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Victorian sight of Good and Evil struggle.25 octobre 2004
Maximiliano F Yofre
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Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894) was a remarkable author from the Victorian Era. He has left us at least two masterpieces: "The Treasure Island" (1883) and "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1886) and some other good novels such as "The Black Arrow" (1888).
It is amazing how writers and poets are able, thru intuition, to anticipate events or discoveries. When this book was first published, Sigmund Freud was studying with Charcot and not so many years later will produce his theoretic corpus of the human psyche. At some points the present story touches Freud's conceptualizations.
Dr. Jekyll suspect evil burdens every human soul, being an obstacle in its way to goodness. So he investigates and produces a drug that "liberates" the evil spirit and doing so he intend to be relived of it. But Evil starts to grow each time more powerful and Mr. Hyde end cornering Dr. Jekyll into impotence and fear.
This story has captivated the public's imagination for more than a hundred years. Movies, comics and theater pieces had evolved from it. His tortured dual character is now a well known icon as Stoker's Dracula or Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Even if you know more or less the story and its ending, reading this very short book is a powerful adventure. A Classic you shouldn't let pass by unheeded! Reviewed by Max Yofre.
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
Stevenson's psychological nightmare realized17 mai 2004
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Robert Louis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is arguably the single most famous metaphor that Western literature has bestowed upon the public conscience, and certainly the most ubiquitous metaphor for duality of personality. But what of the artistic quality of the novella itself? The outer plot -- involving the detection of Henry Jekyll's double identity by his friend and lawyer Gabriel Utterson -- is the least interesting facet of the story; Stevenson's concept, inspired by a nightmare, and the vivid language he uses to convey it, are what impress the most upon the reader. The respected London scientist Henry Jekyll seems normal enough, but he is fascinated by what he considers to be two distinct sides to his (or, he believes, anybody's) personality, which can be described crudely as good and evil. He furthermore believes these sides are physically separable, just as water can be separated into its constituent elements, hydrogen and oxygen, by electrolysis; and so he invents a potion that essentially splits his personality so that only one side will manifest itself while the other becomes latent. In this way, Jekyll reasons, the "good" side may be an agent of good works without being burdened by the disgrace of an inherent evil, and the "evil" side is free to do his damage without the pangs of remorse he would inherit from the conscience of his good twin. In Freudian terms, Jekyll is the ego, Hyde is the id, but unfortunately -- and this is the point that drives the story -- Jekyll has no superego to tell him that the potion is an irresponsibly bad idea in the first place. In society Jekyll retains his high esteem, but his mutation, the sinister, deformed Edward Hyde, whom he names as an heir as a further disguise of his own identity, is cursed to live in ostracism for his hideous appearance, cruel behavior, and disregard for the law. The fact that Hyde is physically smaller than Jekyll could be symbolic of his moral deficiency or merely reflect the notion that he is only a "part" of Jekyll; but the difference in size is convenient as a plot device because it prevents others from suspecting that Hyde and Jekyll are really the same person. One should not approach "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" as if it were just a primitive example of generic horror. Stevenson excels as a prose writer, suffusing his story with the kind of descriptive nuances that successfully evoke Victorian London at its darkest and most ominous contrasted with the civilized society of gentlemen and otherwise benevolent scientists. I was aware that Stevenson was an essayist, but I was unprepared to find that "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is really an illustrative essay at its base, dressed in monstrous fashion.
9 internautes sur 10 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
The classic horror tale of the beast buried within us21 octobre 2002
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"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is assured a place in the history of horror fiction because it the literary classic that represents the archetype of the werewolf (the human with the hiding inside). Along with Mary Wollstonecraft's "Frankenstein" (the Thing Without a Name) and Bram Stoker's "Dracula" (the Vampire) Robert Louis Stevenson's novella is part of the gothic foundation of the modern horror story. All have in common the fact that they promise to tell a story that might best be left untold, which, of course, is exactly the sort of story we want to hear. Given that Stevenson was writing when the genre of horror fiction was not recognized as such, it is surprising that "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is cast in the form of a mystery novel. Stevenson invites his readers to try and get ahead of the story, to put the clues together and come to the conclusion. Today it is nearly impossible to pick up this story and not know the "secret," but if you think back to the late 19th-century when this story was written you can get a sense for how Stevenson used the biases and limitations of his readers to his advantage in keeping them from what we might consider to be an obvious conclusion. More importantly, Stevenson is writing several decades before the writings of Sigmund Freud revolutionized the whole idea of human psychology. Yet we can certainly find evidence of the conscious and subconscious mind of which Freud would write. Stevenson reinforces this metaphor with the block of buildings that divides this particular part of London, with one side representing the civilized world of a respected physician and the other side the squalor of the world inhabited by an inhuman creature who gives in to his every earthly desire. The novella also speaks to the topic of evolution, with Hyde being described as "ape-like," reinforcing the idea that our most human attributes remove us ever further from the category of mere animal. Of the three classic horror novels, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is the most accessible. Not only because of its shorter length, but also because its evil is more realistic, even in terms of our imagination. We might be unable to reanimate the dead or to become the walking dead, but we can certainly relate to the idea of unleashing the beast buried with us. Even if we could not, we can recognize the "werewolf" in the real world in the form of serial killers who try to show a civilized face to us in public. This is not to say that the novella is simplistic, for Stevenson offers a sophisticated narrative. If this is one of those literary you have never read because you already know the story, then you should take out an evening to sit down and finally get around to reading it.
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
A literary novel masquerading as a tale of horror2 juin 2012
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Although sometimes overlooked, Robert Louis Stevenson's novella of dual identity ranks with Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and Bram Stoker's "Dracula" as one of the great horrific works of the 19th century. I first read it as a boy and I recently returned to it for the upteenth time -- and I'm in my early 50s now. This is one of those stories to which an appreciative reader can relish, over and over again.
That said, I must warn anyone expecting a really good fright that our modern sensibilities probably prevent this book from having that effect. And in fact, "Jekyll and Hyde" was never as terrifying as "Frankenstein," the story of a man who presumes godly powers but creates a monster, or "Dracula," the tale of a creature who seems to have cheated death. Instead, this story of Dr. Henry Jekyll's transformation into a malformed thug is creepy, yes, but also quite sad.
But that evocation of pathos may be the book's greatest strength. As a reader, I am repelled by Mr. Hyde but also feel a great pity for him, so twisted he is in body, mind and soul. Stevenson, able to create those conflicting emotions in his audience, stands as one of our great writers.
I have read that some people reading this book for the first time have been disappointed by the experience, partly because of their own lofty expectations. If you're coming to the book anew, remember that it was written in a different time, long before we had become jaded by slasher films and pointless exercises in cruelty such as the "Saw" and "Hostel" series. This is a marvelous (and short!) tale of a man who lets his humanity slip away into the darkness. Highly recommended.
3 internautes sur 3 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile
When Harry met Edward27 décembre 2012
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Everyone knows the story, or at least they think they do. But as is the case with much classic literature that enters into popular consciousness, much gets lost or forgotten or shockingly misremembered (I'm looking at you, Wuthering Heights, and your freakish misinterpretation as a love story!) Stevenson's tale is both more and less than you probably recall it being, far more reliant on frames within frames in a way that makes you wonder if he wasn't a long-lost Bronte sister and with much less overt in its depictions of evil.
There are many theories regarding the latter and the possible implications Stevenson's apparent timidity: that he was eliding obvious references to homosexuality, or possibly child prostitution, a major scandal over which happened during the time he was writing. I personally think Stevenson left Hyde's perversions deliberately opaque as a way of demonstrating the duality of nature even in his reader, for each of us supplies from some dark corner of our being suggestions as to what the infamous Hyde could have been up to, suggestions all the more disturbing for coming solely within ourselves.
This particular edition includes several other tales that further illustrate Stevenson's fascination with duality and evil, as well as an essay, "A Gossip on Romance" that should be required reading for anyone enrolled in a creative writing MFA program. Rather than seeming extraneous, the extras add to the enjoyment of Stevenson's classic, as does the excellent introduction by Luckhurst, which makes getting to know this particular tale all over again an utter delight.