on 11 July 2006
The first time I sat my Junior Honours year at Aberdeen uni I signed up for a class on Scottish Lit. Among a few other titles this was one of the two that really blew me away. Stevenson wrote the piece in a few nights, the pace is cracking. It charts the fracturing of Henry Jekyll a talented and awkward young doctor. Upon creating a medical powder an ingredient is off and when testing the drug it transforms him into a distorted, twisted version of the man he once was.
Thematically exploring the repression of homosexuality and the dangers of drug use, the most interesting part of the story is its reaction to Darwin's (at the time mind-bending) theories of evolution and the symbolism Stevenson uses to make this point.
The book is modernist but easily appreciated by the reader, it's very short and despite Jekyll's transformations, pretty straight forward. Despite being set in London, my teacher pointed out the books Scottishness and that the London in the book has many similarities with Edinburgh.
The main reason I feel people should read this book is simply that everyone knows the story; it's so ingrained in pop culture. Yet the book itself is so horrifying and atmospheric that it is completely new to read.
The text in this version is clear and a good size. Definatly give it a go, it's rewarding read.
Before reading this edition, I had only ever encountered this classic stroy through versions on film. Years ago I saw the version with Michael Caine, and because of this I brought a lot of preconceptions to my reading of the novel. Having read this edition now, I am glad that I bought one with such a good introduction to the tale. The introduction opened my eyes to aspects of the novel that otherwise I would have missed.
The novel is very different to the story I remember from the film version. In the film a lot more attention is given to Jekyll. The novel however concentrates on the lawyer, Mr Utterson, who is a friend of Jekyll and fears that the evil Mr hyde is somehow blackmailing his friend. As the introduction explains, Mr Utterson feared that Mr Hyde may have been blackmailing Jekyll because of homosexual acts that they were involved in (something which apparently occurred at the time of the writing of the novel). Of course the truth is far worse than this assumption.
I think anyone is aware of the basic stroyline - that Jekyll makes up a potion which turns him into Hyde; a person who is amoral and evil, and who committs terrible acts. In a sense, it is quite a simple idea. But the meanings can be taken much further. For example, consider the idea that every single human being is essentially 'made up' of two such people - one who is capable of good, the other only capable of bad. Also, something which I could not help but think about while reading, is why would a good person want to unleash such a person into the world? So, following on from this, how 'good' was Jekyll in the first place? This is perhaps one downfall of the novel; the reason for him carrying out his experiment is not discussed in great lengths, so questions remain as to why he did such a thing to begin with.
This book will always be a classic. All around us we see good and bad being done by ourselves and others. And although it may not go towards explaining why such things occur, the story continues to conjure up philosophical questions which remain as relevant now as they were when first written.
If you have never read this novel, please do so. It is very different to how you may know this classic of horror.
This is a very good audiobook reading of Stevenson's gothic classic. Once I started listening to this I was utterly gripped and couldn't stop till it was finished - a brilliantly told story performed very well.
on 9 March 2011
A great study aid. The audio is very well done and creates an appropriate atmosphere. Excellent for use in the class - it certainly beats me trying to read it! The notes are also excellent. Very thoughtful and incisive.
on 15 July 2014
A classic I just had to read.
Recently read, Dracula & The Invisible Man. This one just added a certain finesse to my book collection.
Though, like The Invisible Man, I would not consider this book to be a Horror. More of a tragedy.
A scientific experiment that at first seemed marvelous, turns sinister and ultimately leads to a dark downfall.
Though hard to read in some places, with the use of long lost english words and phrases, this book is still a short and sweet read.
The edition I read however had some strange changes.
Considering the author was Scottish, I found it odd that the words "Color" and "Ass" were used, as appose to what you'd expect from a Scotsman.
Overall a good read. An interesting and sad one in my view. But a good one at that.
A man and a child accidentally bump into each other at a street corner – a normal everyday incident. But when the child falls down, the man deliberately tramples over her, ignoring her screams of pain. When he is stopped by passers-by, he shows no remorse. This is the reader's first introduction to Mr Hyde, a man who has no obvious deformity but gives off an air so repellent that strangers passing him in the street shudder without knowing why. But this man has some kind of hold over the eminently respectable and well-known scientist, Dr Jekyll, who not only pays compensation for Hyde's actions, but also gives him the run of his own house, and has made out his will in Hyde's favour, leaving him everything should Jekyll die... or disappear. Jekyll's friend and lawyer is at a loss to understand, but feels it his duty to discover more about the mysterious Mr Hyde...
Because the story has become so phenomenally well-known, the reader is way ahead of Mr Utterson, the lawyer. In the novella, it's not till near the end that it's revealed that Mr Hyde is the result of a scientific experiment gone horribly wrong. But it's so well written that knowing the story doesn't hamper enjoyment in any way. Stevenson builds up the tension and horror beautifully, with one of the best uses of London fog I've come across, both as providing a cloak for wickedness and vice, and as a metaphor for the darkness within each human soul. Darkness features throughout, with fog rolling into houses, and Mr Utterson having to face the terrifying climax with only the feeble flicker of a candle to light his way.
Dr Jekyll refuses to tell Mr Utterson anything about his strange friend, but assures him that he could get rid of Hyde any time he chose. Mr Utterson has to accept that and let the matter rest. But one day, months later, a woman looking out of a window sees a horrifically brutal murder take place. The description she gives of the murderer could only be of Hyde. Mr Utterson races to Hyde's address in sleazy Soho, but too late! He has vanished! Dr Jekyll seems nervy and upset, but after a while begins to get back into his old routines. Then some weeks later, Mr Utterson receives a visit from Dr Jekyll's servant – it appears that Mr Hyde is back...
There is more than an element of morality tale about the story. Dr Jekyll has always liked to indulge his vices – mostly left, incidentally, to the reader's imagination, which works so much better than lengthy graphic descriptions would have done. But now that he has become a well-known figure, he has to think about his reputation. So he decides the solution is to split his personality between good and evil. But the experiment doesn't work the way he hopes – the Hyde side is indeed purely evil, but the Jekyll side doesn't change – he still retains all his vices and weaknesses even when in that guise, and gradually the Hyde side begins to take control. The suggestion is that, if one gives in to one's evil side, it will always become dominant, so we must guard against it at all times. It's not nearly as preachy as I've probably just made it sound, though. First and foremost, it's a thrilling, chilling tale of horror! Great stuff! I hereby forgive Stevenson for boring me in Kidnapped...
on 30 December 2010
Whilst at first I thought the story would be another wordy classic with close attention to detail needed to understand the plot, I was wrong.
What I had *thought* was the strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was infact something totally opposite! I had seen spin-offs and had a general idea of what the story was about, but reading the original always prevails.
If you have any doubt over what the story is, buy this book and read away, you won't be disappointed. The description of characters and places is very well done by Stevenson, and you can really picture Utterson, Hyde, Jekyll and even poor Cafew in very fine detail.
on 13 July 2008
Being like most people in the modern world, i had several preconceptions about the tale of Jekyl and Hyde before even picking up the book. I have seen umpteen televisual interpretations and seen everyone who displays even the slightest piece of out of the ordinary behavior be described as having a "Jekyll and Hyde" personality by the media. I wasnt quite prepared for what i found inside this little gem though.
The story itself is just seventy pages and all too easy to read in one sitting. The language can be a little challenging on a tired brain at times, but the feel you get from the way the words have been constructed is nothing short of genius.
A dark tale about the reclusive and retiring Doctor Jekyll and the devestatingly wicked Mr Hyde is strung together by the narrative of Jekyll's lawyer friend Utterson, it is of course a truly gothic story of good and evil competing for space inside one mans conciousness, but also a reflection on how abuse of a substance can lead to losing a grip on who we really are, how hard it can be to accept what we have and the perils of striving for some forbidden pleasures.
An amazing read for those who love victorian fiction, horror, thrillers, mysteries or just life changing books.
The story goes that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote this novel in just two days, whilst sick with a fever. His wife, who was nursing him, read the completed manuscript and deciding it was rubbish - the deranged ramblings of a very ill man - she threw it onto the fire. Not to be deterred, her husband simply rewrote this story - in another two days.
We may be glad of Robert Louis Stevenson's perseverance, as this is a truly astounding novel. At the time it was first published, it was a shocking tale, but whilst modern readers will be familiar with the Jekyll and Hyde concept, they may still be captivated by the quality of the writing and the true horror drawn out in the author's words, which have a sinister quality that the countless film and television versions and variations over the years have failed to match.
This isn't just a horror story - it's a book about appearance and reality, and about our notions of who we are and how we are viewed by others. That's not to mention that old chestnut of good versus evil - but here, played out in two sides of the same person. Stevenson's fascinating ideas are brilliantly executed in this little masterpiece of a novel.
This is not a review of the story itself - I think there is enough information out there about that! This review is about the actual edition of the story.
I bought this off Amazon for £1.99 which I thought was a bargain - it IS, but be aware that the text is small and tightly packed onto the page. It is however well printed and perfectly readable as a result. I have seen a cheaper Puffin edition where the headache-inducing text was so cramped on the page that you had to really concentrate to stay on track - very off-putting to say the least!
The Jekyll and Hyde story takes up 50 pages of the 232 pages book and this edition also includes a short introduction, bibliography and some end notes if you are at all interested in these things. Overall I think this is a decent edition - it is a bargain but rest assured the quality is there and the pages are a good thickness and NOT like tissue paper! :)