(Paperback | ISBN 9789386702661 | 160 pp | September 2017)
In 1878, Robert Louis Stevenson, author of classics such as Kidnapped and Treasure Island, embarked on a walking tour of the Cévennes, a mountainous region in south-central France. His travelling companion was Modestine, a diminutive donkey with a mind of her own who, over the course of the journey, bore some of his provisions and much of his rancour. Modestine and Stevenson tramped without plan or purpose through scenic villages and fearsome forests—reportedly infested with man-eating wolves—depending on peasants, Trappist monks and passersby for supplies, shelter and directions. They were beset by storms and unhelpful residents, but were also granted views of splendid vistas and cold, clear nights. And, over twelve days, 200 kilometres, and many shared adventures, Stevenson came to love his obdurate, manipulative little companion.
Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes has inspired generations of later travellers and writers, from John Steinbeck—and his Travels with Charley—to Bruce Chatwin and Graham Greene, including present-day hikers who retrace the Robert Louis Stevenson Trail. Written in timeless prose, and with biting wit, this slim volume is a treat for all readers.
‘The best journeys are the ones that zigzag and go nowhere, especially when you are accompanied by a stubborn little donkey. This little account of one such journey is a classic for all times.’
‘Stevenson’s masterpiece, a “little book” that describes a wayward, inconsequential journey and a strange love affair (with a donkey) in which, as in all the best journeys, the author finds himself renewed, refreshed and, returning from his travels, once more ready for the fray.’