Graham Greene used to say that none of the great literary works he had read as an adult had the effect on him of The Viper of Milan, the ripping yarn he devoured as a child. Perhaps there is a deep truth in this. How many people who might savour the grandeurs, say, of Ford Madox Ford’s Parade’s End or Henry James get the pure thrill of pleasure they got as children when they read the spellbinding stories of Robert Louis Stevenson? Remember the breathtaking magic of Treasure Island or the dazzling suspense and sparkle of Kidnapped: the sinister staircase...
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