Friday, August 25, 2006

Hyde and Seek

Just finished listening to the Librivox production of Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. David Barnes, the narrator, has an excellent voice for this part for several reasons. For one, it isn't an American accent. It is believable that this voice is directly from a character out of the 1800's. Second, he has adopted a kind of bland style for this reading, which is totally in character with the story. It isn't sensational. Sure, it can mesmerize, and requires a bit more concentration and attention to get everything.

Apparently, i never read the story before. The dozens of Jekyll & Hyde references in comics, TV, etc., manage to mislead. Has no one read this book? For example, the Marvel Comics villain Mr Hyde is huge and strong like the Hulk, and Dr. Jekyll is small and spindly. This is in sharp contrast to Stevenson's vision. I also expected that Jekyll's motivation was going to be a sort of fountain of youth, rather than an exploration of consciousness. Seeking after youth might have been more believable, even if Dr. Jekyll's motives were supposed to be unselfish and pure.

Also, i'd thought of this classic as a bigger book. At just about three hours, it's really a short story. I find it easy enough to read about three times as fast as the spoken word. So it stands that i might have devoured the text in an hour. Had i known that, i'd likely have read it much sooner. It's also packaged in chunks just under an hour each. This made it easy enough for me to consume on my hour long commute, each way, every day.

Like Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's Frankenstein, this science fiction work is also horror. I'm not really much into horror. Hyde is a monster. To look at him is to understand disfigurement, even though the eye does not find it. Ordinary onlookers are given a supernatural ability to sense evil.

So, i liked the book, the narrator, the audio quality, and the packaging. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a classic that should not be missed. And, as both the text and the audio are available for free, there's hardly any excuse not to enjoy it.


a spoonful weighs a ton said...

Hi Steven, I enjoy reading you web-log.

Stephen said...

Thanks. I suppose your real name is David?