Sunday, June 17, 2012
Classic Lit: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Date: 1886 (1981)
Source: purchased used
Read: as part of the pre-college TBR cleanout/for A Victorian Celebration
Reading time: one day
From GoodReads: A good man takes a potion that turns him into a freak of pure evil. A reasonable scientist is transformed - through the agency of science itself - into the living embodiment of unreason. Like the vampire and the werewolf, the sundered personae of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have worked their way into our collective unconscious, expressing both our ambivalence with science and our deepest questions about what is knowable in human nature.
My review: The set-up of this novella was a bit weird to me; it seems like similar short fictions are usually written as either present-tense narratives or as past-tense letters, not as both. The first half of the book provided a great build-up of suspense and mystery as the lawyer Utterson begins realizing that something is not quite right with his old friend, Jekyll. The second half - consisting of an explanatory letter from Jekyll - was a little bit of a let-down in terms of dramatics. It was still certainly interesting, though, delving into questions of morality, identity, and psychology. Overall, the novella was a nice, quick, engaging read, with a good pace and a fascinating premise.