Primary Genre(s): Gothic Mystery, Horror, Novella
Published: 5 January 1886 by Longmans, Green & Co.
Page count: about 54 (depends on format/edition)
My Format: eBook via Hoopla
Would I recommend it: Yes
Commission Link: Buy The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
My rating: ★★★★☆
It is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde.
I’m almost 50 years old and I’ve never read this book. I’m glad I’ve read it now. Also, presumably everyone knows the general story so I am not going to worry about potential spoilers below. If you haven’t read it, some of my discussion points below may be considered spoilers so be warned. Here are my pros and cons for The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde:
- Perfect period gothic. I could read books like this all day long!
- The sense of darkness and foreboding was palpable.
- I love how everyone described Hyde. They’d start by describing his physical characteristics but then they’d end up discussing how uncomfortable they felt just from looking at him. It was a great way to hint at Hyde’s character without revealing that he truly was evil personified.
- I didn’t expect the story to be told from the point of view from someone other than Jekyll/Hyde. I started reading this book thinking I knew everything about the story and right off the bat I discovered I was incorrect. I don’t know why I presumed a specific POV narration, but it was a pleasant surprise to discover I was wrong.
- I’m sure everything from essays to doctoral theses and more have been written about the duality of man and the significance of this story with regard to that concept, so I won’t go into here. Suffice it to say, I think the actual physical depiction of the duality in this story (good vs. evil) was impactful, compelling, terrifying, and so very gothic.
- I can’t even believe I am writing a con for a classic like this, but here goes… I thought the writing was a bit choppy, and it wasn’t because of the formal writing style because I’m pretty used to reading books from this period. I occasionally felt like I was reading about random, isolated events without knowing how the event fit into the general story. Even the transitions from chapter to chapter felt disconnected at times. The overall story was incredible, don’t get me wrong, but I felt I had to work at staying connected a bit more than usual for me. I have to wonder if my preconceived notions of the story influenced how I actually read the story as written.
I did not know as much about this story as I thought. I knew it was about a man who takes a potion to become evil and then he does terrible things… and that actually is the general plot. But the impact of the story is much deeper than that… much deeper indeed. I would encourage you to read the Wikipedia entry for this book. It includes information about Stevenson’s inspiration and writing process, analysis of the theme of duality (good/evil, public self/private self, etc.), and the reception of the book upon publication.
If you would like to read this book and form your own opinion, please consider purchasing through this link: Buy The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. Thanks!
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(image from Goodreads)