This Is Not a Map
Maps are not always works of dutiful representation. Sometimes they are tickets to flights of the imagination.
In the melancholy year 1882, Robert Louis Stevenson was 31 years old and in poor health. Though he had published by then, as he modestly said, “little books and little essays”—including Travels With a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879), the immortal tale of his tour through central France—his burning ambition was to write and publish a novel. He had actually begun a great many novels, from the age of 15 on, but none were ever finished. They all seemed to go along for a while, he observed, then suddenly quit, “like a schoolboy’s watch.” Meanwhile, his essays and books earned him not quite £200 in a good year, which was far from enough to support a family. That summer, he and his wife were forced to go and live with Stevenson’s parents in the mountains above Pitlochry, Scotland.
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Max Byrd is a contributing editor of The Wilson Quarterly and the author of nine novels, including Shooting the Sun (2004).more from this author >>