Stevenson's 'Sterling Domestic Fiction',: 'The Beach of Falesá'

by Roslyn Jolly
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Title:
Stevenson's 'Sterling Domestic Fiction',: 'The Beach of Falesá'
Author:
Roslyn Jolly
Year: 
1999
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The Review of English Studies
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50
Issue: 
200
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463
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482
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English
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Abstract:

STEVENSON'S 'STERLING DOMESTIC FICTION',

'THE BEACH OF FALES~~'

BY ROSLYN JOLLY

This article explores the relations between genre, gender, geography, and race in Robert Louis Stevenson's 'The Beach of Falesa' It argues that, while the story is a generic hybrid, its deepest and most consistent affiliations are with the feminine realm of the domestic novel. Mo\-ing awa!- from Gothic modes of imagining colonial space and from adventure modes of defining masculinity, the story traces its narrator-protagonist's embrace of marriage, domesticity, and fatherhood. This trajector! reverses Stelenson's much-publicized stance on genre and gender in the romance-realism debates of the 188ns, disrupts the conventional polarization of the domestic and the exotic in the Victorians' fictional mapping of their world, and challenges I'ictorian notions of racial as \\-ell as fictional purity-for the story's moral centre is its protagonist's commitment to a mixed-race marriage and family. The marriage between the English LViltshire and I'olynesian Uma, defying the European taboo on miscegenation, initiates a series of transgressions which call into question the boundaries that separate romance and realism, ad\-enture and domesticity, masculinity and femininity, white skin and brown. The Wiltshires' mixed-race children hypostasiie the h>brid teat 'The Beach of Falesa': they are the material foundation for all the generic and ideological crossings proposed by this 'sterling domestic fiction'.

The idea for 'The Beach of Falesa', Ste\-enson wrote in November 1890, 'just shot through me like a bullet in one of my moments of awe, alone in that tragic jungle'.' The jungle was the uncleared land behind his house in Samoa, which he had bought earlier that year, and his awe was caused by a sense of the uncanny dimension of this landscape, in which he had spent several days cutting a path: 'A strange business it was, and infinitely solitarJ- . . . the lianas noosed and sought to hang me; the saplings struggled, and came up with that sob of death that one gets to know so 11-ell . . . Soon, toiling down in that pit of verdure, I heard blows on the far side, and then laughter. I confess a chill settled on my heart' (Letters, vii. 25). 'This account of the story's genesis suggests specific generic affiliations: the evocation of the genius loci is clear1~- Gothic, while the image of inspiration striking like a 'bullet' in a 'jungle' seems to announce an association with the world of masculine violence, of adventures in exotic locations, which we identifJ- with imperial romance. In fact the story plays with these fictional modes only to debunk and discard them. I will argue that, while the story is a generic hybrid, its deepest and most consistent affiliations are with the feminine realm of domestic fiction, the

The Letters ofRobert Louzs Stevenson, ed. B. A. Booth and E. ~Mehew, 8 \-01s. (New Haven, 199+5), ~ii.27. Subsequent references are included in the tevt with the short title Letters.

embrace of which determines the movement of the story, shapes the language of its narration, and disrupts various formal and ideological conventions which gov- erned contemporar>- ideas about genre, gender, and race.'

Stevenson's experience in the jungle was the direct source for the ke>- scene, two-thirds of the way through 'The Beach of Falesa', in which the narrator, Wiltshire, ventures deep into the bush which the islanders believe to be haunted by evil spirits:

But the queerness of the place it's more difficult to tell of, unless to one who has been alone in the high bush himself. The brightest kind of a day it is always dim down there. -4 man can see to the end of nothing; whichever way he looks the wood shuts up, one bough folding with another like the fingers of your hand; and whenever he listens he hears always something new-men talking, children laughing, the strokes of an axe a far way ahead of him, and sometimes a sort of a quick, stealthy scurry near at hand that makes him jump and look to his weapons. It's all very well for him to tell himself that he's alone, bar trees and birds; he can't make out to believe it; whichever way he turns the whole place seems to be alive and looking on.'

Wiltshire believes that the jungle holds the key to the superstitious power wielded by a rival trader, Case, over the natives of Falesa. He has been told that Case is the only person who can enter the bush and come out alive, because he is 'Tiapolo', the devil himself (p. 46), or the devil's own, his 'son' (p. 47).

Some of the boldest [of the villagers] . . . had accompanied him, and had heard him speak with the dead and give them orders, and, safe in his protection, had returned unscathed. Some said he had a church there, where he worshipped Tiapolo, and Tiapolo appeared to him; others swore that there was no sorcery at all, that he performed his miracles by the power of prayer, and the church was no church, but a prison, in which he had confined a dangerous aitu [spirit]. (p. 47)

As Stevenson's initial chapter outline shows (Letters, vii. 27), a confrontation in the jungle between Wiltshire and Case was designed to be the climax of the stor>-; to set up the rivalr>- that 11-ould lead to that confrontation, Stevenson devised the plot involving Wiltshire's marriage to the native girl Uma, a plot which centres on village gossip and politics, and the competition among whites for the native trade. As he proceeded with the writing of the story, he became more and more interested in the opportunities it offered for the realistic depiction of manners and morals at an obscure colonial outpost, and at the same time increasing1~- uneasy with the fantastic plot which depicted its villain literally in traffic with the devil. In April 1891 he 11-rote that he had taken up the story again after a long

2 R. Edmond, Representing the South Pactfir: Colontal D~scoursefiom Cook to Gauguin (Cambridge, 1997), 17k8, comments on the work's 'interrelation of imperial and domestic themes', building on Patrick Brantlinger's insight that the story's 'conclusion transforms ironic adventure tale into domestic problem story': Rule nf' Darkness: Bntish Literature and Imperraltsni, 183/1-1914 (Ithaca, NY, and London, 1988), 11. Brantlinger, howe~er, remains more interested in the story's relation to ad\-enture than to domestic modes of fiction, and neither critic fully explores the consequences of Stevenson's commitment in this text to the methods, ethos, and Imagery of domestic fiction.

3 Robert Louis Stevenson, South Sea Tales, ed. R. Joll~- (Oxford, 199h), 51. Subsequent page references are to this edition and are included in the text.

pause: 'I still think the fable too fantastic and far-fetched. But on a re-reading, fell in love with m>- first chapter [the marriage of Uma and Wiltshire]; and for good or evil, I must finish it. It is really good, 11-ell fed with facts, true to the manners . . .' (Letters, vii. 112-13). Again in September 1891 he expressed his mixed feelings about the story; he thought highl>- of what he had written, the opening scenes set in the village, but had misgibings about the direction the plot was to take when it moved into a supernatural ke! in the jungle scenes:

'The story is so wilful, so steep, so silly-it's a hallucination I have outlived, and yet I never did a better piece of work, horrid, and pleasing, and extraordinarily true: it's sixteen pages of the South Seas: their essence. What am I to do? Lose this little gem-for I'll be bold, and that's what I think it--or go on aith the rest which I don't believe in, and don't like, and which can never make aught but a silly yarn? (Letters, vii. 155)

The conflict between the realistic beginning and supernatural ending of the stor>- seemed unresol~~able,

but a few days later Stevenson announced to Colvin that 'the yarn is cured. . . . No supernatural trick at all; and escaped out of quite easily: can't think why I was so stupid for so long' (Letters, vii. 158-9). The 'curing' of the >-am was closely linked to its change of name from 'The High Woods of Ulufanua' to 'The Beach of Falesa'; the changed title shows a shift of focus from the jungle to the village, from magic to politics, from adventure and romance to the realistic anal>-sis of the problems of a modern, racially mixed c~mmunity.~

What had happened? Clear1~- at this point in the writing Stevenson hit upon a realistic explanation for the seemingly supernatural phenomena through which Case controlled the villagers, and this allowed him to complete the story in the same realistic mode in which he had begun it. The demystifying of Case's shrine to 'Tiapolo' begins with Wiltshire's discover>- that the inhuman music playing around the shrine has been produced b>- an Aeolian harp made out of a candle- box and banjo-strings from Case's store. Then he finds that the carved and painted 'idols' which line the wall surrounding the shrine are the forged 'island curiosities' which he knows Case sells to travellers; displaying them like this in the bush, Wiltshire realizes, 'served the man a double purpose: first of all, to season his curiosities, and then to frighten those that came to visit him' (p. 54). Finally he penetrates the heart of the shrine, a cave or cellar, and finds 'a shining face. It was big and ugly, like a pantomime mask, and the brightness of it waxed and dwindled, and at times it smoked'; Wiltshire instant1~- identifies the effects of 'luminous paint' (p. 55). The inspiration for this manufactured devil must have been the device used by Fanny Stevenson to prevent her pigs and fowls being stolen to feed the native chiefs who were visiting the Apia district in December 1890. She wrote in her diary:

I do not believe the missionaries will approve of my means of protection. I could think of nothing else so sure. I took the round top of a small meat cask and painted upon it a hideous head aith great eyes and a wide, open mouth displaying a double row of pointed teeth.

4 hlarie Fraser defined 'the beach' as 'the settlement of houses where the white men and half-castes have their stores, and where the ships touch': In Stecenson's Srrtnoa (London, 1895), 124.

Instead of hair, flames radiate out from the head. These flames, the iris of the eyes, and the pointed teeth I have painted in luminous paint. It almost frightens me.'

It is particularly appropriate that Stevenson should have adopted his wife's domestic expedient as a narrative expedient, for one of the key themes of Island Nights' Entertaintnents (the volume in which 'The Beach of Falesa' was published) is the resourcefulness of women: in each of the three stories in the collection, a man's life is saved by the quick thinking and ingenuity of his wife. Uma saves Wiltshire from Case's ambush, Lehua in 'The Isle of Voices' saves Keola from the cannibals' island, and Kokua in 'The Bottle Imp' saves Kea~ve from the fires of hell itself; Farm>-Stevenson, I believe, saved her husband from the narrative impasse in which he had become caught.

Stevenson's decision to provide a realistic explanation for Case's powers rather than pursue the diabolic implications of his original vision has attracted much adverse critical comment. Robert Kiel>- sees the demystification of Case's magic as a failure of vision on Stevenson's part, an evasion of the question of evil raised b>- his story as he offers his readers merely a childish or mechanical 'substitute for evil' which to Kiely is more appropriate to a bo>-s' adventure story than a u-ork of fiction for adults.%d~\-in Eigner similarly deplores the way Stevenson 'finall>- converted his real and terrible wizard into a cheap stage magician' and, comparing the stor>- with Conrad's Heart of Darkness, finds that the 'stage magician tricks' employed by Case fall far short in imaginative intensit>- of the 'darkness' associated with Kurtz.' Albert Guerard also scornfull>- points out 'the immense distance from Case's carved faces to the skulls on Kurtz's palisade; from Case's pretended traffic with devils to Kurtz's role as one of the devils of the land; from Wiltshire's canny out~l-itting of a rival trader to Marlolv's dark inward journey; from the inert jungle of Stevenson's South Pacific to the charged s>-mbolic jungle of Conrad's Congo'. To Guerard, Marlow's glimpse into Kurtz's diabolic soul is an insight into a 'facet of the unconscious', whereas '[tlhe nighttime meeting of Case and Wiltshire is merely an exciting physical struggle'.'

Guerard shares with Kiel>- and Eigner the belief that Stevenson cheated his readers, and his ovn vision, by offering and then withdrawing an image of elil as diabiolical atakism. But in concentrating on the fraudulent nature of Case's shrine and magic, these critics ignore the real evil Case commits, that is, the murder of at least two of his rivals at Falesa, including (in an episode worthy of Poe) the burial alive of the paralytic, Underhill. As the missionary, Mr Tarleton, says, 'white men die ver>- sudden1~- in Falesa' (p. 40), and Case's atavistic behaviour is shown powerfully in the realistic context of trade and village politics without the additional elements of supernaturalism and diabolism. Stevenson's swerve away from the Gothic is not a failure of nerve in the treatment of evil (after all, he had

5 Fanny and Robert Louis Stevenson, Our Sirnroan .4drentu1-e, ed. C. Seider (London, 19.56), 80 6 R.Kiely, Robert Louts Sterenson and the Fictron of ..idrenture (Cambridge, hlass., 1964), 175. 7 E. IM.Eigner, Robert Lours Stez3enson and Ronrnntri Trodttron (Princeton, NJ, 1966), .3.i, 216, 217. 8 -4. J. Guerard, Conrird the Chrelist (Cambridge, hlass.. 1958), 43 n., 42.

repeatedl! tackled the subject of evil and shown himself a master of the Gothic mode in works such as 'Thrawn Janet', Dr Jekyll and Mr Hjlde, and The Master of Ballantrae); rather, it is a deliberate and meaningful act of dem>-stification which makes his stor>- an ironic reflection upon, rather than an example of, the form of imperial romance writing Patrick Brantlinger has called 'imperial Gothic'. Brantlinger identifies atavism-'psychological and social regression like Kurtz's "going native" in Heart of Darkness'-as one of the central characteristics of imperial Gothic, and shows that in stories of empire it is often linked to occultism, diabolism, and engagement with primitive religions. This is what Case's 'Tiapolo' cult seems to represent, but Brantlinger argues that in 'The Beach of Falesa' the revelation of the supernatural elements as 'a cheap hoax' leads to the 'violent demystification of the island' and helps to 'compose a realist, parodic inversion of imperial Gothic'." It is not clear to what extent Brantlinger thinks Stevenson intended or controlled these effects, or to what end, and his labelling of the story 'a sort of botched romance' suggests he believes that the story got away from its author to some degree."' I maintain, against this, that, far from being 'botched', the romance plot with which Stevenson began 'The Beach of Falesa' was deliberately set aside in the s>-stematic pursuit of an alternative vision.

Wiltshire's narrative on his return from the bush, which exposes Case's fraud and debunks the myths surrounding it, has two sets of narratees: his listeners within the story, and the readers of Stevenson's book. The demystification which robs Case of his authority in the village is of course directly aimed at the first group, represented by Maea, the young chief to whom Wiltshire gives his account of his visit to Case's shrine or, as he calls it, 'Case's Tiapolo store': 'Tell him the place is a blooming toy-shop!', he says to uma, his interpreter, 'Tell him in England we give these things to the kids to play with' (p. 58). His images trivialize Case's activit>-, while also exposing its roots in commerce, supporting his conclusion that 'the man's a fraud and the place foolishness' (p. 59). In contrast to imperial Gothic, in which Western technology is opposed to non-Western magic," here the magic is merely low technology; as Wiltshire says earlier, 'With a box of tools and a few might>- simple contrivances [Case] had made out to have a devil of a temple' (p. 55). The collapse of the opposition between Western 'tools' and non-Western 'temple' is important for the second set of narratees, Stevenson's readers, because it denies convenient and comfortable oppositions between Western rationalit!. and non-Western supernaturalism, European enlightenment

9 P. Brantlinger, 'Imperial Gothic: Atavism and the Occult in the British Adventure No\el, 1880-1914', ELT 28 (1985), 245, 248-9.

10 Ibid. 248. The argument about 'The Beach of Falesa' in this article is somewhat confusing: Brantlinger makes the 'fake devils' part of the theme of the 'decline of ad\-enture' which he says is a feature of imperial Gothic, yet he also argues that the demystification of Case's powers brings about the parody and inversion of imperial Gothic in this text (pp. 248-9). In his later Rule of' Darkness, Brantlinger takes the discussion of 'The Beach of Falesb' out of the chapter on 'Imperial Gothic', and offers a more unified reading of the story simply in terms of 'the decline of adventure' (pp. 3943).

11 Brantlinger. 'Imperial Gothic', 243

and native 'darkness', and will not allow Falesa to be constructed as the home of the latter. Falesa has not caused Case to 'regress': his evil is all his own; he brought it with him along with his trade goods and his lust for pol~er. The debunking of Case's self-mythology underscores the fact that a South Sea island is not a dream landscape mapping the Western unconscious, in which the dark povers outlawed b~ Western rationality still flourish," but a real place in which ordinary people work out their domestic and political problems. Case, vith his forged 'island curiosities', does a trade in the fahe exotic nhich panders to Western ideas about 'primitive' societies (the islanders, we are told, have long since ceased to make such idols themselves (p. 54)); Stevenson is not willing to engage, in literary terms, in the same trade by commodifying and selling a similar notion of the primitive exotic to a Western market.

When Stevenson had 'cured' the yarn b>- providing realistic explanations for its supernatural effects and playing out its Gothic elements as parody, the result was, he declared, a piece of 'sterling domestic fiction' (Letters, vii. 161). The description is surprising, as Stel-enson was not noted for 'domestic fiction'; in fact, he was known for the distinctly anti-domestic elements in his work and was thus seen as a writer alienated from the dominant English novel tradition." Lang obserked that he seemed 'happier in [his] dealings with men than with women, and with war than with love', and Conan Doyle identified him as the 'leader' of a school which had resisted the stranglehold of the courtship plot over British fiction and substituted '[tlhe modern masculine novel, dealing almost exclusive1~- with the rougher, more stirring side of life."' For Saintsbur~-, this was matter for praise, and he approving1~- noted Stevenson's movement away from the 'minute manners-painting and refined character-analpis' that had come to dominate the novel in England." On the other hand, Stephen Gwynn argued that Stevenson's deviation from the great tradition of the domestic novel of manners and morals had deprived his fiction of the 'weight of human experience' which characterized the work of more substantial novelists: 'If I wished to summarize his defects in a word, I should say-unhomeliness.' 'Life's peaceful emploqments, woman's natile sphere, Mr. Stelenson passes oker. Except the distracted house of Durrisdeer [in The Muster ofBullantrae], I do not recall that he has drawn one home; and I think the sense of limitation in his achievement which

12 See Brantlinger, Rule yf Darkness, 246, on the dream landscape of Imperial Gothic

13 On the polarization of the domestic and adventure traditions In Engl~sh fiction, see 11. Green, Drenms o,4dventure, Deeds of Ernp~re (London, 19801, 57-6.5. This opposition and its variants (the novel and the romance, the novel of character and the novel of incident) \\ere staples of I'ictorian novel criticism. Henry James attempted to collapse the opposition in 'The -1st of Fiction' (1884), repr. in Piirtrul Portruits (London, 1888), 392-3. In his reply to James, '.4 Humble Remonstrance' (1884), Stevenson suggested a third category, 'the dramatic no\el' (.Clerilnnes irtrd Pnrtniits (1887; London, 1925), 1765); hut the basic duality continued to go\ern criticism to the end ofthe century. For a full contemporas? discussion, see L.1. C. L?all], 'Soxels oE.\d\enture and Ilanners', Qriiirtr.rl], Re~ierr~,

179 (1894), 530-52.

14 .I.Lang, 'Realism and Romance', Contenzporur), Re~zeu,, 52 (1887), 690; .1.Conan L)o?le, 'Mr. Stevenson's Methods in F~ction', jljt~onal i~nd Englrsh Rrri~in, 14 (1890), 652.

15 G. Saintsbur?, 'The Present State of the No~el', Form~qhtl~~ 42 (18871, 41.5.

R~i.iei17,

forces itself on his admirers is due to this gipsy strain which estranges him perceptibly from so large a province in human nature.""

The anti-domestic streak which estranged Stevenson from the realist tradition and propelled him towards the 'gipsy' world of romance is evident in a letter to \.I;. E. Henley in 1884, in which Stevenson expressed the attitude to fictional genres with which he was, and has continued to be, most closely associated. Humorously bemoaning the fact that he lived in an age of realism, he contrasted the romance narratives he desired to read with the kind of fiction actually available:

What should be: What is:
The Filibuster's Cache. Aunt A4nne's Tea Cosy.
Jerry Abershaw. hlrs Brierly's Niece.
Blood Money: A Tale. Society: A Novel.

(Letters, iv. 308)

Here the novel is coded as feminine and domestic, concerned with family relationships and social minutiae, while romance is associated with a masculine world of crime and violence, but also of liberating adventure. This gendering of genres accords with the rhetoric of the romance-realism debates of the 1880s and 1890s, which Stevenson helped to write. His published writings on fictional genres through the 1880s celebrated the satisfaction of readerly desire through romance and criticized the naivety which equated realism with reality, offering instead sophisticated analyses of its artifice.'' These critical documents, together with his representation by champions of romance such as Lang and Saintsbury (who constantly paired him with Haggard) ensured the firm identification of Steven- son's authorial persona with romance, and its opposition to realism, in the public imagination. Stevenson's correspondence reveals, however, that by the turn of the decade he was beginning to reassess his relation to the tradition of social and domestic realism which dominated nineteenth-century English fiction. In 1890 he wrote that his new novel, The Wrecker, was 'in quite a new hein for me: being chiefly a study of manners' (Letters, vi. 375-6), and in 1891 he was exulting that he had 'a whole new society to work' (Letters, vii. 154) in constructing the stories he intended for the volume Beach-la-Mar. One of these stories was subsumed into a larger project, a novel to be called Sophza Scarlet, which was set on a Tahitian plantation and presented new challenges to Stevenson, as it 'involv[ed] a good many characters, about ten, I think, who have to be kept all moving and give the effect of a society'. Three of the characters were to be women, and Stevenson wrote to Colvin, LThe fact is, I blush to own it, but Sophza is a regular nozel; heroine and hero, and false accusation, and love, and marriage, and all the rest of it . . .' (Letters, vii. 231).

16 S.Gwynn, 'Mr. Robert Louis Stevenson: .I Critical Study', fortnight!)^ Rerrew, 36 (1894), 777, 778,

780.

17 '.4 Gossip on Romance' (1882), repr. in Memories und Portruzts, 151-67; '.4 Note on Realism' (1883), repr. in Essuys rn the .Art uf'PVrzting (London, 1905), 97-1 11; '.4 Humble Remonstrance' (1884), repr. in !Memurres und Purtrarts, 168-82.

Somewhat self-consciously Stevenson found himself embracing, in the context of Pacific society, the concerns of a feminine tradition of novel-writing which he associated with the 'regular nozel', and which he had hitherto scorned. Unfortu- nately, the novel was never written, and the volume Beach-la-Mar was never produced; 'The Beach of Falesa' is the only completed work among the several projects embodying the interest in domestic realism and the feminine concerns of the 'egular novel' that Stevenson expressed at this time. In describing this work as 'sterling domestic fiction', Stevenson disrupted assumptions about the polariza- tion of the domestic and the exotic which characterized contemporary thinking about the use of colonial spaces and non-European cultures in fiction. A story set on an imaginary Pacific island would not have been recognized by English readers as a 'domestic' literary product,'x but Stevenson's use of the word 'sterling' to describe his story challengingly extends the province of the domestic; denoting genuinely English (as opposed to foreign) currency, the adjective places the story securely within the domestic economy of English fiction, and not as an exotic import. Stevenson's description of the work offers a further challenge to contemporar! ideology through another meaning of 'sterling' as a standard of qualit! based on a guarantee of purit!;'"or his domestic fiction centres on a mixed-race marriage which introduces the subject of miscegenation, thereby confronting ITictorian notions of racial as well as generic purity.

Stevenson said that his story was 'true to the manners' (Letters, vii. 112-13) of the island life he was depicting, and this, together with its material detail, is the key to its realism. The exotic subject-matter is presented in a social context which makes it readable in the terms of the novel of manners, that is, the expression of issues of poner, property, and class or caste through personal relationships, especiall! courtships (both legitimate and illegitimate). 'These are rum manners'

(p. lo), U'iltshire comments on his first da! at Falesa, but they are manners nevertheless. A prime example is the taboo placed upon Uma and U'iltshire. Initially experienced by UJiltshire as a series of uncanny moments-the silent crowd surrounding his house (pp. 11-16), the native pastor struck dumb and aghast at the sight of him (p. 21)-the taboo is soon taken out of the realm of the uncanny and situated within a framework of village politics, trade and sexual rivalries, and local conventions about class and status. First orchestrated by Case to try to 'isolate [Uma] and have his wicked will of her' (p. 42), and then used to neutralize U'iltshire as a competitor for the local trade, the taboo builds upon Uma's and her mother's low social status as 'kinless folk and out-islanders' (p. 31), and makes use of the jealousies provoked among village girls b! the advantageous proposal of marriage Uma had received from a young and handsome chief. -4s IYiltshire later discovers, those who participated in the taboo were probably conscious of it as an expression of social rather than supernatural power: 'One thing I made out: [Maea] could never really have thought much harm of Uma; he could never have been really frightened, and must just have made believe from 18 Gw?nn, 'Mr. Robert 1,ouis Stevenson', 778. 19 See OED, 2nd edn. (1989), 'sterling', B. adj., 1 and 3.

dodginess, and because he thought Case had a strong pull in the village and could help him on' (p. 58).

As a study of manners in a mixed society, 'The Beach of Falesa' is as concerned with the behaviour of Europeans as it is with that of natives. When Wiltshire first meets the missionary Mr Tarleton, modes of dress are used to signify the distribution of power and prestige among the nhites: 'I had on a rig of clean striped pyjamas-for, of course, I had dressed decent to go before the chiefs; but when I saw the missionary step out of this boat in the regular uniform, white duck clothes, pith helmet, white shirt and tie, and yellow boots to his feet, I could have bunged stones at him' (p. 34). General class hostilit!, as well as the more specific local antipathies between traders and missionaries, underwrites the frustration and barely contained aggression with nhich IYiltshire sees himself outclassed in manners and appearance by Mr Tarleton. The idea of conflict between mis- sionaries and traders appears very early in 'The Beach of Falesa', in U'iltshire's explanation of why he has used a false marriage to seduce Uma: 'it was the practice in these parts, and (as I told myself) not the least the fault of us white men, but of the missionaries. If they had let the natives be, I had never needed this deception, but taken all the wives I wished, and left them when I pleased, with a clear conscience' (p. 11). The 'marriage' is performed by Case's trading partner, Black Jack, in a parody of religious and legal institutions. The words of the service are 'not fit to be set down' and the marriage certificate reads: 'This is to certify that L'ma daughter of Fa 'avao of Falesa island of ----, is illegally married to Mr John PV~ltsh~refor one night, and Mr John Wiltshire is at liberty to send her to hell next morning' (p. 11). Such manners were too 'rum' for Stevenson's publishers at the Illustrated London News, Cassell's, and Scribner's, who pressed for the marriage certificate to be omitted or revised."' Stevenson resisted censorship on the grounds both of realism ('the real document, from which I have scarcely varied, ran for one night') and of coherence ('you will see what would be left of the yarn, had I consented')." For out of this instance of 'rum manners' arises the moral dilemma that confronts Wiltshire and governs his later actions: should he take advantage of the invalidity of the marriage to abandon the tabooed Uma and save his business, or should he commit himself to her b! legalizing the marriage? Local manners provide the key to the moral problem of the stor!, which is resolved by IYiltshire's switch of allegiances from Case to Uma, from the influence of the traders to the

20 See Letters, vii. 230-1, and 230 n. 3, 281 and n. 14

21 Ibid. 281, 231. Uma's marriage certificate was based on that of a Gilbert Island woman married to a white trader; see In the South Seirs (London, 1900), 268. Stevenson's resistance to censorship was only partially successful: the certificate was omitted from the Illustruted London !\;ems version of the story and modified in the Cassell and Scribner's book editions. Kegoriations over the story between Stevenson and his various editors were complicated and messy, leaving us with many loose ends and no single authoritative text of 'The Reach of Falesa'. Barry Menikoff seeks to recover an original authorial utterance in Robert Louis Stezenson und 'The Beuch of Falesa': .4 Study m Victoriun Publzshtng (Edinburgh, 1981); in contrast, Vanessa Smith argues the need to approach the text with a sense of the transactions that went into its making: see Literury Culture and the Pacfic: .\ineteenth-Century

Textual Encounters (Cambridge, 1998), 168-9. On the importance of the textual variants and the interpretative work they invite, see South Seu Tales, pp. xxxiv-xxxv, and Hans-Peter Breuer's review of llenikoff in .Modern Fzction Stuilzes, 31 (198j), 33910.

influence of the missionary, from irresponsible bachelorhood to the responsibil- ities of marriage.

This trajectory reverses the 'flight from marriage' which Elaine Showalter cites as a defining characteristic of the 'male quest romance'." Unlike earlier Stevenson works, such as Treasure Island and Kzdnapped, whose fictional worlds were uncomplicated b! sex and free of domestic responsibility, in 'The Beach of Falesa' sexual attraction initiates the plot, uhich then turns on Wiltshire's decision not to flee his marriage, but to face the emotional and social responsibilities that follow from sex and fatherhood. This means that 'The Beach of Falesa' cannot be classified as masculine romance; rather, it embraces key terms of the novel of courtship and marriage. The lack of complexity in Wiltshire's initial selection of Uma as partner ('U'ho's she? . . . She'll do', p. 7), and the fact that the narrative begins rather than ends with a marriage, disguise but do not dismantle the basic structure which governs the first half of the novella: from the false marriage of Chapter 1 to the true marriage of Chapter 3, Wiltshire and Uma win each other's trust and test each other's loyalty, until they form an indissoluble partnership."

The story's reversal of adventure's 'flight from marriage' has significant ideological as well as generic implications: b! placing the legitimation of a mixed-race marriage at the heart of its moral problematic, the story endorses miscegenation. Here the challenging implications of Stevenson's generic swerve in this text become apparent: a woman of another race, and children of mixed race, are brought within the domain of the domestic novel, from which they were conventionally excluded. The infamous marriage certificate which so shocked the story's first metropolitan readers merely offers a crude summary of the accepted terms of interracial romance in imperial literature." In eighteenth- and nine- teenth-century fictions of travel and empire, interracial relationships are seen as inevitably temporary and the native woman is invariably sacrificed (she is abandoned, killed off, or nobly withdraws herself) in order to safeguard against the dangers of miscegenation and racial contamination. She is-in the words of Uma's marriage certificate-'sen[t] . . . to hell' when her lover, and the text in which she appears, have finished with her. We can see this in two Pacific stories familiar to Stevenson and his readers. The Marquesan Fayawa! in Melville's Tj,pee is given 'one parting embrace' and then left 'speechless with sorrow' as her

22 E. Showalter, Se.ruul.4nurrh,y: Gender und Culture at the Fzn de SzPcle (New York, 1990), 82, 81.

23 .4. Quiller-Couch, recognizing the importance of the courtship plot structure, argued that the story should properly have ended with the true marriage of Ch. 3, and that the last two chapters were irrelevant to its concerns, once the question of LViltshire's commitment to Uma had been answered; see

Maixner (ed.), Robert Lours Stezensun: The Critical Herrtage (London, 1981), 413. However, the continuation of the plot beyond the second marriage ceremony allows for a more extended representa- tion of Wiltshire's and Uma's domestic life, as well as the opportunity to show its consolidation in the face of threat.

21 See M.L. Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Truzel IVritrng und Trunsculturutron (London, 1992), 95-101. Edmond, Representrng the South Purr&, discusses Stevenson's 'rewriting of the transcultural romance' (pp. 174-6).

American lover Tommo makes his escape from the valley of the Typees.'" In Viaud's The Marriage of Loti the eventual abandonment of the Tahitian Rarahu by her French lover is foreshadowed almost from the beginning of the novel, and the girl is left to sink into alcoholism, prostitution, and an early death.26 In neither case is the protagonist's departure presented as blameworthy, and in the second, the threat of the production of mixed-race children is defused not only by cutting short the relationship, but also by supplementing the plot with authoritative commentaries on Polynesian infertility and depopulation." 'The Beach of Falesi' is distinguished from such texts by Wiltshire's decision to stay with Uma and legitimize their marriage, thereby defying at the same time both the taboo placed on her by the islanders and the European taboo on mised-race relationships. In fact, the plot device of the local taboo may be seen as a displaced version of the actual taboo at the heart of the story: the ban on miscegenation. 'Taboo belong me', says Uma (p. 28), just as it belonged to Melville's Fayaway and Loti's Rarahu; but Stevenson breaks it, and his plot, which uses local manners to set up its moral problematic, simultaneously brings European manners and ideologies into ques- tion.

Contemporary critical reactions to 'The Beach of Falesa' display an interesting double response in which the story's difference from accepted patterns of representing interracial romances is simultaneously recognized and erased. Reviews of Island Nights' Entertainments in The Times, The <4thenaeum, and Black and White applaud Wiltshire's faithfulness to his native wife, praising as 'pathetic' and 'delightful' the scene in which he refuses the liberation she offers him.lR Yet the same three reviews align Uma with 'some of Pierre Loti's temporary wives in different parts of the globe', two of them specifically referring to her as a 'Madame Chrysantheme', the Loti character on which Puccini's Madame Butterfly would be based and a paradigmatic instance of the doomed native woman of conventional transracial romance.'" These reviewers recognize the way that local manners (the fake marriage) lead to the story's moral centre (Wiltshire's choice about abandoning or legitimating the marriage), but they do not fully absorb either the generic or the ideological implications of his decision. It is as if they cannot quite carry out the rethinking of categories required by this text, and so they translate the story back into the terms of more familiar models, even as they partially recognize its distinctive difference. Indeed, a sense of what is needed to move outside traditional structures of thought about interracial romance is present in the story itself, in Wiltshire's narration. Leaving the scene of his first (false) marriage ceremony, U'iltshire's emotion for Uma domesticates the experi- ence: 'I felt for all the world as though she were some girl at home in the Old

25 Herman Melville, Typee (1816; Oxford, 1996), 293.

26 Pierre Loti [Julien Viaud], The IMurriage of Loti (1880), trans. Ll-. Frierson and E. Frierson (Honolulu, 1976). 22, 185.

27 Ibid. 834, 96, 117.

28 Tzmes, 3 June 1893, p. 18; Athenurum, 13 .\pr. 1893, p. 169; Maixner, The Criticul Herituge, 417.

29 Athenaeum, 15 4pr. 1893, p. 169; Maixner, The Critical Herztuge, 416; T~mes,3 June 1893, p. 18.

Country, and, forgetting myself for the minute, took her hand to walk with' (p. 12). Wiltshire is able to break through an ideological barrier (the idea of racial inequality) and present his relationship with Uma in terms of 'domestic' courtship rather than exotic romance; but he must temporarily 'forget himself and his consciously held beliefs to do so. The reviewers are less able to 'forget' learned patterns of thought about race and gender, and, far from assimilating Uma to the domestic tradition of the courtship novel by comparing her to 'some girl at home in the Old Country', they persist in exoticizing her, using a vague Orientalism to identify her as a 'Madame Chrysantheme'.

Such readings run counter to the language of Wiltshire's narrative, which works to familiarize and domesticate its content by providing points of reference and comparison for himself and his readers. Sometimes these comparisons are part of an explicit comment by W-iltshire on how he made sense of novel experiences by relating them to experiences or ideas from 'home'. Confronting the superstitious dread of the crowd which gathered outside his house the morning after his marriage, he writes, 'it came upon me things would look not much different if I were on the platform of the gallows, and these good folk had come to see me hanged' (p. 15). Describing the meeting he and Case had with the chiefs and villagers he writes that '[mlany of the men . . . wore green wreaths, and it put me in thoughts of the 1st of May at home' (p. 23). Sometimes the comparisons are explicitly offered to the reader ('you') as a way to understand scenes, situations, and characters which are on the surface alien. Describing the response when he tries to move among the crowd outside his house, he says: 'There went a short buzz from one to the other, like what you hear in theatres when the curtain goes up' (p. 15); 'one old woman gave a kind of pious moan, the way you have heard Dissenters in their chapels at the sermon' (p. 16). Of the taboo on Lma he writes: 'It \\-as a regular excommunication, like what you read of in the Middle Ages'

(p.
31). Meanwhile a series of similes, while not explicitly offered as sense-making tools for the narrator or the English reader, nevertheless work to link the story to domestic scenes and situations-domestic both in the national sense of 'English' and in the more specific sense of 'homely'. The foreign subject-matter of the story is domesticated by repeated references to food, pets, children's activities, furniture, and private spaces that belong to English home life. Confronted by the bizarre figure of Uma's mother Fa'avao, with her tattooed face and 'crazy' eyes, Wiltshire writes that she 'smacked and mumbled with her lips, and hummed aloud, like a child over its Christmas pudding' and that she 'purred and crooned over [his hand] like a great cat' (p. 9). He thinks the islanders stare at his house 'as straight as pointer dogs' (p. 14) and that three little boys 'with their shaved heads and bits of top-knots, and queer faces . . . looked like figures on a chimney-piece'
(p.
15). Case's 'devil' is likened to 'a pantomime mask' (p. 55) and his idols are compared to 'toys out of a shop' (p. 54); later, birdsong makes the woods 'whirr with singing like a musical box' (p. 69).
This domestic imagery reinforces the strong domestic content of the story. A settled home life is implied by Wiltshire's statement, with reference to the second (legitimate) marriage ceremony, that 'we . . . were spliced in our own house'

(p.
36). Domestic routine is suggested by the comment that the French priest Galuchet 'got into a habit of dropping in about dark and smoking his pipe with the family' (p. 44)-'the family', at this point, consisting of Wiltshire and Lma and perhaps at times her mother Fa'avao. Shared domestic activity is the main bond between Wiltshire and Uma, on which several variations are played. After the crisis in their relationship when Wiltshire learns the truth about the taboo, they mark their renewed commitment to the marriage by getting dinner together: 'The stove was out, and gone stone-cold; but we fired up after a while, and cooked each a dish, helping and hindering each other, and making a play of it like children'
(p.
29). Later, play gives way to work as, unable to trade because of the taboo, they make a living by extracting copra (coconut meat) from trees owned by Uma's mother: 'the two women and I turned to and made copra with our own hands'
(p.
44). Katherine Bailey Linehan has pointed out that this activity identifies Wiltshire with native and female activities and thus entails an important revision of his privileged status as a v~hite male."' The association of Wiltshire with women's activities is reinforced by a comic role-reversal in the depiction of his marriage: Lma is 'the worst cook I suppose God made' (pp. 29-30), so Wiltshire takes charge of as much of the cooking as he can. After their marriage by Mr Tarleton,
we ran him up a bit of a meal. I was bound to let the old lady have a hand in it, to show off, so I deputized her to brew the tea. I don't think I ever met such tea as she turned out. But that was not the worst, for she got round with the salt-box, which she considered an extra European touch, and turned my stew into sea-water. (p. 37)

Uma is sloppy around the house ('I was surprised to find Uma had cleared away the dinner things. This was so unlike her ways that I saw she had done it out of gratitude, and liked her the better', pp. 35-6), but Wiltshire cleans the abandoned store and proudly fixes it up 'regular Sydney style' (p. 17).

The identification of Wiltshire with the feminine is linked to his explicit rejection of the masculine, anti-domestic sphere inhabited by Case and his partners Randall and Black Jack. Stevenson explained that his depiction of old Randall, the drunken ex-sea-captain, was necessary to the plot, 'Wiltshire's disgust for him being one of the small, efficient motives in the story' (Letters, vii. 282). Wiltshire spends most of his first day in Falesa with Randall and describes the time passed in his company as 'like a nightmare' (p. 9); '"hfy friend," I was telling myself all day, "you must not come to be an old gentleman like this"' (p. 9). Randall is installed at the centre of a kind of domestic hell, an all-male dystopia. The traders' household is described thus:

The room was stifling hot and full of flies; for the house was dirty and low and small, and stood in a bad place, behind the village, in the borders of the bush, and sheltered from the trade [wind]. The three men's beds were on the floor, and a litter of pans and dishes. There

30 I(.B. Linehan, 'Taking Up \Vith Kanakas: Stevenson's Complex Social Crit~cism in "The Beach of Falesa"', ELT 33 (1990), 418.

was no standing furniture; Randall, when he was violent, tearing it to laths. There I sat and had a meal which was served us by Case's wife; and there I was entertained all day by that remains of man, his tongue stumbling among low old jokes and long old stories, and his own wheezy laughter always ready, so that he had no sense of my depression. He was nipping gin all the while. (p. 9)

Wiltshire has earlier said that the on14 point he knew in Case's favour was that 'he \\-as fond of his wife, and kind to her' (p. 5), but it seems that her status in this household is marginal and servile: the three men sleep in the one room, and there is no mention of a bed for her. (W-e are also told later that Case is 'profligate with women', p. 39.) Even the shop caters to a masculinity which is defiantly anti- domestic; Case and his partners barely keep up a pretence of stocking household goods, and sell mainly 'guns and drink' (p. 8). ib'iltshire's store, on the other hand, sells foodstuffs such as 'rice and tins and biscuits' (p. 58) and bolts of printed cotton ('my own choice') for the 'island dandies' to make their 'kilts and dresses' (pp. 16-17).

The society of Case and his cronies at first appeals to Wiltshire after the lonely years on his last island, 'buying gin and going on a break, and then repenting; sitting in the house at night with the lamp for company' (p. 5); but he soon realizes it is merely an extension of the same kind of life, which excludes women and family. The night he takes Uma home, he decides to open and pour out the bottles of gin he has brought with him to Falesa, a decision taken 'partly for the girl's sake, and partly for horror of the recollections of old Randall' (p. 13). Explicitly linked to the 'small, efficient motive' of his disgust for Randall, the pouring out of the gin marks almost ritualistically Wiltshire's rejection of all that Randall represents and his desire instead to safeguard his domestic life and the interests of his wife.

The Case-Randall household presents a grotesque parody of the all-male milieux of Stevenson's earlier adventure fiction. Patrick Brantlinger and Robert Dixon have used the figure of Captain Randall as the key to readings of 'The Beach of Falesa' which place the story as a late, self-reflexive addition to this fiction of adventure. In Rule of Darkness, Brantlinger says that the description of the drunken Randall, filthy and crawling with parasites, 'offers as powerful a suggestion of the decadence of the imperial adventure as anything in Conrad', and goes on to argue that 'In Falesa', adventure has given way to trade (although it sneaks in through the back door because trade gives way to crime).' He claims that the narrative is marked by a 'felt contradiction between trade and the heroic, aristocratic significance of adventure' so that the story, like '[mluch late Victorian and Edwardian writing . . . has an elegiac quality about it, mourning the loss of adventure, heroism, true nobility': Stevenson, like Conrad, 'contrasts a past of innocent adventure and a present of commercial money-grubbing'." Yet no such contrast exists within the text. There is no evidence that Wiltshire has e\er lived a life of 'innocent adventure'; all we know of h~s past is the account, alreadj quoted, of loneliness and binge-drinking on his last island. It is clear that W-iltshire finds his new life of home and familq with Uma infinitely preferable to this. Nor is it 31 Brantl~nger,Rule of Durkness, 10, 42, 13

possible to establish 'a past of innocent adventure' for Captain Randall, of whom we know only that 'he had once commanded a ship' (p. 8) and nas therefore once respectable and held a position of professional authorit!; but whether he had adventures, and whether the! were innocent, ne do not know. Perhaps Brantlin- ger is referring to the 'innocent adventure' of Stevenson's own past romances. In this case, mournful nostalgia for a lost world of innocent adventure may be brought to the text by its readers-and there is evidence that early readers did make this kind of contrast between Stevenson's earlier and later work3'-but it is not incorporated into the text by the author, in the way that Conrad, for example, in Lord Jzm,builds in a contrast between 'the sea-life of light literature' and the reality of Jim's experiences at sea."' A4nd when we turn to extra-textual evidence, we find that although the age of innocent imperial adventure ended for Stevenson when he began to encounter the realities of empire, during and after the writing of 'The Beach of Falesa' he expresses no regret for this, but looks forward enthusiastically to what was, for him, the combination of new subject-matter with a new fictional mode.'"

In Wrzting the Colonzal Adzenture Robert Dixon also focuses on the figure of Randall as the first step in understanding the story's relation to the adventure mode: 'Captain Randall personifies the demise of the imperial ideal'.'i However, whereas in Brantlinger's reading adventure is placed irretrievably in the past, Dixon argues that in 'The Beach of Falesa' 'the apparent collapse of the adventure mode from within' is reversed in 'a process of regeneration by violence': 'if characters like Captain Randall and Case personify the demise of the heroic conception of imperialism, other characters work to revive it. To achieve that restoration, Wiltshire resorts to violence."' Drawing attention to Wiltshire's anxious assertions of his identity as 'a white man, and a British subject'

(p. 23)-an identity threatened by the behaviour towards him of the inhabitants of Falesa-Dixon argues that the combat between Wiltshire and Case in the

32 See e.g. the review of The Ebb-Tide b\-'Y.Y ' in The Bookmun (Oct. 1894). 'Now we may hope that
the tide will turn, and flowing strong and blithe, hurry us once more under stooping skies, between
perilous rocks, through crested breakers to the havens of delight. Many a time had we voyaged thus in
the old da\-s with Mr. Stevenson for our trusty pllot and we his trustful passengers. Granted that among
his crew he always contrived to ship some terrible ruffians, they were at least picturesque and
interesting ruffians, and aboard we never failed to find man\- shipmates to like and one or two to love.
But of late he invltes us to join him-and how can we refuse;Lon no brisk yacht or gallant pirate, but
on some convict hulks of squalid wickedness, where all are bad and well nigh bad alike. Of dangers and
halr-breadth escapes there is no lack, but the\- do not thrill; the\- onl\- baffle. \Ve chafe to see how often
the devil is cheated of h~s due . . . and when at last the land appears where we part company with the
sorry crew we find we have arrived-just nowhere at all. In this later manner we have alread\- had "The
Wrecker" and the short stor\- called the "Beach of Falesa"' (p 19).

33 Joseph Conrad, LordJtm (1900; Oxford, 1983), 6: '.4fter two years of training he went to sea, and
entering the regions so well known to his imagination, found them strangel\- barren of adventure'
(P 10).
34 See Letters, vii. 154, 231

35 R Dlxon, Writzng the Colonzul Adz'enture Race, Gender und .Nutton tn Anglo-Austrulzun Popular Fiction, 1875-1914 (Cambridge, 1995), 180

36 Ib~d 14, 182

novella's final chapter marks a reinstatement of that identity through adventure and the imperialist ideology it serves: 'Despite its best insights, the story is complicit with the ethics of adventure, as if the killing of an enemy in battle were the only way to restore meaning to the terms Lb'hite Man and British subject'. Dixon disputes Brantlinger's conclusion that Wiltshire moves 'beyond adventure' and argues that, in 'The Beach of Faled', '[tlhe problem of the decline of adventure into barbarism is solved by more of the same'."

In their different ways both Brantlinger and Dixon make 'The Beach of Falesa' a coda (either nostalgic, or aggressively reconstructive) to Stevenson's output of ad\enture fiction, rather than a departure from it." In commenting on the adventure content of Chapter 5, they concentrate on its spectacular and energetic qualities and ignore its farcical elements." Yet a considerable undercutting of adventure goes on in this chapter. In Chapter 4, when Wiltshire first goes into the high woods, the true note of adventure fiction seems to be struck: 'with my gun and a good knife, I set off upon a voyage of discovery' (p. 51). But in Chapter 5 he describes himself setting off for the woods again 'laden like a donkey' (p. 61); as well as his technologies of violence-gun, knife, dynamite-he is carrying Uma's native bible, nhich he has promised to take with him as protection against lzitzrs (evil spirits); associated with missionary culture, native culture, and the feminine realm, the bible is triply opposed to the world of the white, male trader-adven- turer. Balancing this metonymic freight from both the masculine world of imperial adventure and its various opposites, LViltshire is comically overloaded. He now professes himself a reluctant adventurer, n-ho would prefer the interior space of domesticity to the outdoor setting of masculine quest romance: 'I \\-as mortal tired of my employment,' he admits as he is organizing the blow-up of Case's devil- shrine in the bush, 'and would like best to be at home and have the door shut'

(p. 62). In a comic reprise of the Gothic terrors disposed of in the previous chapter, i%'7iltshire is terrified by the appearance of his own wife, whom he mistakes for a 'devil-woman' (p. 63). As an adventurer, he is successful in his main objectives-blowing up the temple and killing Case-but incompetent in details;

37 Ibid. 182, 14, 183

38 Both critics categorize Stevenson JS a writer, not on11 of adventure fiction, but more specificall! of imper~aladventure; Hrantlingcr names Stevenson as an exponent of 'imperialist adlenture fiction' (Rirlt, of Dirrk?~ess, 49)- while the title of Dixon's hooL brings Stevenson under the umbrclla of 'colonial adventure'. This classification is highll- debatable. Of his tao great works of ad\enture fiction, one, Treusrrre Icluirtl, is set on an uninhabited island, while the other, Kxltcinupp,i)rti,is set in Stercnson's native Scotland, and here the reader's s\-mpathies are dil-ided between the docile colonial subiect, David Balfour, and the rehcl .llan Breck. who defies English imperialism. The con~ant association of Ste\-enson with Haggard in the criticism of the 1880s 1s probabl!, responslblc for the \\idespread but erroneous ident~ficatinn of Stebenson with the suh-genre of imperial romance. Stelenson ma! hale written thc book that inspired Haggard to write the book that launched the imperial romance (sec &lorton Cohen, Rzder ffu:~:yuril: ffrs L!fi and Il'orkc (London, 1960),85), but Stcvcnson's own writings about the cmpire \\ere resolutely unromantic. Alorco\er, during his Pacliic )ears he rcrisited his earlier uorks of 'innocent adventure' in uays that challenge imperialist dnd masculin~st readings: in The b./i/f-

Tide he rewrote Gerrsure lslnnii as an anti-imper~alist ~nti-romance, and in Cutrronti offered a sequel to Kzdnapped which follows the courtship of David Llalfour, ends nith h~m married dnd ensconced in domestic life, and ua\ published not in a bol's magazine. but In .4tal~intrr. a mdgazine for girls.

39 Llrantlinger. Rnli, qf'Do,kness, 41, Dixon, ll'rrtiny /he Ci~h~n~vi :l~Ii.etz/iri-i.,182

he catalogues a series of mistakes ('I saw I had made a norse mistake' (p. 64); 'presently I saw I had made another slip' (p. 65)) as he pointlessly throws away the lantern that would have helped him see his enem!-, miscalculates the power of the explosion so that he and Uma 'were half buried under a wagonful of earth, and glad it was no worse' (p. 65), and fails to anticipate the lighting up of the woods by coals and brands after the explosion, which leaves them exposed to the hidden Case. Adlenture is mess!, disorganized, and always threatening to slip out of the control of the adventurer, nho 'would like best to be at home' (p. 62)-a wish expressed through the continued use of domestic imagery in this chapter. Wiltshire describes himself in the jungle at night 'walking into trees and swearing there, like a man looking for the matches in his bedroom' (p. 61); the same image appears on the next page where he describes the dead wood in the bush glimmering 'the wa!- the matchbox used to shine after ~ou had struck a lucifer'

(p. 62). This figurative language converts the 'adventure' space of the jungle into a domestic space, reassuringl!. mundane and hmiliar.

This is not to deny that 'adventure' is the means b!- which the plot is resolved; nor do I wish to set aside the disturbing intensity of the satisfaction LViltshire derives from killing his enemy, Case. But the acts of violence in the final chapter are not constitutive of the identity either of 14'iltshire or of the story itself. Already Wiltshire has shown that his identity as a man is defined by two opposing forces. On first meeting Mr Tarleton, he is glad that the missionary has witnessed his fist-fight with Case: 'I smiled to myself. "He'll know I'm a man, anyway," thinks I' (p. 34). Rut a few pages later he offers a quite different definition of manhood:

'Sow, \\-hat I\-ould any man do in my place, if he was a man.:' I said. 'The first thing he n~ould do is this, I guess.' .lnd I took and tore up the [marriage] certificate and bunged the pieces on the floor. . . . '.hi the second thing that he \\-auld do,' said I, 'if he was what I would call a man and you \vould call a man, Alr Tarleton, is to brins the girl right before !.ou or an! other missionary, and to up and saq-: "I was wrong married to this wife of mine, hut I think a heap of her, and now I want to be married to her right." ' (p. 36)

Defined first in adventure terms, as the ability to fight, masculinity is redefined here in terms of domestic commitment. -A tension between opposing notions of masculinity as male aggression and manliness as feminine care and restraint was characteristic of the Victorian ideology of gender.'" Wiltshire, it might seem, tries to have it both ways. In Chapter 5 his willingness and ability to fight secures the removal of Case, leaving him to enjoy both his marriage and his trade undisturbed. Certainl!. one can argue that this battle with the enemy is the climax of an old adventure plot in a modernized, realistic guise: the treasure over which men fight in this story is the copra trade." But as a prize copra has already been declared

10 See C. Nelson, Buys PLNhe G~ris: 7'he Ferr~~nlne Children iF~itlon.IK.ii-1917

Ethti ii12il Br~t~rh (Yea Brunswick, NJ, 1991).

41 The manuscript of 'The Beach of Falesa' includes a 'yarn' b! Case about rivalries betu-een copra traders which was omitted from the serial publication. Ste~enson complained to Colvin 'that is the preparatory note to Case, and the uhole tale: the reader must be shown hou far men go, and Case

secondar!., when Wiltshire sa!-s to Uma "'I would rather have you than all the copra in the South Seas," which was a very big expression, and the strangest thing was that I meant it' (p. 29). LYith his actions in Chapter 3 Wiltshire has decisively placed his marriage before the 'treasure' of trade. And the fight with Case exacts a price, which turns Wiltshire away from 'adventure' modes of self-expression. Case's first shot at Uiiltshire leaves him with a broken leg which, as treated by Mr Tarleton, leaves him disabled for further adventures: 'Mr Tarleton set my leg, and made a regular missionary splice of it, so that I limp to this day' (p. 69). This is in fact the second 'missionary splice' Mr Tarleton has performed on Wiltshire; we may remember that he and Uma were 'spliced in [their] own house' (p. 36) b!- the missionary, in the first of a pair of acts which work together to move Wiltshire out of the realm of adventure and into the realm of domesticity. However, before that movement is completed, the two realms are superimposed in an arresting wa!- through the use of still more domesticating similes. In his description of his first fight with Case, Wiltshire sa!-s that 'the blood spread upon his face like wine upon a napkin' (p. 34). In the final chapter he uses two of the stor!-'s most memorable similes to describe the physical sensations of killing: 'His body kicked under me like a spring sofa' (p. 67) and 'The blood came over m!- hands, I remember, hot as tea' (p. 68). Describing extreme physical violence through references to common household objects, these similes create a disturbing juxtaposition of the adventure fiction mode and the domestic fiction mode, which both familiarizes and defamiliarizes, and simultaneously orientates and disorientates. The fictional worlds of 'Blood Money: -A Tale' and 'Aunt Anne's Tea Cos!-', polarized in Stevenson's 1884 letter on romance and realism (Letters, il-. 308), are here violently yoked together to striking and disconcerting effect.

The tension between literal and figurative language at the narrative's climax graphically illustrates Stevenson's crossing of domestic and adventure strains of fiction in this work, the hybrid nature of which declares itself in the half-caste children who are the subject of its final paragraph. As Uiiltshire expresses his anxieties about his children's futures, he makes explicit the topic of miscegena- tion-the silent heart of the story, and the core of its challenges to generic, moral, and ideological conventions. The strength of these challenges derives from the text's unequivocal endorsement of the Wiltshires' interracial marriage. Patrick Brantlinger characterizes Wiltshire's famil!- life at the end of the story as a 'not quite honorable or even respectable domesticity'," but evidence from both inside and outside the text suggests otherwise. '1s Stevenson wrote to Colvin, IViltshire 'had surely, under his beastly ignorant nays, right noble qualities' (Letters, vii. 282)) and his decision to honour his marriage and stay on the island to care for his

has gone, to get copra' (Letters, vii. 364); however, he neglected to restore the passage when
preparing the text of the first book edition. The 'yarn' appears on p 260 of South Seu Tuiez (note to

P 6).
42 Brantlinger, Rule c<f'Durkness, 42. In keeping with his vieu that the uork expresses nostalgia for
a lost age of heroic adventure, he argues that 'Miscegenation thus parallels the decay of adventure
and imperial domination generally-the uhite man is losing his grip racially as well as politically'
(ihid,).

children is presented as the only decent course for him to follow.4~urthermore, the idea of an 'uneven' match between the white man and the island girl is turned on its head very early in the stor!-. In his account of the marriage ceremony Wiltshire says that Uma 'had carried it the way a countess might' and that 'what with her fine tapa and fine scents, and her red flowers and seeds, that were quite as bright as jewels, only larger-it came over me she was a kind of countess really, dressed to hear great singers at a concert, and no even mate for a poor trader like myself' (p. 12). Figuring the unevenness between them as the gap between a 'countess' and a 'poor trader', LYiltshire's imagery substitutes differences of class for differences of race, with the result that expected hierarchies are inverted- Wiltshire has found 'no even mate' but a better one. The insight revealed through this image is not cancelled b!- the blindness so often expressed by Wiltshire when he adopts the language of self-conscious ideolog!-; rather, the insight and blindness coexist side b!- side, and this is what makes 'The Beach of Falesa' such an impressive example of the use of a limited-consciousness narrator. The final paragraphs show Uiiltshire-with 'his beastly ignorant wa!-s'-still struggling with the defensive anxieties about class and race which have persistently marked his narrative. The moral of his experience has been clear; Stevenson spelled it out for Colvin: 'will !-ou please to observe that almost all that is ugly is in the whites?' (Letters, vii. 282). Yet 'It'iltshire's thinking remains trapped within a racial ideology from which his emotions have been liberated, and which can provide no answers to the social problems posed b!- his half-caste children: 'I can't reconcile my mind to their taking up with Kanakas, and I'd like to know where I'm to find the whites?' (p. 71).

The gap between thought and feeling, ideology and experiential knowledge, which ironicall!-undercuts Wiltshire's rhetorical question implicitly raises a different question for the story's readers, requiring them to compare their attitudes to racial issues such as miscegenation and the status of half-castes with those of Wiltshire himself. And these questions with which the story ends are presented in the guise of the question that is central to the English tradition of domestic fiction (one thinks of the classic exemplars, Austen and Trollope): how to find suitable marriage partners for girls. It is fitting that Stevenson should have used the terms of the domestic no\-el to frame this final challenge about race and racism, as the issue of miscegenation has only arisen in this story because of 'It'iltshire's respect for his interracial marriage and his embrace of domestic life with Uma; the text's generic and genetic crossings are inseparable, and there is a seamless transition from manners (the fake marriage) to morals (will Wiltshire sta!-?) and from morals (his decision to legitimize his marriage) to ideologies (ho~v will he handle the 'problem' of his half-caste children?). The relation between the IViltshires' mixed-race children and the h!-brid text 'The Beach of Falesa' is thus not just analogic, but h!-postatic: they are the material foundation for all the

43 Stevenson described as 'wise and kind' the reasons for staying with his nati~e wife and children given by a trader he had met in the Ellice Islands; as Ernest Mehew points out, these are the same reasons as those gi~en by IViltshire at the end of 'The Reach of Palesa' (Letters, vii. 430 and n. 2).

conceptual crossings, contaminations, and interbreedings that the text proposes. The marriage between Wiltshire and Uma, def>-ing the European taboo on miscegenation, initiates a series of transgressions, both generic and ideological, nhereb!-the story calls into question the boundaries that separate romance and realism, adventure and domesticity, masculinity and femininity, white skin and brown.

With deceptive simplicity, Stevenson described 'The Beach of Falesa' as 'a trader telling his own adventure in an island' (Letters, vii. 161). Ciose reading of the language of ~1~'iltshire's narration shows how the 'telling' unravels the 'adventure', as the narrator's unselfconscious but pervasive affiliation with the feminine, domestic sphere undercuts both the more overt mascuiinist and imperialist elements in his own narration, and the various narrative frames- imperial Gothic, masculine quest romance, homosocial adventure-through which the story seems, at times, to invite us to read it. Stevenson thus uses his limited-consciousness narrator to conduct an ironic review of many of the methods and motifs of his earlier fiction while simultaneously developing this narrative along a different axis of gender and genre. The result is a hybrid text, in which Stevenson explores a series of fictional modes, but with varying degrees of detachment and investment: while the Gothic and adventure modes are intro- duced in order to be debunked, the methods and concerns of the domestic novel provide the organizing principles of the stor!- and its narration. Stevenson had to cross the globe to come home to the native tradition of English fiction, but his 'gipsy strain' meant that he could never write 'a recgr~/urnorel'."' Rather, his juxtaposition of the homely with the unhomely, his exploration of the relation between adventurous masculinity and domestic manliness, his use of imperial space as a theatre of manners and morals, and his embrace of racial difference n-ithin the pale of domestic realism all disrupt the standard alignments of gender, genre, geography, and race which conventionall!- mapped the terrain of Victorian fiction.

44 Gwynn, 'Mr. Robert L.ouis Ste~enson', 780; I,etteys, vii. 231

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