I feel I would be remiss in not recommending something classic for the season (I confess — I am nothing but a big kid when this time of the year comes round; it’s the Irish in me, I tell you!) With delicious autumn in the air, leaves and pumpkins to think (kick?) about, and ever-sinister Halloween upon us, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would be a lovely choice for your edification and spine-tingling amusement .
Robert Louis Stevenson was born in beautiful Edinburgh, Scotland in 1850, and his masterpiece was published in 1886. Mr. Hyde was the prototype, the “blue-print” if you will, for characters, such as Norman Bates from Hitchcock’s Psycho, Hannibal Lecter and Freddy Krueger. The story unfolds as the protagonist, Mr. Utterson, discovers a creature known as Mr. Hyde committing unspeakable atrocities. Utterson investigates and is compelled to link the crimes to his good friend, Dr. Jekyll. He soon discovers that Dr. Jekyll has succeeded in creating an alter ego, Mr. Hyde, that allows him to separate his good and evil inclinations and house them in separate personas. What happens next is truly horrifying, and I am never one to betray a good shock; if you know the story only through the classic films, you really don’t know the story. So you must read it to find out what really happens.
Dr.Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a psychological thriller that is set in Victorian England (like Dracula, and some years after Frankenstein) when so many scientific discoveries were occurring; science must have felt like magic, as it still often does. Things that seemed impossible, or previously relegated to the supernatural (in all its forms) became commonplace. This novella is inspired by the “science or supernatural question” and the effects of such new discoveries. Personally, I have lived my life as a man more of science than the supernatural, but not with scoff or complete “disbelief.” I live with a sense of wonder and embrace possibilities of the unknown. This story is one that feels distorted, disturbing and a cautionary tale of how such discoveries can and, eventually, will corrode our sense of selves and morals.
“Deep,” scary thoughts for the Victorian era and our own. Perfect for an October night.