Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Lost Story Of Jekyll And Hyde...!

Most writers know that some of their first drafts need to be edited, some more than others.

Here is an article about Jekyll and Hyde that can help to prove my point. It's also a cautionary tale for anyone considering having a piece edited while under the influence.

Jekyll & Hyde
 First Draft

 The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde is one of the most famous horror stories ever written. The story examines the nature of the inner battle waged by humans between good and evil as well as their conscious and subconscious desires.

In fact, the book has made such an indelible mark on Western literature and culture that “Jekyll and Hyde” is now a commonly used phrase. But if Fanny Stevenson had not been such a harsh critic, you might never have heard of her husband, Robert Louis Stevenson.

Letters discovered in 2000 between Fanny and family friend W.E. Henley revealed that Fanny believed the book was simply bad, describing it as “utter nonsense.” She felt that the draft was a messy story about a scientist who turned into a monster, but it had no real purpose or message behind it. She suggested that the transformation should be used to symbolize the conflict of human nature, the theme for which the book is now most famous.

The original idea for the story came to Stevenson while he was in the midst of a cocaine-induced nightmare. Indignant that Fanny woke him up from his distressed sleep, Robert set to work writing the 30,000-word draft over the course of just three days.

This is the draft to which Fanny referred in her letter. She signed off by stating, “He said it was his greatest work. I shall burn it after I show it to you.”

And burn it she did, much to the chagrin of her husband. He immediately set to work on it again, this time with the helpful criticism of his wife in mind. The reworked version was completed and became a roaring success, saving the family from their financial woes.

But while you can pick up a copy of the revised book in almost any bookstore, the original, terrible draft is gone forever.

Even though the first draft was considered bad, I would have liked to have read it, ya know?

Coffee out on the patio this morning.


linda m said...

The original draft would have been great to read and then compared to the published version. I thoroughly enjoyed reading Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

HermitJim said...

Hey Linda...
It was one of the original horror stories that more or less started the trend.
Thanks for stopping by today!

JO said...

It would have been great to read that draft written by someone in the throws of a drugged induces mind. To bad she burned it.

I'm ready for some coffee please

HermitJim said...

Hey Jo...
Can't help but wonder just how weird it must have been.
Thanks for dropping in, dear!