This review of Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde appeared soon after the publication of the book in 1886. The anonymous author praises the novel, noting the style of the language, the structure of the narrative, calling it a ‘finished study in the art of fantastical literature’, and recommending the reader to read it twice, once for the narrative and a second time to see how the writer has ‘never for a moment […] lost his grasp of the grand ground-facts of a wonderful and supernatural problem.’
The reviewer proposes the story is either ‘a flash of intuitive psychological research’ or ‘the product of the most elaborate forethought’. Critics have suggested that, as well as being inspired by a series of dream-sequences, the story was influenced by the dualities around Stevenson (both fictional and real), ranging from classic Gothic motifs to the story of Deacon Brodie and his own student, bohemian life in Edinburgh.
The novel is compared to Poe‘s stories The Fall of the House of Usher, The Premature Burial, and A Descent into the Maelstrom – and Stevenson is judged to have ‘gone far deeper’; and to Frederick Fargus’s Called Back, a popular novel from 1883, which is judged ‘more commonplace’.
- Article by:
- John Mullan
- The Gothic, The novel 1780–1832
Professor John Mullan examines the origins of the Gothic, explaining how the genre became one of the most popular of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and the subsequent integration of Gothic elements into mainstream Victorian fiction.