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The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Kidnapped

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KIDNAPPED, by Robert Louis Stevenson, purports to be, as the subtitle sets forth, the “Memoirs of the adventures of David Balfour in the year 1751; how he was kidnapped and cast away; his sufferings in a desert isle; his journey in the wild Highlands; his acquaintance with Alan Breck Stewart and other notorious Highland Jacobites; with all that he suffered at the hands of his uncle, Ebenezer Balfour of Shaws, falsely so called.” This romance, with a hero bearing a name taken from his own family tree, Stevenson declares to be the only one of his books in which “the characters took the bit in their teeth” and spoke and acted out the story for themselves. “I began it,” he confesses, “partly as a lark, partly as a pot-boiler, and suddenly it moved, David and Alan stepped out from the canvas, and I found I was in another world.” Because of the author's illness, the story, published in 1886, was broken off short with the return of the hero and the discomfiture of the wicked uncle. It was concluded in a sequel published in 1893 under the name of ‘David Balfour’ in the United States, and ‘Catriona’ in Great Britain. ‘Kidnapped’ owed its success largely to the admirable portrayal of the Highlander, Alan Breck. Matthew Arnold was delighted with it, and Andrew Lang pronounced it “a volume containing more of the spirit of Scott than any other in English fiction.”

Arthur Guiterman.