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Troubled Inheritances in R. L. Stevenson’s Kidnapped and Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Priory School”

Chapter
Part of the Geocriticism and Spatial Literary Studies book series (GSLS)

Abstract

In “Mr. Stevenson’s Methods of Fiction” (The National Review, January 1890), Conan Doyle commended his contemporary’s The Master of Ballantrae (1889), while surveying his short stories and novels to date. Conan Doyle traces the shadow of George Meredith on Stevenson’s writing, demonstrating how effectively Stevenson employs a number of stylistic devices, including adjectives, similes, and repetitions; examines the concision and concentration of his prose style; and shows how he progenated, in characters including Hyde, Pew, Black Dog, and Long John Silver, the mutilated villain. In this chapter, I begin by analysing Conan Doyle’s claims about the form and content of Stevenson’s fiction. Conan Doyle recognises the modern masculine novel, which Stevenson’s exemplify, as a “reaction against the abuse of love in fiction” (652). Taking Conan Doyle’s observation as a point of departure, I argue that the writers’ concerns regarding inheritance are closely married to the form of their works. I juxtapose Stevenson’s Kidnapped (1886) and Conan Doyle’s “The Adventure of the Priory School” (1904), two stories whence inheritance plots are frustrated by abduction ones, to explore their understandings of legacies.

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am enormously grateful to Noel Brown, John James, Monika Szuba, and Julian Wolfreys for their incisive reading and productive interlocution, and to my students at Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto Scarborough, with whom I have discussed a number of Conan Doyle’s works. I thank Christine Bolus-Reichert, Ian Duncan, Daniel Stashower, and Simon Stern for their help and encouragement and, for their assistance, Lindsay McNiff, Frank Tong, and the staff of Dalhousie University Libraries and the University of Toronto Libraries. This paper was written with the support of Dalhousie University, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the University of Toronto Scarborough.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Ue
    • 1
  1. 1.Dalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

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