&&LDIV&&R&&LDIV&&R&&LDIV&&R&&LI&&RThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde&&L/I&&R, by &&LB&&RRobert Louis Stevenson&&L/B&&R, is part of the&&LI&&RBarnes & Noble Classics&&L/I&&R&&LI&&R &&L/I&&Rseries, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of &&LI&&RBarnes & Noble Classics&&L/I&&R: &&LDIV&&R New introductions commissioned from today''s top writers and scholars Biographies of the authors Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events Footnotes and endnotes Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work Comments by other famous authors Study questions to challenge the reader''s viewpoints and expectations Bibliographies for further reading Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. &&LI&&RBarnes & Noble Classics &&L/I&&Rpulls together a constellation of influences--biographical, historical, and literary--to enrich each reader''s understanding of these enduring works.&&L/DIV&&R&&L/DIV&&R&&L/DIV&&R&&LDIV&&R &&L/DIV&&R&&LDIV&&RIdealistic young scientist Henry Jekyll struggles to unlock the secrets of the soul. Testing chemicals in his lab, he drinks a mixture he hopes will isolate--and eliminate--human evil. Instead it unleashes the dark forces within him, transforming him into the hideous and murderous Mr. Hyde.&&LBR&&R&&LBR&&R&&LI&&RThe Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde&&L/I&&R dramatically brings to life a science-fiction case study of the nature of good and evil and the duality that can exist within one person. Resonant with psychological perception and ethical insight, the book has literary roots in Dostoevsky''s "The Double" and &&LI&&RCrime and Punishment&&L/I&&R. Today &&LB&&RStevenson&&L/B&&R''s novella is recognized as an incisive study of Victorian morality and sexual repression, as well as a great thriller.&&LBR&&R&&LBR&&RThis collection also includes some of the author''s grimmest short fiction: "Lodging for the Night," "The Suicide Club," "Thrawn Janet," "The Body Snatcher," and "Markheim."&&LBR&&R&&L/DIV&&R&&LDIV&&R&&LP style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"&&R&&LSTRONG&&R&&L/B&&R &&L/P&&R&&LP style="MARGIN: 0in 0in 0pt"&&R&&LSTRONG&&RJenny Davidson&&L/B&&R&&L/B&&R&&L/B&&R is Assistant Professor of eighteenth-century literature and culture in the Department of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Her novel &&LI&&RHeredity&&L/I&&R appeared from Soft Skull Press in 2003.&&L/P&&R&&L/DIV&&R&&L/DIV&&R
Original publication date
The story is told by Mr. Utterson, a reputable lawyer and friend of Dr. Henry Jekyll. While on a customary walk with an old friend, Mr. Utterson hears the story of a villainous, evil man, one Edward Hyde. Mr. Utterson is shocked and upset to hear that Mr. Hyde not only has a key to Dr. Jekyll's quarters, but that he has recently been named the sole heir to that same friend through his will.
Due to a feeling of loyalty, Mr. Utterson sets to understanding the relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and warning Dr. Jekyll of his uncertainty of the offensive man and his fear for his friend's safety and reputation. Along the way we are given the account of another friend of both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Utterson, one Dr. Lanyon, and then finally the confession of Dr. Jekyll himself. The narrative flows smoothly and it's not hard to follow who is speaking, since the chapters are adequately labeled.
I'm sure just about everyone knows the story, so it won't be a spoiler to say that Dr. Jekyll is, in fact, Mr. Hyde. But the book is worth a read for several reasons. One, it's easy-to-read British literature, and that doesn't come along too often, I've found. It's also a quick read (I don't know the specific number of pages, but it's definitely a novella (less than 100 pages) rather than a novel. And three, Stevenson seamlessly integrated a horror story (at least by 19th century standards) and a true look at humanity's sense of good vs. evil without sounding preachy or boring. His story took the itangible concept (that of man being both good and evil, internally speaking) and showed us what that could look like if that same concept was made physically visible. There are marked physical differences between Jekyll and Hyde, and that's no coincidence. Evil incarnate is much different looking from the average Joe, but that's because the average Joe is both good and evil. I was fascinated by the delicate (and sometimes not so delicate) changes Stevenson made to the character in order to emphasize the differences but, as the story progresses and you see just how far Dr. Jekyll falls, it's intriguing to note just how alike and close the characters become.
I won't give away any details because I think this is a book worth reading, but it just wasn't one of my favorites (probably because I'm not the biggest fan of scary stories). And because of that bias, I give it 3.5 out of 5. Note that this is the first time I've used a half star - this is because when I initially finished the book I gave it a 3, but now that I've had some time to digest and appreciate what Stevenson was trying to say, I want to give it a 4. So we'll settle with 3.5 and call it a day. Maybe I just have a soft spot for British literature (who would believe it, after 4 semesters' worth of reading the stuff?).
The novella revolves around a lawyer who investigates a series of strange events surrounding the repulsive Mr. Edward Hyde, who has mysteriously "befriended" Dr. Jekyll. The most notable of these events is the murder of a high-placed London politician.
Although the story is considered by many a classic, I frankly did not enjoy reading it. Everything just happens so fast, there's absolutely no suspense at all! Things fall into place much too quickly, there's no room for guesswork. It's all too obvious from the very beginning who committed the crimes described in the novella. It's supposed to be a mystery story, let there be place for mystery!
I find that while it would be 'normal' to feel guilt and remorse after conducting such experiments as trying to split your person in two, Dr. Jekyll comes off as stupid, whiny, and selfish. He explains why he conducted such experiments on himself and how Mr. Hyde came more and more often to the forefront, and how he feels he's losing his mind, but did he not think of the consequences of his actions? Did he not think that while being Mr. Hyde, he could potentially cause great suffering? He became so obsessed by his little experiment that he lost the big picture; man is a duality by nature.
The other short stories did not resonate with me as much, but they are still worth a read for anyone interested in Victorian Gothic and horror stories. Stevenson can definitely create a mood, and he writes some very unsettling stories.
This is a collection of stories, notes and commentary. The table of contents says there are 6 stories, but here are really 8. Of the 8, I found the 3 that make up "The Suicide Club" the most interesting. All together the longest story in the book, it seemed to be better written and just flowed better, despite some occasional odd jumping around. Two of the others, "Thrawn Janet" and "Markheim", I really didn't enjoy much at all. Perhaps Stevenson should be better known for his YA/adventure fiction, rather than his horror/gothic fiction.