The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Review)

November 8, 2010

Book cover for "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" by Robert Louis Stevenson.Title: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Author: Robert Louis Stevenson

Narrator: Scott Brick

Publication Year: 1886

Pages: 256 (audio length: 3 hours 7 minutes)

Genre: Fiction

Source: Free audio download from AudioSync

From the cover:

When a brute of a man tramples an innocent girl, apparently out of spite, two bystanders catch the fellow and force him to pay reparations to the girl’s family. The brute’s name is Edward Hyde. A respected lawyer, Utterson, hears this story and begins to unravel the seemingly manic behavior of his best friend, Dr. Henry Jekyll, and his connection with Hyde. Several months earlier, Utterson had drawn up an inexplicable will for the doctor naming Hyde as his heir in the event that he disappears.

I’d thought, looking at the audiofiles, that this version seemed a bit short: only 3 hours? But apparently it’s unabridged, and so my thoughts about it are valid – something I was afraid wouldn’t be the case if it was a shortened version.

But, alas, there’s the truth of it: I absolutely hated The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

You know that old adage of writing that says a good writer should “show, not tell”? Well, apparently Stevenson forgot about that basic piece of advice while writing this book. Almost the entire story is told from the perspective of Utterson, but not “as it happens” – rather, it is told as if he was re-telling the story to someone in his living room. Everything is complicated by his thoughts and feelings and opinions, rather than just letting the reader watch the events. I’m a girl who loves to read action and dialogue – not chapter upon chapter of internal monologue.

Is there something I’m missing here? If you loved this book, please chime in: I had really thought that I would enjoy this based on the premise and its status as a “classic”, and was very surprised at my dislike for it. I’d be open to suggestions for things to consider while attempting a re-read at a later date.

Rating:

9 Comments

  • Teacher/Learner November 8, 2010 at 7:23 pm

    That’s too bad you didn’t like it 🙁 I enjoyed reading it in my 19th century lit class. Maybe it’s because you had the audio version? I have written a short review of the book here.

  • M (notarevolution) November 8, 2010 at 7:38 pm

    When I read in one of your previous entries that you were going to read it, I wanted to comment and say, “No! No! Just don’t!” Because I had the same experience that you did, though I didn’t listen to the audio version but instead read the book. It’s such a familiar story (especially in pop culture) but the original goes wrong with its structure, I think. The beginning and middle are so slow, and the final chapter gets to the meat of it but by that point, even though the book is so short, I almost didn’t care.

    However, I hope this doesn’t steer you away from Robert Louis Stevenson. I recommend Treasure Island – it’s a fun read (who doesn’t enjoy pirates?!).

    • Carina November 8, 2010 at 8:29 pm

      I loved reading Treasure Island last month! I agree – it’s just so slow through most of it, and then suddenly it’s all out there, but it’s just too late.

  • Amy November 8, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    I didn’t mind this, but certainly didn’t love it. Not a fan of a lot of the old white classics though either 🙂

  • erisian23 November 10, 2010 at 6:03 pm

    AudioSync?
    why have i never heard of this?

    and why for the love of cheese do they only allow access to these books for the summer?

    🙂

    • Carina November 13, 2010 at 9:04 pm

      I don’t know! I just happened to stumble on it over the summer. I hope they do it again. 🙂

  • the Ink Slinger November 28, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    I’m sorry to hear that you didn’t enjoy Jekyll & Hyde. I found it to be a riveting, thought-provoking piece of fiction. It’s one of my favorites.

    I have to respectfully disagree with you about Stevenson’s method, though. I don’t believe that he forgot to “show, not tell”. You said that it sounded like Utterson “was re-telling the story to someone in his living room”. But I think that’s the point. Utterson is recounting the events that befell him, much the way Watson recorded his adventures with Holmes. Kind of like you’re reading his journal.

    I appreciate your thoughts on the book, but I think you should give it another try, and approach it with a bit more patience.

    • Carina November 29, 2010 at 9:44 am

      Perhaps I’ll try again at a later date, and see how it goes. Everyone has different tastes, though – it might just not be for me.

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