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When Doug & Alice moved to Paris in 1992, Alice gave me a fancy coat, a hand-me-down from Lita Hornick, & a book of Troubador poems; Doug gave me a set of the works of Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94), 26 volumes published by Charles Scribner's Sons in 1903. As with the Encyclopedia Britannica, I know that I could get the complete Stevenson on my iPod for a buck or 2, but these are beautiful & pristine and make me wonder who else besides Doug ever opened them.

Stevenson, by the way, is a really good writer, who had pretty enlightened politics. Yesterday in Across the Plains, he deplored the prejudice against the Chinese ("Their forefathers watched the stars before mine had begun to keep pigs") and Indians ("a chapter of injustice and indignity such as a man must be in some ways base if his heart will suffer him to pardon or forget").

I opened a random volume just now to this:
Next morning I took the road in a new order. The sack was no longer doubled, but hung at full length across the saddle, a green sausage six feet long with a tuft of blue wool hanging out of either end. It was more picturesque, it spared the donkey, and, as I began it see, it would insure stability, blow high, blow low. (Our Lady of the Snows)

Different volume, almost equally random:
Thoreau had decided, it would seem, from the very first to lead a life of self-improvement: the needle did not tremble as with richer natures, but pointed steadily north; and as he saw duty and inclination in one, he turned all his strength in that direction. He was met upon the threshold by a common difficulty, in this world, in spite of its many agreeable features, even the most sensitive must undergo some drudgery to live. (Familiar Stories of Men and Books)
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