chapter  1
58 Pages

“Talk languished on the beach”: The Possibility of Reciprocity in Robert Louis Stevenson’s In the South Seas

On 6 April, 1889, during a six month stay in Hawai’i, Robert Louis Stevenson provided the following description of his lodgings, in a letter to Adelaide Boodle:

[t]he buildings stand in three groups by the edge of the beach. [ . . . ] The first is a small house [ . . . ] All about the walls [are] our South Sea curiosities, war clubs, idols, pearl shells, stone axes, etc; [ . . . ] The next group of buildings is ramshackle and quite dark; [ . . . ] you go in, and find photography, tubs of water, negatives steeping, a tap, and a chair and an ink-bottle, [ . . . ] right opposite the studio door you have observed a third little house [ . . . ] [where you will find] one Squire busy writing to yourself [ . . . ] The house is not bare; it has been inhabited by Kanakas and (you know what children they are!) the bare wood walls are pasted over with pages from the Graphic, Harper’s Weekly, etc. [ . . . ]; on the panels [ . . . ] a sheet of paper is pinned up, and covered with writing. I cull a few plums.