Technical language in novels, rare in itself, is still more rarely interpreted. Focusing on Robert Louis Stevenson’s bildungsromans, in this essay I argue that a technical maritime lexicon marks their protagonists’ accession to maturity. But that lexicon and the love for the world it attests to and demands also forces a redefinition of what it means to be mature, offering an open, adventurous, never-to-be completed Bildung that refuses the stasis of marriage or a settled profession.
Technical Maturity in Robert Louis Stevenson
Cannon Schmitt teaches English at the University of Toronto. The author of Alien Nation: Nineteenth-Century Gothic Fictions and English Nationality (1997) and Darwin and the Memory of the Human: Evolution, Savages, and South America (2009, paperback reprint 2013), he is currently at work on the Victorian novel, the sea, and the literal.
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Cannon Schmitt; Technical Maturity in Robert Louis Stevenson. Representations 1 February 2014; 125 (1): 54–79. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/rep.2014.125.1.54
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