Prince Otto.

By Robert Louis Stevenson

Printed: 1900

Publisher: Chatto & Windus. London

Dimensions 14 × 20 × 4 cm

Language: English

Size (cminches): 14 x 20 x 4

Condition: Very good  (See explanation of ratings)

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Item information


Black cloth binding with gilt title on the spine.

  • F.B.A. provides an in-depth photographic presentation of this item to stimulate your feeling and touch. More traditional book descriptions are immediately available.

      A nicely kept edition once treasured by a Stevenson’s descendent

Prince Otto: A Romance is a novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson, first published in 1885. The novel was largely written during 1883. Stevenson referred to Prince Otto as “my hardest effort”, one of the chapters was rewritten eight times by Stevenson and once by his wife.

The book’s plot: needs to be read to be properly followed.

Prince Otto evades his escort near the borders of Grünewald (a tiny country within present-day Germany) while out hunting and enters the neighboring country of Gerolstein. There, he takes shelter for the night under an assumed disguise with Killian Gottesheim, his daughter Ottilia, and her suitor Fritz. While discussing the state of affairs, the revolutionary Fritz expresses dissatisfaction with Otto’s rule as does Killian, though with more respect and restraint on the latter’s part. It is revealed that Baron Gondremark has both wooed the Princess Seraphina and begun preparations for a revolt in hopes of expanding Grünewald’s borders. The next morning, Ottilia defends the Prince as an honorable man and after further discussion, while still concealing his true identity, he offers to purchase Killian’s farm to ensure his family’s management and they agree to meet in Mittwalden, the capital of Grünewald, in two days.

Once Otto returns to his castle, he confers with his cousin Doctor Gotthold about his faults of character. They are interrupted by Chancellor Greisengesang, who bears a letter written by a Sir John Crabtree, an English visitor to the court, detailing Seraphina’s indiscretions with Gondremark as well as his own affair with Countess Anna von Rosen, as well as his plans for the country. Deciding to confront Seraphina, Otto meets with Countess von Rosen in the princess’s antechamber while she and Baron Gondremark agree to go forward as planned in their political scheme, but have not yet become involved physically. Otto, upon meeting her, commands Seraphina to limit her interactions with Gondremark as they smack of an affair, which she vehemently refuses to obey, stung by his accusation.

The Princess summons a council early, spurred on by Gondremark, with the intention of declaring war on Gerolstein, but Gotthold refuses to make his own voice heard with the prince absent; Prince Otto arrives unexpectedly at this moment and adamantly refuses to go to a war unprovoked and dishonourably, despite Baron Gondremark’s explanations that it would be advantageous. Seraphina angrily rebukes him for never having bothered with being a ruler before and interfering in a plan to bolster the wealth and confidence of Grünewald. Prince Otto, having been refused the funds to purchase Killian’s farm, offers to find an alternate solution or to abdicate his throne, but not before rescinding Seraphina’s authority to sign orders and documents. Gondremark then suggests a plot to lure the Prince away on a hunting venture while they orchestrate the execution of the revolt.

Otto seeks Countess von Rosen’s aid in stealing the necessary funds from the treasury, which she agrees to, but privately he rebukes himself for his own dishonesty. However, the Countess offers him the funds out of her own wealth, and they share a tender moment before he completes the transaction. Having narrowly avoided a lapse in honor, Otto plans to share his good deed with Gotthold. The doctor, however, sternly rebukes Otto for having seemingly stolen treasury funds, publicly humiliating Seraphina, and for being seen in an intimate manner with the Countess. Otto refuses to disclose how he came by the funds or that his interaction with the Countess was innocent, but is deeply wounded by Gotthold’s opinion of him and forgives him sadly. The Countess meets with Gondremark and intercepts the order for Otto’s hunting excursion under the pretence of arranging matters but privately delivers it to the Prince; recognizing the apparent futility of action, Otto quietly acquiesces to the terms of the arrangement. The Countess then visits Princess Seraphina and reveals her affair with Gondremark, rebuking her for her ill treatment of Otto; Seraphina signs the release for Otto and holds an audience with the Baron, where she stabs him in a fit of rage when he parades his affair before her, realizing at last his untrustworthiness. After summoning Chancellor Greisengesang to conduct the wounded Baron away for treatment, she flees by night.

Unbeknownst to Seraphina, once the populace is made aware of Gondremark’s injuries, a republic is declared in Grünewald. Seraphina flees through the woods intent on reconciling with Otto. Along the way, she encounters Sir John who, acting on his recent friendship with Otto despite his distaste for the Princess, conducts her most of the way by carriage to the Felsenburg, where Otto is imprisoned. Meanwhile, Otto discovers that Doctor Gotthold has also been imprisoned, and upon encouragement from Colonel Gordon, the arresting officer, both forgive each other. Unaware of the revolution, Countess von Rosen arrives with his release order and they depart together until they encounter Sir John, who informs them of Gondremark’s wounds, prompting the Countess to ride away, presumably toward the capital. Otto races toward Seraphina and they both agree to put their past lives behind them, living together with a newfound love for one another. A bibliographical postscript relates that they live together in her father’s court, while Grünewald is eventually absorbed into the larger state of Germany.

Robert Louis Stevenson (born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson; 13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer. He is best known for works such as Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Kidnapped and A Child’s Garden of Verses.

Born and educated in Edinburgh, Stevenson suffered from serious bronchial trouble for much of his life, but continued to write prolifically and travel widely in defiance of his poor health. As a young man, he mixed in London literary circles, receiving encouragement from Andrew Lang, Edmund Gosse, Leslie Stephen and W. E. Henley, the last of whom may have provided the model for Long John Silver in Treasure Island. In 1890, he settled in Samoa where, alarmed at increasing European and American influence in the South Sea islands, his writing turned away from romance and adventure fiction toward a darker realism. He died of a stroke in his island home in 1894 at age 44.

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