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Literature: Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde

About the book

The Strange Case of Dr Jekkyl and Mr Hyde is a novella (Short novel).

Robert Louis Stevenson explores the very nature of man in this classic horror novel. Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale. Robert Louis Stevenson’s masterpiece of the duality in man’s nature sprang from the darkest recesses of his own unconscious-during a nightmare from which his wife awakened him, alerted by his screams. More than a hundred years later, this tale of the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll and the drug that unleashes his evil, inner persona-the loathsome, twisted Mr. Hyde-has lost none of its ability to shock. Its realistic narrative chillingly relates Jekyll’s desperation as Hyde gains control of his soul-and gives voice to our own fears of the violence and evil within us. Written before Freud’s naming of the ego and the id, Stevenson’s enduring classic demonstrates a remarkable understanding of the personality’s inner conflicts-and remains the irresistibly terrifying stuff of our worst nightmares. (Penguin via Readings)

Themes to Explore

  • The Duality of Human Nature. Through Jekyll's discovery of Mr Hyde and his subsequent discovery of how to separate the two sides of his nature, we are able to examine the very nature of what it is to be human. ...
  • Appearance Vs Reality
  • Morality
  • Class
  • Repression
  • Rational Vs. Irrational
  • Legacy and Impact

About the author

Robert Louis Stevenson (born Robert Lewis Balfour Stevenson; 13 November 1850 – 3 December 1894) was a Scottish novelist, essayist, poet and travel writer. He is best known for works such as Treasure Island, Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Kidnapped and A Child's Garden of Verses.

Born and educated in Edinburgh, Stevenson suffered from serious bronchial trouble for much of his life, but continued to write prolifically and travel widely in defiance of his poor health. As a young man, he mixed in London literary circles, receiving encouragement from Andrew Lang, Edmund Gosse, Leslie Stephen and W. E. Henley, the last of whom may have provided the model for Long John Silver in Treasure Island. In 1890, he settled in Samoa where, alarmed at increasing European and American influence in the South Sea islands, his writing turned away from romance and adventure fiction toward a darker realism. He died of a stroke in his island home in 1894 at age 44.

A celebrity in his lifetime, Stevenson's critical reputation has fluctuated since his death, though today his works are held in general acclaim. In 2018 he was ranked, just behind Charles Dickens, as the 26th-most-translated author in the world.  Wikipedia

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