A Rather Odd, Exotic, Theatrical Kind of Man
From ‘Stevenson among the Philistines’, Temple Bar, 122 (Feb 1901) 205–9. Following the Stevensons’ return to Scotland in October 1880, and the ordeal of meeting Louis’s parents and friends, which Fanny managed successfully, the couple spent two periods in Davos, where Louis was treated by Dr Karl Ruedi at his clinic for consumptives. Stevenson dedicated Underwoods to Ruedi — ‘the good genius of the English in his frosty mountains’. Stevenson wrote little in his first stay, although Virginibus Puerisque was seen through the press. In the second period, however, he wrote The Silverado Squatters (1883), finished Treasure Island (1883), and managed 90 pages for the Cornhill He wrote to Alexander Japp: ‘My wicked carcase, as John Knox calls it, holds together wonderfully … I begin to hope I may, if not outlive this wolverine upon my shoulders, at least carry him bravely like Symonds and Alexander Pope’ (Letters, I, 237). Vallings, who later wrote popular novels, was fairly representative of the stolid, middle-class types Stevenson was most anxious to keep away from, but the merit of this recollection during March 1881 was precisely in its commonplace perspective. For further detail on this period see W. G. Lockett, Robert Louis Stevenson at Davos (1934).
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