Edward William Bok > The Americanization of Edward Bok > Page 113



Edward William Bok (1863–1930). The Americanization of Edward Bok. 1921.

Page 113

the press notices of their books, and those who were indifferent to them became a fascinating game to young Bok. He soon discovered that the greater the author the less he seemed to care about his books once they were published. Bok noticed this, particularly, in the case of Robert Louis Stevenson, whose work had attracted him, but, although he used the most subtle means to inveigle the author into the office to read the press notices, he never succeeded. Stevenson never seemed to have the slightest interest in what the press said of his books.

One day Mr. Burlingame asked Bok to take some proofs to Stevenson at his home; thinking it might be a propitious moment to interest the author in the popular acclaim that followed the publication of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Bok put a bunch of press notices in his pocket. He found the author in bed, smoking his inevitable cigarette.

As the proofs were to be brought back, Bok waited, and thus had an opportunity for nearly two hours to see the author at work. No man ever went over his proofs more carefully than did Stevenson; his corrections were numerous; and sometimes for ten minutes at a time he would sit smoking and thinking over a single sentence, which, when he had satisfactorily shaped it in his mind, he would recast on the proof.

Stevenson was not a prepossessing figure at these times. With his sallow skin and his black dishevelled hair, with finger-nails which had been allowed to grow very long, with fingers discolored by tobacco—in short, with a general untidiness that was all his own, Stevenson, so



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