By HILLEL ITALIE
AP National Writer
NEW YORK—–Robert Louis Stevenson is the author of “Treasure Island” and “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” some of the most thrilling stories in literary history. But in a newly discovered essay, he says he was often bored by the fiction of his day.
“In the trash that I have no doubt you generally read, a vast number of people will probably get shot and stabbed and drowned; and you have only a very slight excitement for your money,” Stevenson wrote.
“But if you want to know what a murder really is – to have a murder brought right home to you – you must read of one in the writings of a great writer. Read `Macbeth,’ for example, or still better, get someone to read it aloud to you; and I think I can promise you what people call a `sensation.'”
Robert Louis Stevenson also published a book entitled Essays in the Art of Writing in 1905 covering the technical aspect of writing. He is also known for A Child’s Garden of Verses. The prolific author also wrote many other non-fiction works such as In the South Seas written during the declining period of his life.
Stevenson’s criticisms appear in a brief, long-lost essay published Friday in The Strand Magazine, a quarterly based in Birmingham, Mich. that has published obscure texts by Mark Twain, Graham Greene and other famous authors.
Apparently part of a larger work, the piece is titled “Books and Reading. No 2. How books have to be written.” The Strand managing editor Andrew Gulli said that essay “No. 1” was auctioned off in 1914, 20 years after the author’s death, and never seen again. No. 2 turned up recently at a location very far from Stevenson’s native Scotland – the library at Syracuse University.
“There are several guesses as to who it was meant for and why it was not published,” Gulli said during a recent interview. “One guess is that it was sent to his stepson Sam or it could have been prepared for a young adult magazine called Young Folks but it was never published in that magazine.”
In you are in Shelbyville, Kentucky on March 21-23, you can the Western Hills High School production of “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” in the school auditorium.
A Robert Louis Stevenson controversy was raised in England in February where multimillionaire Debbie Dove took heat for plans to dig up a garden once owned by Stevenson to install an underground spa for her daughters in London.