changes the atmosphere and tenor of his life.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Born on this day in 1850, Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer Stevenson’s most famous and enduring works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and A Child's Garden of Verses.  The first stands up as one of the great adventure “thrillers” of all time, and the latter as one of the most delightful ways to spend time with your young child, enjoying the love of good rhyme and the great things about which the rhymes are written.

Since writing my historical novel And The Wind Whispered, I’ve enjoyed getting to know a fellow historical writer, Mark Wiederanders of Sacramento, Calif., who has further brought the remarkable Stevenson back to life for me.  If you haven’t read Wiederanders’ Stevenson’s Treasure, I highly recommend it to you.  A really terrific book.

On this date of Stevenson’s birth, I remember reading his insightful quote about writing:  “The difficulty of literature is not to write, but to write what you mean; not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish.”  I would say that he overcame the difficulty and affected us very well indeed.
A noted travel writer, Stevenson was a great                     
conversationalist and traveling companion.  “Talk is by far the most accessible of pleasures,” he noted.   “It costs nothing in money, it is all profit, it completes our education, founds and fosters our friendships, and can be enjoyed at any age and in almost any state of health.  All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.”

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