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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) - R. L. Stevenson

Related: 1886 - 1800s literature - British literature - psychopath - doppelgänger trope - mad scientist trope - R. L. Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), a short novel about a dual personality much depicted in plays and films, also influential in the growth of understanding of the subconscious mind through its treatment of a kind and intelligent physician who turns into a psychopathic monster after imbibing a drug intended to separate good from evil in a personality. [Apr 2006]

Sadie Plant, in her book Writing on Drugs (1999), holds that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) was written on a cocaine binge.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) - Robert Louis Stevenson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]
Image sourced here.


The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (often condensed to simply Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or even Jekyll and Hyde) is a novella written by Robert Louis Stevenson about a lawyer, Charles Utterson, who investigates the strange link between his old friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the misanthropic man Edward Hyde. It was first published in 1886 without the initial determiner "The".

It has been suggested that this book was written under the influence of a psychedelic drug. At the time of writing, Stevenson was being treated with the fungus ergot at a local hospital. Contrary to some rumours ergot contains no LSD, but contains similar substances in unpredictable quantities. It is from derivatives of these that LSD was synthesised, in an effort to produce pure forms of the active ingredients of ergot. It is possible that the book would therefore carry out the theme of the struggle of the self and this was brought about by his accidental experiences with the drug, contributing to his feelings of losing control. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Strange_Case_of_Dr._Jekyll_and_Mr._Hyde [Jul 2005]

Amazon editorial
The young Robert Louis Stevenson suffered from repeated nightmares of living a double life, in which by day he worked as a respectable doctor and by night he roamed the back alleys of old-town Edinburgh. In three days of furious writing, he produced a story about his dream existence. His wife found it too gruesome, so he promptly burned the manuscript. In another three days, he wrote it again. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was published as a "shilling shocker" in 1886, and became an instant classic. In the first six months, 40,000 copies were sold. Queen Victoria read it. Sermons and editorials were written about it. When Stevenson and his family visited America a year later, they were mobbed by reporters at the dock in New York City. Compulsively readable from its opening pages, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is still one of the best tales ever written about the divided self. --


This novel has become a central concept in Western culture of the inner conflict of humanity's sense of good and evil. It has also been noted as "one of the best guidebooks of the Victorian times because of its piercing description of the fundamental dichotomy of the 19th century outward respectability and inward lust" as it had a tendency for social hypocrisy. The story has been adopted in numerous stage and film productions.

The most famous modern adaptation of this story is the comic book character, the Hulk, the powerful and brutishly emotional alter ego of an emotionally repressed scientist who comes forth whenever he experiences extreme emotional stress like anger or terror. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Strange_Case_of_Dr._Jekyll_and_Mr._Hyde [Jul 2005]


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