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As an attempt at a complete 'collected works', some of portions of this massive collection are of greater interest than others; many of Stevenson's writings, of course, are easily available elsewhere.
Stevenson is, from our point of view, largely remembered as a writer of adventure novels for boys and young men, and books such a Treasure Island and Kidnapped are included in this series. Another of his famous and still-read books, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, has found its way into the language of popular culture, frequently used by people who don't recognize the source as something they should have read in 10th grade.
Where the series becomes particularly interesting is in the less well known writings, which often help provide background to his better-known books. 'Island Night's Entertainments', which share volume #15 with the enjoyable 'The Wrong Box', comes from his travels in the exotic South Seas (as Hawai'i was considered once, before it became a five hour flight to half the honeymoons in America).
Of much greater interest is his "Father Damien: An Open Letter to the Reverend Dr. Ed Hyde of Honolulu". Dr. Hyde was a Presbyterian missionary at a time when Presbyterian and other Protestant missionaries were, along with American corporate interests such as Dole, laying the groundwork for Hawai'i (at the time an independent island Kingdom ruled by King Kamehameha-- both the King and Queen were practicing Anglicans) to be taken over as an American colony-- although the term wasn't used, of course-- Americans wouldn’t do such a thing!
While Stevenson was in Hawai'i from Scotland in 1890, the Rev. Hyde viciously attacked the memory of Father Damian, the Belgian Roman Catholic priest who had volunteered to spend his life working at the leper colony on Molokai, where he did truly amazing work for many years before himself contracting the disease and finally dying of it (he has recently been sainted by the Vatican). Father Damian, the Rev. Hyde wrote in a public letter to the Rev. H.B. Gage, was “coarse, dirty”, and brought on his leprosy “through his own carelessness”.
Stevenson, himself a Presbyterian, proceeded to spend more than a week taking copious notes at the leper colony on Molokai, as well as interviewing prominent Protestants throughout Hawai’i. He then wrote a scathing criticism of the Rev. Hyde: "But, sir, when we have failed, and another has succeeded; when we have stood by, and another has stepped in; when we sit and grow bulky in our charming mansions, and a plain, uncouth peasant steps into the battle, under the eyes of God, and succours the afflicted, and consoles the dying, and is himself afflicted in his turn, and dies upon the field of honour - the battle cannot be retrieved as your unhappy irritation has suggested. It is a lost battle, and lost for ever. One thing remained to you in your defeat - some rags of common honour; and these you have made haste to cast away." His letter is much longer—although called “An Open Letter” and published as such in Honolulu papers, it was far longer than any 20th or 21st Century paper would allow—and goes on to say, "If that world at all remember you, on the day when Damien of Molokai shall be named a Saint, it will be in virtue of one work: your letter to the Reverend H. B. Gage."
This volume is worth buying if only for this Open Letter: we have lost the ability to be so brilliantly, politely, scathing. Now we simply cast insults and swear words, and get nervous should anyone threaten polysyllabic discourse.
And, of course, this 15 th (!) Volume is worth having for its example of future-reading: Father Damian, the Leper-Saint of Molokai has indeed been declared a by the Roman Catholic Church (and is honored by many Orthodox and Anglicans as well), whilst the Rev. Dr Ed Hyde is remembered not at all, save by those who have read Stevenson’s “Open Letter”.
For this piece alone, the book is worth owning