Title: Strange Case of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde
Author: Robert Louis Stevenson
Few books can claim cultural impact comparable to that of Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde.
Robert Louis Stevenson's exploration of the duality of human nature has
influenced literature, theatre, film (123 movies so far), television
and even psychological terminology. The American comic book industry,
in particular, owes Stevenson an enormous debt. The most obvious
derivative is The Hulk but the broader concept of hidden identity is
central to the superhero idiom. My own interest in Jeckyll and Hyde was prompted by The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, in which Jeckyll/Hyde is a core team member.
the story in 2013 is a bit strange. 127 years after its initial
publication, the once shocking plot twist is well-known, even cliché.
As such, the big reveal on page 76 of my copy has lost the impact it
would have on the unsuspecting. We are so jaded by the deluge of
imitations since that one easily fails to appreciate the ingenuity of
the initial work. Original artistic ideas are scarce and should be
Given the familiarity of the
basic narrative, the task of the 21st century reader is to appreciate
the execution. Stevenson's prose is richly detailed, quite often the
case with Victorian era literature. As such, the reading can be tough
going even in a relatively short book. However, there's no denying the
Scot's masterful world-building. In critique, Stevenson generally earns
high praise for setting but I found his descriptions of characters -
apart from Jeckyll/Hyde - to be lacking. I don't know if I would pursue
more of his books based on this reading. I've managed to avoid Treasure Island to this point. Maybe someday.
Nonetheless, I am glad to have read Jeckyll and Hyde for the sake of cultural literacy and geek cred. As for the League
interpretation, the physical dimensions of the character are altered.
In the original book, Jeckyll shrinks when he becomes Hyde. In the
world according to Moore and O'Neill, he grows, Hulk-like. However, the
character's amorality and violent tendencies are maintained.