Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Thursday, January 6, 2011

"The Yellow Paint" by Robert Louis Stevenson

"The Yellow Paint" by Robert Louis Stevenson (1896, 3 pages)

Last year I read and posted on Robert Louis Stevenson's Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde.    Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde created a character (or characters) that are known to millions who have never read the book and probably have never heard of  the author.     In this work Stevenson (1850 to 1894-Edinburgh, Scotland) has tapped into something universal in the human experience almost everyone can relate to-dealing with dualities of good and evil within yourself.     I really enjoyed this work and wanted to read other works by Stevenson.    His other most famous works are Kidnapped and Treasure Island.   Many love his travel writings.

I was happy today to see that East of the Web was featuring a very short story by Stevenson, "The Yellow Paint".    The story is in the O Henry/Saki short story mode though I think most would say he was a better writer than either of these two(this is not a cut on Saki-who I am starting to quite like-or O Henry).    

1896 was a time when "Patent Medicine" was very popular.   These were bromides guaranteed to protect against all illness.    "The Yellow Paint" opens with these lines:

In a certain city there lived a physician who sold yellow paint. This was of so singular a virtue that whoso was bedaubed with it from head to heel was set free from the dangers of life, and the bondage of sin, and the fear of death for ever.

At first the young man the story centers on sees the paint sold by the doctor as just another fraud.   Then two months latter his close friend dies in an accident and the young man goes back and gets himself painted.   I do not want to tell any more of this marvelous story.   Stevenson does a lot with just three pages.    I think anyone who has read and enjoyed one of his canon status works will be happy they took the few minutes this story will require of them.  


I can for sure see Stevenson's main works, at least Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, being read 200 years from now on space ships!    I am confident Klingons would relate well to his main work..

It can be read online.


Mystica said...

I just read about a book called The Yellow Wallpaper and now this! Sounds intriguing.

Anonymous said...

On my way to follow the link! Thanks!

Mel u said...

Mystica-I read the story "The Yellow Wall Paper" not long ago and posted on it-it is a very powerful story

emeire-thanks very much for your visit