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Tuesday, October 02, 2007

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

by Robert Louis Stevens

After finishing Jekyll and Hyde I felt much the same as I did when I finished Dracula. Enlightened. All my life I have seen or heard tidbits of information from the book and I've seen distortions of the original story but now I KNOW the original. Puzzle pieces of information fit together, characters are more than a name or a bit of trivia, and in both cases, the original telling of the story is better than any movie or take off.

It's refreshing to read a classic that a regular person can understand why it's been a beloved story for so many years. As the story progressed I compared it in my mind's eye to eating an artichoke. Each leaf brought you closer to the heart of the matter, but revealed only a tantalizing morsel at a time. The story was told from Dr. Jekyll's friend's point of view. He had to work to reveal each part of the mystery. I can see that reading this book without knowing the heart, the climax, the end; the reader would be as confused and curious as Jekyll's friend. Even knowing the climax of the story, Stevenson's writing held me captive.

Jekyll and Hyde was published in 1886. It would have made a great pick for the 15 Decades/15 Books Challenge. I would encourage you to consider it for next years Decades Challenge.

Now to compare the book to the movie, rather the musical. That's right - a musical of Jekyll and Hyde. It's actually pretty good. Ready for another shock? The lead is played by David Hasselhoff! You know, the Bay Watch and Knight Rider guy.

I thought the musical was marvelous and Hasselhoff does a amazing job - amazing because I was surprised, but he was also good. His depiction of the battle between Jekyll and Hyde for control of their shared body is outstanding. You really need to see it.

How did it compare to the book? The movie takes lots of liberty. In the book Jekyll is a middle-aged man (50-ish) and Hyde transforms into a younger, evil man. The movie has both men in their late 20s, and Jekyll is engaged to be married. There's no love interest in the book. Murders in the book - one; several in the movie. The movie is told from Jekyll's point of view and the book from the friend's.

My recommendation would be to read the book first and then watch the musical. Both worthwhile, but the book is the best.

22 comments:

Orange Blossom Goddess (aka Heather) said...

That book cover is so creepy!

Cassie said...

I read this book in highschool and I don't think I got that much out of it. Mainly because it was a quick read for a book report. I've only heard a song or two from the musical (not sung by Hasselhoff) and I liked them a lot. I might have to check it out.

Petunia said...

A musical starring Hasselhoff? Dispite your assurances to the contrary, it sounds like a lot of cheese to me. =)

I reviewed this book last month. I learned some interesting trivia about it.

hellomelissa said...

oooh, i think i'll look for this on audio! what a perfect halloween read.

J. Kaye Oldner said...

Dropping in to my favorite blogs to see what everyone is reading!

Me said...

I've always liked Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde as well as Dracula and have read both several times. Another interesting book (and very eye-opening when compared to the musical) is The Phantom of the Opera.

Fleiger said...

I don't remember whether I read the condensed version or the full book. But definitely remember that the book lives to all the hype, and then some.

Kay said...

I really need to think about reading this. I'm not much of a reader of the classics (reminds me of assignments), but I think I might take a whirl at this one. Thanks for the review. Really, David Hasselhoff? :)

Eva said...

Sounds good! I'm giggling at the musical. Maybe I'll toss this on to my classics list if you host another winter classics challenge.

Lynne said...

I really need to read some more classics, so I'm putting this one on my wish list. Thanks for the review.

Carrie K said...

RLS is a heck of a storyteller, isn't he?

Read the book afterwards! Unless you're not like me and spend the whole thing muttering "Well, *that's* wrong."

raidergirl3 said...

Like you, I imagined how it must have been to read this when it was published, not knowing the story inside out. I imagine it was super creepy.
A Hoff musical? wow, it sounds interesting though. My frame of reference was an Arthur music video about Jekyll and Hyde

Court said...

I love this book, and you've explained it well when you compared it to the artichoke. :) Next time I read it, that is probably what I'm going to be thinking about. ;)

Framed said...

I'll try to keep this in mind for the Decades Challenge. I liked Dracula so I'll probably like this one also. BTW, when are we going to watch Dracula?

Bookfool said...

It's been a very long time since I read Jekyll and Hyde. I enjoyed it, but I don't think I found it enlightening - just surprising. There were little things about it that I didn't expect. I don't recall ever seeing a movie. David Haselhoff is a skipster actor, for me, though. I never liked him. My sister was addicted to the show with the talking car and now I can't remember the name of it!!

jenclair said...

David Hasselhoff? Really? And a musical? I must check into this.

Lotus Reads said...

I heard the audio version of this book, I remember enjoying it thoroughly...it really makes you think about the good and bad in each of us, doesn't it?

Les said...

I've never read this, but your review has my interest piqued. I know it's not the same, but for some reason I kept thinking of The Invisible Man as I read your review. That was a fun book to read, too!

Dewey said...

I was assigned this in high school, but I think I read very little of it and mostly relied on the teacher's lectures and class discussions to grasp enough to seem like I'd read it. But then a couple years ago, I really did read it, and I just really enjoyed it. I wonder if I would have enjoyed it then, too, if it's just being assigned something that puts a damper on it, or if I found it boring then. My son really gobbles up all his assigned high school reading, so I wonder if I was just... less mature then than he is now.

Sorry to go off on a private tangent there, but sometimes other people's posts really provoke our own memories of certain books, don't they?

Callista said...

Great review. I need a spooky classical novel for my new classical theme challenge group, I will consider this.

I've linked to your review at the Book to Movie listing.

gautami tripathy said...

I am on verge of finishing it. I will post my review in a couple of days.

Jeane said...

I have been intending to read this and Dracula for a long time, having realized there's more to them than just horror. Thanks for the review!