“Kidnapped” by Robert Louis Stevenson

March 26, 2010


One of the aspects of a well written story that I love the most is the allowance of empathy for the characters within.  Be it film, song, literature, theater, or any other conceivable manner of art, the act of feeling in myself the emotions that a character feels, and understanding who they are, not just cognitively, but deep down inside my soul really knowing them is an experience that I find particularly thrilling.  As a follower of Jesus and someone who generally spends a great deal of time in thought, I often can’t help but ponder the spiritual nature of people and of myself (especially of myself in light of the emotions and thoughts I have experienced by way of characters in a story), and I often come to realize that things I always assumed I know are maybe not so easy to understand when I actually engage with them:  sometimes it’s in the form of seeing that people I would otherwise demonize and subconsciously think of as less than human are actually less of monsters then I am; sometimes it’s just in the form of being challenged to consider how I view other people in relation to myself.

On the other hand, sometimes a good story is simply fun and exciting, engaging nothing more than a sense of adventure, and that’s exactly what kind of story Stevenson manages to create in Kidnapped.  It’s a tale of adventure and danger and survival against all odds and all that great stuff.  It didn’t leave me pondering any deep spiritual truths, but it did allow for me to let my imagination free, and, for an hour a day or so, go to a different century with different lingo and customs and just enjoy myself.  Concerning how the story is written, there were definitely some parts where it progressed rather slowly and began to get boring, and there were also parts that he breezed by more quickly than I would have liked–I wonder if that is a comment on my own cultural need for quick paced action or simply Stevenson’s method of constructing a story?  Either way, it is such occurrences as those that made Kidnapped a bit less enthralling than I think it could have been.  The story itself I thought was wonderful and charming; I would have preferred the pace to be a bit different.  Overall, I’m glad to have read Kidnapped, simply because of the experience of the thrill of reading a good story.  I’m sure the day will come when I read it again, but it’s not one that I will find myself making a point to read every year.  Do I recommend it as a read?  If you’re a lover of classic literature, then sure.  If you are more attracted to fast stories of intense dramatic elements coming one after another to keep your mind constantly engaged in the story, then maybe not so much.


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