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

Rating 9.4/10
Murder and monstrosity on the streets of Victorian London.

Murder and monstrosity on the streets of Victorian London.

Nineteenth century London can be a very dangerous place. Beneath the prim and proper morals of Victorian society lurks a violent madman who emerges at night to commit the most cold-hearted of crimes. Nothing is known of him except his name: Mr Hyde.

Just who is this evil man? A lawyer and a doctor beginning their own investigation are shocked to find that Mr Hyde is an acquaintance of their respectable friend Dr Henry Jekyll. Worse still, Dr Jekyll is unwilling to listen to stories of Hyde’s chilling behaviour, and retreats into his laboratory work when confronted. But as the months turn to years and the violence turns to ruthless murder on London’s streets, Dr Jekyll is finally forced to confront the chaos, and to admit that he can no longer hide from Mr Hyde…

This short novel, or novella, whose full title is The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, was written by Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson in 1886. It is one of his best-known books and has remained in the public imagination for well over a century; its sheer eeriness and brilliantly shocking twists have inspired numerous popular adaptations.

As would seem fitting for a tale as strange as this, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde comes with a number of literary legends attached. One states that gruesome scenes from the story first appeared to Stevenson as nightmares. Another suggests that the impetuous author torched the first full draft after criticism from his wife. Neither myth may be true. The only certainty is that Stevenson’s book very cleverly captured the clear contradictions of Victorian society, demonstrating the awful consequences of keeping man’s natural animal instincts locked away beneath the strict ideas of ‘decency’. Jekyll and Hyde is a terrifying glimpse into the dark depths of the mind.

About the author
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850, into a family of famous lighthouse engineers. Robert soon realised that engineering was not for him; on trips with his father around the Scottish coast he instead discovered a love of adventures and stories, and by the age of twenty-one he decided to become a writer. His first books were accounts on his travels around Europe, but he later went on to write fiction, notably the children’s novel Treasure Island – featuring parrots, pirates and Long John Silver – and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, an early psychological thriller set in London.

Stevenson was a sickly child and health problems plagued him throughout his life. Hoping to find a climate that would ease his suffering, he spent periods living in Europe, America and the Pacific islands. These voyages influenced his imagination and gave him a particular interest in strange lands and the strangeness – and frailty – of human life.

Stevenson was popular in his day but criticised by early twentieth century authors for writing money-spinning commercial fiction. He has since been acknowledged as on of the great authors of English literature. He died in 1894 in Samoa, where he and his wife and stepson had finally made a home.

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The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde reader reviews

from India

10-stars

Awesome book. Do I have a double inside me? Maybe. Review was outstanding.

from Estonia

10-stars

It was good.

from Pakistan

7-stars

Really cool book, loved doing the book review.

from Winchester

8-stars

A novella that explores the deep and dark recesses of the human psyche - brilliant.

from Australia

10-stars

I read this for my poetry course. Enjoyed it, it makes you think whether we all have a double inside us, just waiting to be released. Great book.

9.1/10 from 6 reviews

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