Original title: R.L. Stenvenson South Sea Tales.
Title of this edition: R.L. Stenvenson El diablo de la botella y otros cuentos.
Author: R.L. Stevenson.
Editorial: Alianza Editorial
Edition year: 7, 1992.
Synopsis [Warning: Spoiler]: Strictly speaking, not all the stories belong to the South Sea Tales, but the majority do, that’s why I pick that translation of the title. This are the stories:
The Body Snatcher. Basically, this is a tavern story telling us the lives of two young doctors… that use to work for one of the most famous doctors in Europe… and they where in charge of getting the bodies for the lessons. The business son becomes illegal as the shortage of bodies turns them into killers.
Markheim. Markheim is a man that has lost all his belonging trying to become rich in the shares market. Now, to try once again, he decides to stole an antique shop. He murdered the owner and is alone in the house while a supernatural being approaches him and discuss with him what to do next, either kill the maiden or face the law and maybe get killed himself.
Olalla. A soldier who needs to recover from his wounds goes to live with a family to their big house. They were noble rich people in the past, but marrying among themselves for many generations has corrupted their sons. But Olalla is different, is beautiful and intelligent, and the soldier becomes in love with her. Son it is clear that the house is a big danger for the soldier and he has to leave abandoning Olalla behind.
The Bottle Imp. There is a bottle that grants wises because there is a demon inside. The only problem is that if you die and the bottle belongs to you, then your soul belongs to the demon. The only way of get rid of it is selling it to somebody else… but it has to be less value than the price you pay for it. This goes on until a man in love gets the bottle. He gets everything he needs for him and his wife, and sells the bottle… until he discovers he is ill and going die. He needs the bottle again to save his life, but now the value of it is so low, that there is only 3 more owners to go. But he buys it and he has to sell it again, and his wife buys it… and…
The Beach of Falesá. A British copra trader arrives to a south sea island where there is a tribe of natives and a few Europeans. For no reason the natives don’t trade with the British. Son it becomes clear that one of the Europeans is making the natives to believe he has superpowers. The British discovers the plot and destroys the altar the European uses to trick the natives.
Personal Review: In general, I liked them, but the feeling is that some of them are unfinished.
The Body Snatcher. I liked this one the most. You know, using dead bodies to study them was a big problem for many centuries. The dead were sacred, and it was forbidden to do experiments with them. That’s why I think the men that started to do this experiments probably had very interesting stories to tell. In many cases probably paying for bodies augmented the killing… but obviously it has to be done. I like it because it shows at the same time their passion for science a this little bit of horror that you can find in novels like Frankenstein.
Markheim. I think this one is a good story, even if the final is bad. I think it is good because it lets you feel like you are doing the robbery, like feeling the tension for it. Which I don’t like is the fact that obviously, the guy doing the crime is not a smart one. I say so because he lost his money on the stocks and he wants to get more money… to try again the same. I will prefer a smart guy who has to steal because an unlucky turn of the destiny.
Olalla. This one is bad because it didn’t explain what is going on in the house. On top of that, it can be real this noble people living on… on what? Where the money comes from? It creates a situation too artificial to be real and then it didn’t explains the story.
The Bottle Imp. I think this one is very good. The deal with the demon is good and tricky. And the way it provides the wises is cool. Also, the love story is good. But the end is bad because the man didn’t become wiser, and up to the end he is still greedy and fool.
The Beach of Falesá. The good thing of this is the weeding with the native. Many books telling similar stories don’t tell about that point. It seems that when Europeans arrive to those islands, it was tipicall for them to get married with a girl on the town… to have sex, to have somebody to take care of him, and to make deals with local chiefs. At least the guy here tries to solve the problem…