Sicily today is familiar and unfamiliar, modernized and unchanging. Visitors will find in an out-of-the-way town an Aragonese castle, will stumble across a Norman church by the side of a lesser travelled road, will see red Muslim-styles domes over a Christian shrine, will find a Baroque church of breathtaking beauty in a village, will catch a glimpse from the motorway of a solitary Greek temple on the horizon and will happen on a the celebrations of the patron saint of a run-down district of a city, and will stop and wonder. There is more to Sicily than the Godfather and the mafia.
• Land of Myth and Religious Feast: The myth of Persephone at the lake of Pergusa: the Holy Week processions in Enna and Erice; the festivities for St. Rosalia in Palermo, St. Agatha in Catania, St. James in Caltagirone.
• History in Stone: The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento; Norman cathedrals in Palermo, Monreale and Cefalú; Saracen and Aragonese castles; Arab-Norman-Byzantine mosaics in the Palace of the Normans in Palermo,
• Islands and Cities: The Aeolian Islands with their volcanoes at Stromboli and Vulcano; the hauntingly beautiful cities of Taormina and Cefalú; Mount Etna; the eighteenth-century Baroque towns of Ragusa and Noto.
In 1890 Stevenson settled in Upolu, an island in Samoa, after two years sailing round the South Pacific. He was given a Samoan name and became a fierce critic of the interference of Germany, Britain and the U.S.A. in Samoan affairs - a stance that earned him Oscar Wilde's sneers, and brought him into conflict with the Colonial Office, who regarded him as a menace and even threatened him with expulsion from the island.
Joseph Farrell's pioneering study of Stevenson's twilight years stands apart from previous biographies by giving as much weight to the Samoa and the Samoans - their culture, their manners, their history - as to the life and work of the man himself. For it is only by examining the full complexity of Samoa and the political situation it faced as the nineteenth century gave way to the twentieth, that Stevenson's lasting and generous contribution to its cause can be appreciated.