Welcome to Part Two of The Mark Steyn Club's latest Tale for Our Time - an acknowledged classic by Robert Louis Stevenson, first published in 1886 and adapted multiple times in every medium in the years since: The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. As it happens, almost every adaptation has made the same very basic title change. So I thought I'd do something different and read it the way the author wrote it - if only in respect to Dr Jekyll's name. First Week Founding Member John Frey writes:
Thank you for providing the background for the correct pronounciation of 'Jekyll.' I have heard it so much with my American English ear as 'Jek' that I would not have guessed it should be 'Jeek.'
The way to remember, John, is to imagine yourself breaking into Dr Jekyll's laboratory, catching him mixing up the potions and demanding to know:
Where'd you get those beakers?
Tonight's episode picks up where yesterday's left off. Mr Utterson, the lawyer, is disturbed by the sole beneficiary of Dr Jekyll's will:
The will was holograph, for Mr. Utterson, though he took charge of it now that it was made, had refused to lend the least assistance in the making of it; it provided not only that, in case of the decease of Henry Jekyll, M.D., D.C.L., L.L.D., F.R.S., etc., all his possessions were to pass into the hands of his 'friend and benefactor Edward Hyde,' but that in case of Dr. Jekyll's 'disappearance or unexplained absence for any period exceeding three calendar months,' the said Edward Hyde should step into the said Henry Jekyll's shoes without further delay and free from any burthen or obligation, beyond the payment of a few small sums to the members of the doctor's household. This document had long been the lawyer's eyesore. It offended him both as a lawyer and as a lover of the sane and customary sides of life, to whom the fanciful was the immodest. And hitherto it was his ignorance of Mr. Hyde that had swelled his indignation; now, by a sudden turn, it was his knowledge. It was already bad enough when the name was but a name of which he could learn no more. It was worse when it began to be clothed upon with detestable attributes; and out of the shifting, insubstantial mists that had so long baffled his eye, there leaped up the sudden, definite presentment of a fiend.
'I thought it was madness,' he said, as he replaced the obnoxious paper in the safe, 'and now I begin to fear it is disgrace.'
Utterson's conclusion is one of the passages cited in support of the notion that Stevenson's story has a homosexual subtext. In the year he wrote Jekyll and Hyde, 1885, Parliament had passed the Criminal Law Amendment Act prohibiting "gross indecency" between two men and thus greatly increasing the risk to those respectable chaps by day who prowled the city at night in pursuit of rent boys. Because of the movie adaptations, we tend to assume that Hyde is larger than Jekyll. In fact, in the book, he is smaller and younger - and so Utterson's words suggest that he's worried that his friend has perhaps met a boyish Uranian poet who's blackmailed or otherwise ensnared the good doctor.
To listen to the second episode of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, please click here and log-in. If you missed part one, you'll find that here.
Tales for Our Time is an experimental feature we introduced as a bonus for Mark Steyn Club members, and, as you know, I said if it was a total stinkeroo, we'd eighty-six the thing and speak no more of it. But I'm thrilled to say it's proving very popular, and looks like it'll be around a while. If you're a Club member and you incline more to the stinkeroo side of things, give it your best in the Comments Section below.
We launched The Mark Steyn Club last spring, and I'm immensely heartened, as our first birthday approaches, by all those SteynOnline supporters across the globe - from Fargo to Fiji, Vancouver to Vanuatu, Surrey to the Solomon Islands - who've signed up to be a part of it. As I said at the time, membership isn't for everyone, but it is a way of ensuring that all our content remains available for everyone - all my columns, audio interviews, video content, the longer cultural essays, all our movie features and songs of the week: In fact, if you loved the pre-Club SteynOnline, there's now more free daily content than there's ever been. None of it's going behind a paywall, because I want it out there in the world, being read and being heard and being viewed, and maybe changing an occasional mind somewhere along the way.
So I thank those longtime readers, listeners and viewers who've volunteered to be part of that - and in return we provide a few bonuses. If you've enjoyed our monthly Steyn Club radio serials and you're looking for a present for a fellow fan of classic fiction, I hope you'll consider our limited-time-only Gift Membership. And, aside from Tales for Our Time, The Mark Steyn Club does come with other benefits:
~Exclusive Steyn Store member pricing on over 40 books, mugs, T-shirts, and other products;
~The opportunity to engage in live Clubland Q&A sessions with yours truly;
~Transcript and audio versions of The Mark Steyn Show, SteynPosts, and our other video content;
~Our newsletter The Clubbable Steyn;
~My new video series of classic poetry;
~Advance booking for my live appearances around the world;
~Customized email alerts for new content in your areas of interest;
~and a couple of Club specials coming up for our first anniversary.
To become a member of The Mark Steyn Club, please click here - or sign up a pal for that limited-time Gift Membership. And do join us for Part Three of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde tomorrow.
Comment on this item (members only)
Viewing and submission of reader comments is restricted to Mark Steyn Club members only. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. If you are already a member, please log in here: