‘The Sire de Maletroit’s Door’ by Robert Louis Stevenson

Stevenson, Robert Louis 1878

The Sire de Maletroit’s Door by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1878

The magic trick:

Musical language

A long time ago on the SSMT blog, I wrote about “Markheim” by Robert Louis Stevenson and its wonderfully ornate sentences. So a couple years and a few hundred more stories on, surely I have some hot, new analysis ready for you.


It’s all about those wonderfully ornate sentences still.

I can’t get over it. I’m also probably running out of magic tricks to highlight, but really, these sentences are pretty amazing. The story is some romantic historical fiction silliness. It’s fun if you like that kind of escape. But the reason it’s still worth reading 140 years later is the quality of the writing.

He has a way of writing that feels both elegant and natural at the same time. It’s a long shot better than this 21st century stuff I read. Every sentence sounds musical and very British. I could just hang on these words without even worrying about the plot. And that’s quite a trick on Stevenson’s part.

The selection:

It was September 1429; the weather had fallen sharp; a flighty piping wind, laden with showers, beat about the township; and the dead leaves ran riot along the streets. Here and there a window was already lighted up; and the noise of men-at-arms making merry over supper within, came forth in fits and was swallowed up and carried away by the wind. The night fell swiftly; the flag of England, fluttering on the spire-top, grew ever fainter and fainter against the flying clouds — a black speck like a swallow in the tumultuous, leaden chaos of the sky. As the night fell the wind rose, and began to hoot under archways and roar amid the tree-tops in the valley below the town.


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One thought on “‘The Sire de Maletroit’s Door’ by Robert Louis Stevenson

  1. Everything by Stevenson that I’ve ventured to read has been great, yet there remain large swaths of unexplored territory among his writing that I have yet to visit. I look forward to the time when I do. 🙂

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