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South Sea Tales

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3.64  ·  Rating details ·  669 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
'This is to certify that Uma Daughter of Fa'avao of Falesá island of ---, is illegally married to Mr John Wiltshire for one night, and Mr John Wiltshire is at liberty to send her to hell next morning.'

The literary world was shocked when in 1890, at the height of his career, Robert Louis Stevenson announced his intention to settle permanently in Samoa. His readers were equa
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Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 336 pages
Published November 11th 1999 by Oxford University Press (first published 1896)
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Daenerys
Sep 26, 2011 rated it liked it
This book is actually a combination of two different books, and as such the stories are clearly divided into two categories, that of realist colonialist critique and that of the exotic fable. For some reason I don't really understand, the two categories are not divided into two parts of the book, instead one alternates with the other.

The realist stories are interesting in their rendering of colonial attitudes towards the native islanders (I will refer to them with this term because Stevenson ra
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Terry Cornell
Aug 26, 2017 rated it liked it
A collection of eight short stories, all taking place in the South Seas. Most involve sailing ships, hurricanes, and the collection of natives to work various enterprises in the islands during the early 20th Century. A really quick read, most of the stories are exciting with hard to predict endings. Some may be offended by some characters in the stories using the 'n' word to describe native islanders, but was true to some people living in the time and place. Jack London certainly was not a racis ...more
Manuel Alfonseca
Nov 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Interesting account of Stevenson's journey through the islands of the Pacific Ocean. It's much better written than Martin Johnson's book on the same subject and describes in much more detail his adventures among the Polynesians.
Comparing both books, it is surprising how much things changed in just 15 years.
Gavin
Feb 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
Stevenson's relation of his experiences aboard a yacht cruising through the South Seas. The sequences about cannibal high places are stuck in my mind forever. He has a way of bringing alive the ocean and its islands like no other author I've read.
Evan
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it
These stories are charming and captivating, if you can find them under Stevenson's clipped and colloquial style. And I am surprised that The Ebb-Tide, with its melodramatic plot, hasn't been made into a film.
Mandy
Feb 27, 2016 added it
Shelves: ou-a230, read-in-2015
So racist, sickeningly so. I did not know whether Stevenson was giving his colonial opinion, or representing others holding that opinion in order to show how inhumane that thinking is. I rather lean to the latter, but maybe only from hope that it was so.
Antonio Martín
Mar 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
If you can't travel, take a trip, read this novel/experience.
Eduardo Rodríguez
May 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I didn't care for Treasure Island or Dr. Jekill, but these South See stories are great. Too bad Steveson died when he was getting good...
Tracy Sallis
I read this book for my university final. It definitely isn't what I would usually enjoy, but I didn't hate it.
Ginny_1807
Sep 10, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In genere non amo i libri di viaggi, li trovo aridi e tediosi.
Ma quando a narrare è uno scrittore come Stevenson anche il più oggettivo resoconto geografico prende vita e si carica di significato, rivelando intimi echi dell'animo dell'autore e dando luogo a un prodotto letterario di prima qualità. Così me lo sono gustato dalla prima all'ultima pagina.

"Un poco più tardi, lo stesso giorno, vedemmo, in condizioni migliori, l'isola di Taiaro. Perduta nel mare, forse questo vuol dire il suo nome. Ed
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James
Jul 24, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-adventure
Tahiti was the setting for Herman Melville’s Omoo, published in 1847. This was the second of Melville’s novels — a sequel to Typee and so a second “Peep at Polynesian Life.” While both of his books were popular, another of my favorite authors also wrote eloquently of his travels including Tahiti. While he had previously travelled with a donkey, Robert Louis Stevenson in 1888 travelled to Tahiti, and after two more voyages settled in the Samoan Islands for the remainder of his life. It was from h ...more
rosamund
Jan 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This collection contains two novellas, "The Ebb Tide" and The Beach of Falseá, which are realistic fiction dealing with themes of imperialism and corruption. It also contains several short stories, which are set in the Pacific islands, and have fantasy themes. Stevenson's work written while he lived in the Pacific was unpopular at the time of writing because it is profoundly anti-imperialist. Stories that showed Pacific Islanders as complex people capable of governing themselves, who had been ab ...more
Susanna
Sep 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this for an Independent Study class I am working on about European narratives about the South Pacific at the turn of the century.

Update 2013:
I reread this book this summer because it has been fundamental to my research interests. I ended up writing a paper on "The Beach of Falesa" and using it as my writing sample for my PhD applications. Now I think that I am going to write about these stories in my dissertation.

These stories are weird, and that's why I like them. They're not like
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John Brissette
Dec 19, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An almost two century old travel blog! Amazing.

I picked this up as I am a frequent traveler to Polynesia & have adopted the islands as a second home. I was intending it to be an almost "required reading" type read. What it was, as Stevenson's end of life memoir of his travels is an amazingly modern feeling record of his travels that is almost blog like and fresh despite being nearly two centuries old. It reads almost like something you'd see a modern travel writer like Bourdain do & per
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Barry H. Wiley
The islanders often said that of the European writers/artists of the South Seas, only Stevenson and Gauguin actually understood them. This collection of Stevenson's shorter South Seas fiction is an excellent intro to RLS's longer works, both fiction and non-fiction, on Samoa (or Navigator's Island as it was called), the surrounding islands and -- most specifically, the remarkable people. Stevenson well earned the sobriquet "the Presbyterian Pirate".
This work includes a very good introduction,
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Cary
Nov 25, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Having lived in Hawaii as a US Air Force police man. I really came to love the Polynesian Islands. This is another great collection of books about South Pacific around the late 1800's to the turn of the century. How wonderful it must have been. Stevenson certainly thought so. He lived in Samoa until his death and was much repected by the local population.
Fritz Galt
Apr 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Robert Louis Stevenson has the right word for everything, and the right observations of every new culture he encounters on his trips around the Pacific. He captures people just before and during the invasion of traders to their islands. A remarkable anthropological and personal account.
Cait
Preferred the shorter stories, really didn't like 'The Ebb Tide', it was really long.

'The Bottle Imp' was my favourite.

Liked the fantasy element to the stories.

Got a real sense of the setting. Made me want to watch films set in Hawaii.
Sean
Nov 17, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: victorian
Tales set in the South Seas, the first is a bit long, but the last two are very quick reads and progressively more fantastic, and all are interesting.
Dianne
Jan 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
The bottle Imp was fun but I found the others dull and too male driven. Men are boring - I want something different.
Esther Hong
Mar 04, 2011 rated it liked it
Would've given it 4 stars if not for "The Ebb-Tide"...uggggghhhhh (shudders).
Paul Jellinek
Sep 06, 2011 rated it it was amazing
A long way from the British Isles where Stevenson's better-known works take place, but every bit as well written and compelling. Highly reecommended.
Deborah
Entertaining, though a bit disturbing to consider the different morality and motives of people of that place and time. So I'm glad I was exposed to it.
Joy
Nov 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was interesting to see what travel to the islands was like back in the 1800's.
Charlene Forbes
This wasn't really for me but it for works well with the course I had to read it for
Robin
Nov 23, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This man is so interesting, and so ahead of his time.
Wondra Vanian
I dislike island fiction so I was turned off this book before I even picked it up. It was a chore to read.
Neil
Mar 23, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I literally only got about 10 pages in before I gave up. Badly written, racist, boring.
mytree
rated it liked it
Apr 01, 2014
Spoon Speechley
rated it really liked it
Jan 01, 2017
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Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson was a Scottish novelist, poet, and travel writer, and a leading representative of English literature. He was greatly admired by many authors, including Jorge Luis Borges, Ernest Hemingway, Rudyard Kipling and Vladimir Nabokov.

Most modernist writers dismissed him, however, because he was popular and did not write within their narrow definition of literature. It is onl
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More about Robert Louis Stevenson...
“For the cocoa-tree and the island man are both lovers and neighbours of the surf.  ‘The coral waxes, the palm grows, but man departs,’ says the sad Tahitian proverb; but they are all three, so long as they endure, co-haunters of the beach.  The” 1 likes
“After the moon went down, the heaven was a thing to wonder at for stars. ” 1 likes
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