The Master of Ballantrae opens in the old Scottish house of Durrisdeer, ancestral home of 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.
Set at the time of the Jacobite uprising, The Master of Ballantrae tells of a family divided. James Durie, Master of Ballantrae, abandons his ancestral home to support the Scottish rebellionleaving his younger brother Henry, who is faithful to the English crown, to inherit the title of Lord Durrisdeer. But he is to return years later, embittered by battles and a savage life of piracy on the high seas, to demand his inheritance. Turning the people against the Lord, he begins a savage feud with his brother that will lead the pair from the Scottish Highlands to the American Wilderness. Satanic and seductive, the Master was regarded by Stevenson as "all I know of the devil"; his darkly manipulative schemes dominate this subtle and compelling tragedy.
This edition takes as its text the Edinburgh Edition of the novel, the last approved by the author. The introduction considers the novel's inspiration and its place as one of Stevenson's greatest studies in cruelty.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. He is well known for his novels of historical adventure, including Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped (1886), and Catriona (1893).
“If a strong story, strongly told, full of human interest, and absolutely original in its situations, makes a masterpiece, then this may lay claim to the title.”—Arthur Conan Doyle
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