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In writing this, his third, book for boys, Stevenson turned from scenes and characters of pure invention to real people and places of a minor incident of Scottish history. The Appin murder, which provides the turning point of the story, has thereby become known to thousands who had not before heard of Alan Breck or the wrongly condemned James Stewart. The Highlands, in their unsettled state after the '45, are made the setting for the adventures of the sober David Balfour, in whose prim ways and staid talk Stevenson found the contrast with the rebel spirits of the Highland Jacobites. Save for the change of year from 1752 to 175 1, he keeps very close to the historical facts, as may be seen from the outline of these latter in the chapter on the Appin murder on another page. A single episode of this kind, grafted on to imaginary adventures, just suited Stevenson's genius for romantic incident, while it did not lay upon him the physical strain of managing a full stage of historical characters in the manner of Dumas or Scott. Thus Kidnapped has the features of both an historical romance and a boy's book of adventure. In blending the two Stevenson satisfied his young readers, and compelled the admiration of such non-adventurous bookmen as Matthew Arnold and Henry James.
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