Friday, November 28, 2014

"There was a man of the Island of Hawaii..."

It's day 5 of Book Week Scotland, and I am continuing with my pledge to read a piece of Scottish literature to my family every day! As it's Friday evening and for once none of us had to rush off anywhere, I had time to read something a little longer than the things I have been reading for the past few days, namely, Robert Louis Stevenson's story The Bottle Imp. 

This story is a particular favourite of mine. I've blogged about it before, in a post called Tempered in the flames of hell, which is a quote from the story. It concerns a "man of the Island of Hawaii" who buys a bottle containing an imp who will do the bidding of whoever owns it. There are two catches: firstly, that if someone dies whilst in possession of the bottle they will go straight to hell, and secondly, that it can only ever be sold at a loss. So the price is forever going down, and as it becomes lower it becomes more difficult to sell the bottle on, because when there is no lower price the last owner will be irrevocably damned.

Bottle Imps, as I've explained in my previous blog about them, were not invented by Stevenson, but he gives his own style and character to the story with its beautiful and exotic location, and the gorgeous language and descriptions. It also has a very satisfying ending, and if there is one thing I hate it is a cop-out ending; this isn't.

I can't say much more without risking an enormous spoiler, but if you wish to read the story for yourself, the entire thing is available online here: The Bottle Imp. I thoroughly recommend it!

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