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An Inland Voyage by Robert Louis Stevenson
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An Inland Voyage

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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This was the first book published by RLS - he had earlier writings printed in magazine, but this was his first book.
I read this after reading Travels With a Donkey which was his next work to be published. Both are "travel literature" and both relate the story of rough travels in France - a little like an early backpacker experience - where the discomfort and inconvenience is a necessary part of the story to later told.
I found this work to be less polished than Travels with a Donkey, and when I found it was the earlier piece, I was able to retrospectively see the L-plates on the author. He seems to be trying too hard to impress. But by the second half of the book, I found the writing flowed better, contained more interesting insights, and was generally more pleasing.
A good read, particularly in relation to observing the development of the author.
Read Nov 2015. ( )
  mbmackay | Nov 15, 2015 |
The model for endless subsequent cruising memoirs, but still worth going back to for the freshness and liveliness of RLS's prose. He was a relatively early adopter of the late-Victorian touring canoe craze inspired by MacGregor, and on this trip through Belgian and French rivers he and his travelling companion (quaintly only identified in the text by the name of his boat, the Cigarette) were something of a novelty for the people they encountered, so there's a feeling of exploration even though they are rather close to home. Occasionally he allows himself to be a bit too patronising about working-class French people, but most of the time it's very agreeable to read. ( )
1 vote thorold | May 22, 2012 |
Stevenson delights us with his repertoire of literary magic that turns the most mundane and dreich of journeys into an adventure of spirit, fortitude and natural history. His gift lies in confiding upon his reader the sense of intimacy he enjoyed with the river, the banks, the towns and the fields. ( )
1 vote LesMiserables | Sep 23, 2010 |
Stevenson and a friend travel along the French canals and rivers in canoes for "leisure". Outdoor travel for leisure was unusual for the time and they were often mistaken for traveling salesman, but the novelty of their canoes would occasion entire villages to come out and wave along the river banks. Very well written, Stevenson was a true Romantic. Like many of his works, this one is fairly unique, nothing else he wrote since is quite like it in style or tone. It paints a delightful atmosphere of Europe in a more innocent time with its quirky inn keepers, traveling entertainers and puppeteers, old men who had never left their villages, ramshackle military units parading around with drums and swords, gypsy families who lived on canal barges. ( )
  Stbalbach | Jul 5, 2006 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 159818699X, Paperback)

What am I to say for my book? Caleb and Joshua brought back from Palestine a formidable bunch of grapes; alas! my book produces naught so nourishing; and for the matter of that, we live in an age when people prefer a definition to any quantity of fruit.

I wonder, would a negative be found enticing? for, from the negative point of view, I flatter myself this volume has a certain stamp. Although it runs to considerably upwards of two hundred pages, it contains not a single reference to the imbecility of God's universe, nor so much as a single hint that I could have made a better one myself. -- I really do not know where my head can have been. I seem to have forgotten all that makes it glorious to be man. -- 'Tis an omission that renders the book philosophically unimportant; but I am in hopes the eccentricity may please in frivolous circles.

To the friend who accompanied me I owe many thanks already, indeed I wish I owed him nothing else; but at this moment I feel towards him an almost exaggerated tenderness. He, at least, will become my reader: -- if it were only to follow his own travels alongside of mine.

R.L.S.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:06 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Robert Louis Stevenson was not only a gifted writer; he was also an indefatigable traveller. His thirst for adventure was formed by his boyhood visits to remote Scottish lighthouses, and he spent much of his life fleeing the rigours of cold climes and social orthodoxy. Along the way he travelled through the Cevennes with a donkey, booked passage to and across America, and finally famously settled in Samoa in the South Pacific. The canoeing trip through Belgium and northern France that Stevenson describes in An Inland Voyage was taken in 1876, when the author was 26 years old. Stevenson and his companion, Sir Walter Grindlay Simpson, each had a kayak-style wooden canoe, with a deck and rigged with a sail. Starting in Belgium and then travelling downriver in France from Maubeuge (near Mons) to Pontoise on the outskirts of Paris, the book paints a charming picture of Western Europe at a more innocent time.Travel writing.… (more)

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