Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Review: 'The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde' by Robert Louis Stevenson

What the blurb said: (Although I'm sure this isn't a mystery to most...)
How thin is the line between good and evil? Dr Jekyll has been experimenting with his identity. He has developed a drug which separates the two sides of his nature and allows him to occasionally abandon himself to his most corrupt inclinations as the monstrous Mr Hyde. But gradually he beings to find that the journey back to goodness becomes more and more difficult, and the risk that Mr Hyde will break free entirely from Dr Jekyll's control puts all of London in grave peril.

What I would say:
I feel kind of weird even starting to review a story that is so well known so, instead of doing that, I'm going to keep it brief and leave this more as a 'recommendation'. First off, I realised how ignorant I was because I had no idea that this was written by Robert Louis Stevenson! Cue shame face...

Also, I might never have gotten round to reading this (thinking I already knew it!) if it hadn't been included in a '100 Free Classics' thing that came with my eReader. But it did, so I decided to give it a go. Lesson #2: This is actually a novella and a brief jaunt at only 80 pages (ePages that is...)

So, this story is more or less embedded in literary culture and is cited in loads of modern media (for some reason The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is the one that sticks in my head!) - so no major surprises there. The narrator is a lawyer by the name of Utterson and, because the story is so short, the action kicks off right away with a tale of Mr Hyde's general despicability.

The chronology is really interesting and we hear all about Mr Hyde marauding about London before we understand why and Dr Jekyll's perspective doesn't come until the very end, making it a fantastic finale.

Overall: Try it - it's a great (short) example of 19th century literature and the dark and brooding London it portrays is fantastically atmospheric! This would probably serve best for someone looking to branch out into 'classic' literature but who is concerned about the time some such novels can take.

If nothing else, it's worth it for the 19th century 'wit':
"If he shall be Mr Hyde...then I shall be Mr Seek"

Classic, no?

3 comments:

  1. Thanks for the review! I've had this book for years and I never got around to reading it. Shame on me. I'll need to pick it up!

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  2. I just read this for the first time this year...I'd seen film versions, but hadn't actually picked the story up until I got a really cool copy of Stevenson's greatest hits as it were. Glad you liked it!

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  3. Thanks for stopping by guys!

    Red: It's totally worth it - go for it :)

    Bev: I really liked it! How did you find it? Apparently it's completely different from the film versions but I haven't seen any of them - now I've finally read it, I can check them out!

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