14. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Nabokov (who bought the rights to Jekyll and Hyde) implores to readers, "Please completely forget, disremember, obliterate, unlearn, consign to oblivion any notion you may have had that Jekyll and Hyde is some kind of mystery story, a detective story or a movie." Of course I found that impossible being that this story had been retold hundreds of times in my own lifetime. It has become a staple of Halloween. Certain aspects of the novel are frequently credited as being a prominient ancestor to our modern mystery and detective stories. How does one erase such lore from one's consciousness and go on reading the thing?

Well, the answer is to just relax knowing it is not necessary. The answer is to skip right past the pretencious literary introductions added to books way after the fact and read the thing itself. I admire Nabokov greatly but for his own fiction, not his haughty justifications others'.

Anyway, despite the high Victorian style and language, I really dug this novel. It is a remarkably strange 72 pages. Well worth the trouble. Here is a copy in hypertext:

http://etext.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/SteJekl.html

While you are at it, you might want to browse the other texts that the University of Virginia has been converting to hypertext.

http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/collections/languages/

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