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This short novel was an even bigger hit than Treasure Island , published three years earlier; what is more it made Stevenson's fortune. It was published simultaneously in England (Longmans, Green, and Co) and America (Charles Scribner), in January 1886.
In the dead of night, a door opens to reveal a monster - the incarnation of absolute evil. This man, of indescribable brutishness, tramples a child in an almost deserted street. Stevenson creates a labyrinth of stories around this sinister opening scene, introducing the reader to one of the best-known yet mysterious characters in British literature. The attacker, a certain Mr Hyde, is found to be a regular visitor to the eminently respectable Dr Henry Jekyll.
In Jekyll's world of genteel, mature bachelors the occasional appearances of the young Edward Hyde - forceful, criminal and yet physically weak - provoke a scandalised enquiry which eventually reveals the joint destiny of Jekyll and Hyde, who are, as they both know, a single man. Dr Jekyll had wanted, in the privacy of his laboratory, to separate the good in man from the evil; he decided to experiment on himself, but succeeded only in separating out his own evil Other.
This is a selection of Stevenson's best critical works, such as "Letters to a Young Gentleman who Proposes to Embrace a Career of Art and Books", which have influenced me. Stevenson's reputation among other writers is unsurpassed. Arthur Conan Doyle owes him a great deal; master storytellers such as Machen, Yeats, Marcel Schwob, Calvino and Borges have all cited him as an important influence.
In his cruelly curtailed twenty year literary career, Stevenson was exceptional in combining precise, dense narration with a brilliantly lucid critique of the author's craft. And as Stevenson was both less arrogant and more talented than the unfortunate Jekyll, these two aspects of his work only brought out the best in each other.
About the Author
Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was born in Edinburgh. He wrote short stories, travel pieces, essays and literary criticism, before producing his two hugely successful novels: Treasure Island , whose genesis he would later recount with ironic tenderness, was only written in 1883, and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in 1886.
Number Of Pages: 109
Published: 3rd February 2005
Dimensions (cm): 19.0 x 12.5