Thursday, 29 August 2013
One Man's Opinion: THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE by ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON
I'll admit it - I've deliberately avoided reading this book for years. I suppose it's entered folk-lore and spreads through thoughts and cultures still. It's revered by many and I was a little concerned that I'd be disappointed by the book. What a fool I've been.
When I was in the library a couple of weeks ago, it was there face out and calling to me. It seemed so slight and vulnerable among the weighty tomes that I just had to do it. Boy, am I glad I did.
Unfortunately, I forgot to write down my memorable quotes before returning it, but there's so much for you to find out about this one that my lack of input is hardly going to matter.
I was somewhat taken aback by the brilliance of this story.
First of all, there's the way the story is revealed in snapshots. The disquiet and the sinister aspects of the story bite straight away, but I was always hungry to unpeel another layer to get to the bottom of things, even with my prior knowledge of what I would eventually find (imagine reading a book like this with no sense of what it was about - how amazing that would have been).
The language is exquisite. A vocabulary that's at least a couple of pegs above my own is used to keep things tight and minimal. With very few words, Stevenson manages to offer a complete picture of a scene or an idea.
The characters are superb, from the upper strata of the social set to the butlers and servants of the world.
Extraneous story elements just don't exist. In one scene, the lawyer Utterson visits a doctor to find out information. The scene is set and time and place are perfectly fixed. In terms of the conversation, there's no fluff. All the preamble is missing and all that's offered is the meat that is necessary to feed the tale.
I'd love it if some of the craft and skill on show here were to seep into my words and wonder how much better I might be as a writer if I'd come to this a long time ago.
The book's brilliant. The horror and darkness are cold and clammy. The plight of Jekyll is terrible yet understandable (who wouldn't enjoy that liberation from the cerebral ways of the human for a while?) and absolutely tragic.
The only question I am left with related to the pronunciation of the author's name. A friend of mine tells me the middle name should be pronounce 'Lewis' and he generally knows. Maybe drop a comment if you concur.
All in all, it's a must read - don't hesitate and pop down to the library or load that kindle right away - either way, it's free.