Robert Louis Stevenson’s South Seas Writing: Its Production and Context within the Victorian Study of Culture

Ratnapalan, Laavanyan. 2007. Robert Louis Stevenson’s South Seas Writing: Its Production and Context within the Victorian Study of Culture. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

The thesis is split into two parts. The first part investigates the production, reception, and reconstruction of Robert Louis Stevenson's South Seas writing during his travels there in the years 1888-91, and its subsequent publication as In the South Seas in 1896. The second part concentrates on the findings that Stevenson makes during his Pacific travels in respect of the discourses of culture that shape the academic sciences of his day.

The writing that Stevenson produces for his 'Big Book' on the cultures of the Pacific Islands is among the least-examined of all his works. His book of travel, In the South Seas, is published posthumously and contains material that is presented in a way that is not intended by the author. In the present study the reasons for this situation are investigated, and the work that the author intends to produce is recovered on the basis of the plans, notes, and photographs which remain from the period of his travels. The reconstructed work is then compared with the published volume of In the South Seas to show the extent to which textual mutilation and re-editing has significantly altered the meaning of Stevenson's original writing. In the South Seas is a text that is re-shaped by his editor in order to satisfy what is seen as a Victorian readership's desire for sentimental voyaging.

Stevenson's writing is then read within the context of the Victorian study of culture as represented by Edward Burnett Tylor, to show his engagement with and criticism of some of Tylor's theories. Finally, the South Seas writing is framed within the perspective of Stevenson's reading of GWF Hegel, showing the extent to which his observations on Pacific landscapes and cultures are informed by Hegel's discussion of the antinomies of Immanuel Kant.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00028899

Keywords:

Robert Louis Stevenson, In the South Seas (1896), South Seas, Pacific Islands

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

History

Date:

2007

Item ID:

28899

Date Deposited:

30 Jun 2020 10:53

Last Modified:

30 Jun 2020 10:53

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/28899

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