17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
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.
21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
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.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
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.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 26 October 2005
This novel is a classic! Robert Louis Stevenson (of Treasure Island fame) had a dream/nightmare, awoke and immediately wrote down the tale; this novel.
It is only around 85 pages long which is very short, this however is a brilliant thing because most novels are way to long, this can be read again and again in no time!
The story is set in a sinister/magical Victorian London and as most people are aware; it is a tale of dual personality. The good Doctor Henry Jekyll creates a serum to turn himself back and forth into the evil Edward Hyde, after a little time however he cannot get rid of Hyde!
If you love literature, real honest to goodness classic British literature and gothic horror set in the magical world of Victorian, foggy London, then read this!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 7 January 2013
I have read "Jekyll and Hyde" before, many moons ago when I was younger. Even then, it didn't "grab" me like I had expected. So I re-read Stevenson's classic tale with hopes of having my opinion changed. Unfortunately, I just cannot enjoy this novella as so many others have.
It is written well, with a suffocating and haunting atmosphere through the pages as Jekyll's grim experimentation is slowly revealed. The concept was revolutionary for the time and I would say it probably still is to be considered a very different basis for a novel within the sphere of what you might call "serious literature".
The narration style is, again, different and the story is detailed through differing narrators and provides an interesting juxtaposition of the perspectives of characters as Jekyll begins to lose control over his desire to be Hyde. His addiction (which could be interpreted in a modern sense, as an addiction to the effects of mind-altering drugs and a subsequent change in the mental perception of yourself) is desperate as Jekyll seeks to be the kinder, more moral version of himself rather than the passionate, primal Hyde.
However, there was something about it that meant it didn't hold my attention as I had wished it would. Due to the other (far more positive) reviews, I am sure it is more to do with me rather than the book itself. I so wished I could have enjoyed this but for some unknown reason, I was left underwhelmed.
I would recommend it to read as it is an absolute classic but if you don't enjoy, please know you are not alone!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson.
The book is now 'in the public domain' which means a free download and it's well worth grabbing yourself a copy if only to familiarise yourself with the real story and compare how different it is to the film and TV versions. If you can get yourself past the obvious language and phrasing differences that are bound to occur in a story originally published in 1886 you are in for a real treat.
Stevenson created some great characters in his work and some of his best are here. From Mr Utterson the lawyer, a man who loves the theatre but hasn't been to one for twenty years, through to the '..troglodytic..' Mr Hyde who is just thoroughly unpleasant but; more man than monster.
Hugely entertaining and this download comprises the full version rather than a short story.
43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is one of those books - rather like its Victorian fin-de-siecle counterparts Dracula and The Picture of Dorian Gray - that transcends its limits as a novel. The idea of the scientist who discovers a potion that transforms him from a mild-mannered and respectable citizen into a beast who tramples upon children just because they are in his way has entered the public consciousness; it has become the stuff of legend with the result that even those who have not read the book feel they know the story. All the same, even allowing for the fact the novel's success has rendered its surprises common knowledge, the original is well worth returning to: Stevenson's prose is so elegant it positively purrs and the ideas underlying the story are troubling, fascinating and compelling in equal measure.
It's quite easy to see why the novel is held in such high regard. To begin with it taps into a very primal fear, one swirling through the fog of late-Victorian Britain following the work of Charles Darwin and the revolutionary ideas emerging from the new sciences of psychology and psychoanalysis, namely that we are all at the mercy of our genetic past. We may be civilised on the surface but scratch away the thin veneer of respectability and you discover the beast within. Secondly the story is told in such a brilliant fashion. Now we all know the answers but the original readers of the book must have been fascinated as to just why the vile, brutish Mr Hyde had such a hold over the charming Dr Jekyll. Similarly why is Jekyll so reluctant to engage the help of his friends? Why, in particular, does he spend so much time in his laboratory. The descriptions in the novel are beautifully handled: the fogs in the streets; the echoing footsteps; the brutal murder. Jekyll and Hyde was published two years before the Whitechapel murders and readers at the time must have linked the two and been terrified by the resulting possibilities. Jack the Ripper was clearly a monster, but if we passed him in the street in broad daylight wasn't there a possibility that he could be just as likeable, just as respectable as the urbane Dr Jekyll? Finally, what struck me upon rereading the book recently, is the fact that Jekyll rather likes being Hyde - not in the sense that he likes what Hyde does (he clearly doesn't) but he likes Hyde's ability to act free from moral constraints. If we thought we could get away with something evil and reap the rewards without being caught would we give it a go? It's easy to say 'of course not' and act the perfect citizen but really, if opportunity presented itself? Could we be so sure?
In short I cannot recommend this fascinating little tale enough. It's frightening, thrilling, beautifully written and it makes you think. Like all the best ideas the notion of a fractured personality made manifest is brilliant and simple at the same time. Fabulous stuff - and fully deserving of its iconic status.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2007
'You must suffer me to go my own dark way. I have brought on myself a punishment and a danger that I can't name.' (Dr Jekyll)
Stevenson's remarkable novel explores the 'other' face of Victorian respectability, the underbelly of a society 'profoundly committed to the duplicity of life.'
The setting of novel lends itself to horror. We are in London, a filthy degraded place, full of labyrinthine streets. We are blinded by fog, searching for a 'creature' who evades detection at every turn. We wander the streets with 'gentlemen' who have a pronounced predilection for night walks and alley ways and speak in 'masculine' codes. Their nightly Insomnia suggests sexual restlessness and with no women in sight, and lots of male friendships, this fin-de-siecle text rather suggests the unlawfulness of homosexual desire.
Then we abruptly encounter the inhuman figure of 'Mr Hyde' as he stamps maliciously on a helpless child. This transgression of any residue of civilised behaviour catapults the novel into horror where it lingers for the rest of the narrative. We spend time gazing at a 'blistered and distained door' through which the unspeakable Hyde makes his way and we metaphorically lose our respectable ways!
Ironically for a novel written by Robert Louis Stevenson, 'Tusitala', 'a teller of tales' the tale refuses to be told. This is because the narrative is initially dependent upon the voice of the unprepossessing Utterson, ironically a man who fails to utter anything in terms of personal disclosure or revelation. This secrecy is then reinforced by other restrictive narrative viewpoints, thus confining the 'secret' of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde to conjecture - the strait jacket of Victorian repression. (And yes, there is a joke in there!)
For who is the final teller of this macabre tale? The last voice we hear in the novel is that of Dr Jekyll, yet we know he died as the infamous Mr Hyde, and that we are only privy to this knowledge through the 'eyes' of Utterson who never comments about it .He just disappears into respectable silence. Each time I read the novel I am always aware of the missing voice in the text and feel rather bewildered at the lack of any stable conclusion to the novel. We are just left with the voice of the very much resurrected and undead Jekyll/Hyde voice who finishes his own novel after all!
Read it at night and lock your door!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.