Posted in Short Stories

Robert Louis Stevenson: Providence and the Guitar

3♠  3♠  3♠  3♠  3♠  3♠  3♠

Leon Berthelini and his wife, Elvira, sing, play the guitar and act.  They do it as a living – or at least attempt to make a living.  Robert Louis Stevenson’s short story “Providence and the Guitar” tells the tale of the age-old plight of the starving artist.  Over the last few years, the importance of artists and their ability to earn money has become somewhat of a fascination for me, so this story came as a nice surprise.

Robert Louis Stevenson: The Complete Shorter Fiction

Leon and Elvira, not knowing where their bed will be from night to night, attempt to find lodging at a small inn.  When they are not allowed there, they settle for a park bench.  On a park bench nearby, they meet a young gentleman with a small amount of appreciation for art and music; however, he plans to become a banker – but he isn’t one, yet.  He accompanies his new-found friends through a turnip field to a house and a domestic dispute – between a painter and his wife.  The source of the dispute: money.

No real determinations or rationales are formed as to what artists should or should not do in order to make money.  Leon makes the comment: “Art is Art…It is not water-coloured sketches, nor practising the piano.  It is a life to be lived.”

As the would-be banker leaves his friends he comments:  “They are all mad…all mad – but wonderfully decent.”

I liked the story more than I thought I would.  It seemed rather wordy at the beginning; however, as I read on, it became more and more – well – “wonderfully decent”.

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