The paper compares two works by Robert Louis Stevenson: the essay ‘François Villon: Student, Poet, Housebreaker’ and the short story ‘A Lodging for the Night’, both written in 1877, at a very early stage of Stevenson’s career. Both works deal with the fifteenth century poet François Villon, the first poète maudit of French literature. Stevenson was both attracted and repelled by Villon, and in both texts the poet stands out as a highly ambivalent figure. A comparison between these two works allows us to observe with clarity the different attitudes, literary strategies and narrative voices that Stevenson deploys in his essays and in his fiction respectively. More importantly, the close relationship between the essay and the short story allows us to make some guesses as to why Stevenson decided to interrogate a complex figure such as Villon by using two different approaches simultaneously, and on the contrasting imperatives of morality and ambiguity that characterise Stevenson’s writing as a whole. In addition, the short story and the essay bring to light some revealing analogies with Bertolt Brecht, an admirer of both Stevenson and Villon.

The playwright, the moralist and the poet: a Brechtian reading of Stevenson’s writings on François Villon

Lucio De Capitani
2015-01-01

Abstract

The paper compares two works by Robert Louis Stevenson: the essay ‘François Villon: Student, Poet, Housebreaker’ and the short story ‘A Lodging for the Night’, both written in 1877, at a very early stage of Stevenson’s career. Both works deal with the fifteenth century poet François Villon, the first poète maudit of French literature. Stevenson was both attracted and repelled by Villon, and in both texts the poet stands out as a highly ambivalent figure. A comparison between these two works allows us to observe with clarity the different attitudes, literary strategies and narrative voices that Stevenson deploys in his essays and in his fiction respectively. More importantly, the close relationship between the essay and the short story allows us to make some guesses as to why Stevenson decided to interrogate a complex figure such as Villon by using two different approaches simultaneously, and on the contrasting imperatives of morality and ambiguity that characterise Stevenson’s writing as a whole. In addition, the short story and the essay bring to light some revealing analogies with Bertolt Brecht, an admirer of both Stevenson and Villon.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/10278/3702554
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