Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Secret Sharer, and Transformation: Three Tales of Doubles, a Longman Cultural Edition

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Secret Sharer, and Transformation by Robert Louis Stevenson
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bookshelves: literary-criticism, literature

I mainly picked this up somewhere b/c it had something by Mary Shelley that I hadn't read yet, b/c it was cheap enuf, b/c I'm interested in "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (wch I've probably already read), b/c I hadn't read anything by Conrad yet (despite his being one of those authors that I've intended to read eventually), & b/c it's a critical edition - in other words, for plenty of reasons - all of them satisfied.

The perqs of a critical edition being things like editorial commentary, reviews of the stories both contemporaneous w/ original publication & later, & other relevant writings - in this case by Darwin & Nordau. All of this was satisfactorily presented here & I may find myself consulting this edition from time-to-time for things like chronologies. There was much to learn from this.

The over-all theme of "Three Tales of Doubles" is of substantial interest to me & is addressed adequately here - albeit somewhat in the reserved spirit of the older writing presented as its main thrust. The few bits of critical writing re the Stevenson, eg, that attempt to update perceptions of it fall flat for me by being too academic. Take, eg, William Veeder's claim that "At stake in Jekyll and Hyde is nothing less than patriarchy itself" - I don't buy it. But, no matter, the critical reactions that follow the tale itself are from a plethora of varied writers & were interesting to read.

The more I read Mary Shelley, well, the more I think she was a very important writer - even when I don't always like the style.

This bk stimulated my interest in "George Eliot" who I've heard from people who've read her bks is "boring" &, yet, she's described here as "the first legitimate fruit of our modern atheistic passions" by critic W. H. Mallock in 1879! Now I HAVE to read her! & this bk, in general, has restimulated my interest in late 19th/early 20th century British writers - after I reached a sortof "been there, done that" peak many decades ago.

It was fascinating to read re Stevenson that "To the Samoans [who he lived w/:], he was "Tusitala" ("teller of tales"); in gratitude for his defense of them against exploitation by European and American colonists, they built a road to his estate, Vailima: "The Road of Loving Hearts"."

&, then, THE FOOTNOTES: Lardy, 100 yrs ago I reckon many literate people had studied Greek & Latin & cd read in the original. 50 yrs later that wd be almost completely gone. NOW (this bk's from 2009), literate things that I take for granted as obvious are explained in footnotes as if they're totally obscure - reminding me of how much things have changed in my lifetime.

Take, eg, this phrase: "cast the die for any for any tempted and trembling sinner" has this footnote re "die": "singular of dice; metaphorically, played a chance or hazard". That needed to be explained?! According to my college professor in Creative Writing friend: YES!!

&, then, in criticism of Stevenson's poem "My Shadow" it's written that the shadow is "more than a little anarchic" - always a word choice that catches my eye. We get to "anarchy" again in the writing of Max Simon Nordau whose ideas on "degeneracy" conclude that "it can scarcely be doubted that the writings of revolutionists and anarchists are also attributable to degeneracy." This latter was published in 1892.

One has to wonder what Nordau, as a "Jewish German-Hungarian doctor, journalist, and opponent of modern aesthetics" wd've thought of how neatly the nazis applied similar ideas to the suppression & genocide of Jewish German-Hungarian culture! Wd Nordau have developed a new appreciation for the "revolutionists and anarchists" who wd've probably tried to save his arrogant ass from the concentration camps?! Or for the artists whose work the nazis condemned in critical language almost identical to his own?

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Reading Progress

Started Reading
July 21, 2009 – Shelved
July 21, 2009 – Shelved as: literary-criticism
July 21, 2009 – Shelved as: literature
July 21, 2009 – Finished Reading

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