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Descripción de editorial
It was the happy fortune of Robert Louis Stevenson to have created beyond any man of his craft in our day a body of readers inspired with the feelings that we for the most part place at the service only of those for whom our affection is personal. There was no one who knew the man, one may safely assert, who was not also devoted to the writer—conforming in this respect to a general law (if law it be) that shows us many exceptions; but, naturally and not inconveniently, it had to remain far from true that all devotees of the writer were able to approach the man. The case was nevertheless that the man somehow approachedthem, and that to read him—certainly to read him with the full sense of his charm—came to mean for many persons much the same as to “meet” him. It was as if he wrote himself outright and altogether, rose straight to the surface of his prose, and still more of his happiest verse; so that these things gave out, besides whatever else, his look and motions and voice, showed his life and manners, all that there was of him, his “tremendous secrets” not excepted. We grew in short to possess him entire, and the example is the more curious and beautiful as he neither made a business of “confession” nor cultivated most those forms through which the ego shines. His great successes were supposititious histories of persons quite different from himself, and the objective, as we have learned to call it, was the ideal to which he oftenest sacrificed.
The effect of it all none the less was such that his Correspondence has only seemed to administer delightfully a further push to a door already half open and through which we enter with an extraordinary failure of any sense of intrusion. We feel indeed that we are living with him, but what is that but what we were doing before? Through his Correspondence certainly the ego does, magnificently, shine—which is much the best thing that in any correspondence it can ever do. But even the “Vailima Letters,” published by Mr. Sidney Colvin in 1895, had already both established that and allayed our diffidence. “It came over me the other day suddenly that this diary of mine to you would make good pickings after I am dead, and a man could make some kind of book out of it without much trouble. So, for God’s sake, don’t lose them.”
Being on these terms with our author, and feeling as if we had always been, we profit by freedoms that seem but the consecration of intimacy. Not only have we no sense of intrusion, but we are so prepared to penetrate further that when we come to limits we quite feel as if the story were mutilated and the copy not complete. There it is precisely that we seize the secret of our tie. Of course it was personal, for how did it operate in any connection whatever but to make us live with him? We had lived with him in “Treasure Island,” in “Kidnapped” and in “Catriona,” just as we do, by the light of these posthumous volumes, in the South Seas and at Vailima; and our present confidence comes from the fact of a particularly charming continuity. It is not that his novels were “subjective,” but that his life was romantic, and in the very same degree in which his own conception, his own presentation, of that element touches and thrills. If we want to know even more it is because we are always and everywhere in the story.