Fiction: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson

This was our March challenge book, technically a re-read for both of us and super short!

DadReaction: It WAS a shorty. Too short really–I actually remember it as being longer, but I liked the sense of being taken over by one ghastly part of yourself. It’s one of those stories–Jekyll/Hyde one of those characters–that seem to live beyond the actual story itself, like Don Quixote or Sherlock Holmes. Also liked the oblique narration, getting the story at second and third hand from these peripheral figures. Also: the way stuff develops while some of the characters are just going on with their lives and they have to catch up. Kind of a tiny little gem.

I remember really liking the Spencer Tracy movie of this; Michael Caine’s in one, too–I think he actually impregnates somebody as Hyde and they spawn this grotesque child. Let’s see–Hammer films had a Dr. Jekyll/SISTER Hyde teaser out and Jean Renoir, of all people, adapted the original–Stevenson’s, not Hammer–for French tv.
What did you think? It actually ranks as a comfort book for me, since I read it in High School and can always pick it up again–like Treasure Island. Looking forward to the next one…..

GirlReaction: As you touched on, the thing that strikes me most is how it is such a dramatic story but told in a completely passive manner. Two dudes, going for a calm evening walk, one says to the other “So you see that door? Let me tell you a story about it…” Yet the story is smack full of drama. The events have all already happened off screen, yet even in the retelling they are gripping. All the hearsay and facts gathered from different sources give it a real urban legend feel. I also love the emphasis on the science of the experiments. First he just wants to explore the duality he already senses in himself…but eventually science fails to overcome the darker side of his personality. As he unwillingly becomes more Hyde than Jekyll, the story shifts to fantasy from science.

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