The Master of Ballantrae
A Winter's Tale
ISBN 9780140434460 | 288 pages | 01 Jan 1997 | Penguin Classics | 5.07 x 7.79in | 18 - AND UP
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In December 1887 Stevenson wrote that he had 'fallen head over heels into a new tale ... a most seizing tale; there are some fantastic elements; the most is a dead genuine human problem - human tragedy, I should say rather.' The Master of Ballantrae opens in the old Scottish house of Durisdeer, ancestral home of the Duries, a family divided by the Jacobite rising of 1745. Its adventure draws in sea voyages, piracy, buried treasure, magic and nightmare, and centres on the fatal rivalry between two brothers, James and Henry, and the wealthy and beautiful kinswoman who loves one brother but marries the other. 'The Master is all I know of the devil,' Stevenson confessed, and the satanic, virile, seductive figure of James Durie dominates the novel. The family servant Mackellar narrates The Master of Ballantrae and his divided loyalties dramatize the question of 'mastery' which, in his introduction to this Penguin Classics edition, Adrian Poole identifies as a vital theme in Stevenson's tragic masterpiece.