Like much classic literature, Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is much more referred to than read, despite being available in every public library, literary anthology and open source ebook download.
But this quality of gothic tale is best heard read aloud, preferably performed by a true thespian who can imbue every syllable with menace and hint of meaning. And Ian Holm cannot be bettered. This is a brilliantly atmospheric and spine-chilling narration, conveying all the moody psychology of the dual personality that is Jekyll-Hyde (here with the Scots pronunciation 'Jaykul').
Anticipating Freud's idea that the unconscious mind's thoughts and desires drive the behaviour of the conscious mind, Stevenson is probably reflecting Romans 7: 18-20: 'For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.'
Written, by all accounts, in a creative frenzy of just a few days and revised in as few weeks, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was an instant and long-running success, quickly inspiring stage performances and then film, radio and television adaptations. The CSA Word production is complete and unabridged - and this story has, if anything, become even more terrifying and cautionary after almost 125 years in an age when mind-altering drugs are freely available, when indulgence and excess are celebrated rather than reviled and criminality tolerated and glamorized.
* * * * *
© copyright 2010 AudioBooksReview. All rights reserved.