Thursday, August 21, 2014

Doctor Jekyll, Mr. Hyde From Memory...?

I can only imagine what would have happened had Robert Louis Stevenson not had an excellent memory.

This classic has probably been read or the movies seen by more folks than just about any other classic going! Just imagine, this historic gem was almost lost to us all!

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde


Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 horror classic is the sort of book other novelists go nuts over. It’s spawned movies, unofficial sequels, and academic essays. Yet the version we read is only a remake. In 1885, Stevenson finished his original tale, only for his wife Fanny to turn it into a bonfire.

At the time, Stevenson was crippled by tuberculosis, whacked out on cocaine, and probably half-mad. So when he showed Fanny this insane story and declared it his masterpiece, she assumed he’d truly gone nuts. She thought the book would ruin his reputation and destroy them financially, so she torched it to convince Stevenson to write something better instead. 

Had the author been even fractionally less committed to his idea, that probably would have been the end of one (or two?) of literature’s greatest characters. But Stevenson was nothing if not dedicated. Over the next three days, he rewrote the 30,000-word manuscript from memory, presumably while also making sure his wife kept well away from matches. 

We can all be thankful that Mr. Stevenson, sick or not, was of sound enough mind to re-write this wonderful story. Long will it be remembered.

Coffee out on the patio this morning...and boy, do I need it!


Chickenmom said...

That story had been one of my favorites while growing up. I need plenty of coffee this morning, too!

Sixbears said...

While he was rewriting the novel, we all lost whatever next book he would have written.

linda m said...

I love that story and never get tired of watching the movie either. Seems like we all need a couple cups of coffee this morning; I know I sure do. Must be something in the weather. Bad storms headed my way for today.

Mamahen said...

Interesting ...I am probably one of a very few of our generation that has neither read the novel or seen the movie...moving slow also this a.m....guess getting a year older will do that to ya :))

JO said...

Facts about this book I'm sure not to many know. Luck for her he didn't throw her in the fire after the book. Can you imagine what a great mind he had to re write that book by memory even while on drugs and being so sick.

I'll take a refill please the sun is trying to break through the clouds but I don't know.

Dizzy-Dick said...

Yes, that is quite a classic and many books and different movies have been released on that subject.

HermitJim said...

Hey Phyllis...
Took a lot out of him to rewrite, I'll bet!

Thanks for dropping by today!

Hey Sixbears...
That's probably very true. I wonder what it might have been!

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Linda M...
It is a very good study of the mindset of the time, I think.

Thanks for coming over today!

Hey Mamahen...
I'm surprised that you haven't read it, but I reckon many folks haven't.

Moving a bit slow as well and you are right about the age thing!

Thanks for coming over!

Hey Jo...
I love to find these hidden bits of history. Makes all the research worth while.

Thanks, sweetie, for the visit today!

Hey Dizzy...
I guess that a lot of the older classics have had many copycats over the years.

Thanks for dropping by today!