Friday, March 18, 2011

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson

It's frankly embarrassing that I have never read this novella.

This book suffers from modernity (or is that postmodernity, I can never decide).  That is, I have been so massively exposed to far worse and more terrible, violent, and horrific tales just in getting out of bed of a morning, that the novella just failed to thrill me.  Reading it was more of a chore than a pleasure.  I just didn't feel it.  I think there are scarier things on Nick Jr.  Culturally, we've moved on.  I also think we've embraced our darker sides more openly than in the era this was written, so someone being self obsessed, interested in (presumably) sexuality and experience is not the jaw dropping horror it may have been in yesteryear.  I know, I exaggerate, but still, popular culture has moved on. 

I get that the novella is a lesson in suppressing the self, and the strength of - okay, I can't resist - the Dark Side.  But overall, I prefer the Star Wars "there's always hope for you in the end, even if you're a homicidal Sith Lord and killed a whole bunch o' people and cut of your son's hand and stuff" brand of lesson, than the "I guess it just went bad, whoops, there you go don't go and do bad stuff, peeps," brand of Dr Jekyll.

Is this review frivolous?  Perhaps.  I blame that potion I drank earlier...

I found the lack of insight of Jekyll/Hyde simply frustrating.  This was something he decided to do to himself.  He kept at it out of some moral passivity that was annoying, killed someone, felt bad, tried a bit harder, but ultimately seemed to blame the fact he ran out of some kind of salt for his complete reversion to his 'evil' self.  Some finer moral reflections on these actions might have been nice.  And the message that, if indulged, our "baser" instincts lead straight to some kind of evil takeover is a tad simplistic and naive for my liking.

One to read, though, definitely.  It's important in the very shaping of the stories we now take for granted, and I'm very aware that I'm reading this work from a particular cultural and social position.  For that reason, it gets -


Another Kindle for iPad e-read, this one was free, there are heaps of free and 99 cent versions of the classics out there!

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