Welcome to Part Three of my serialization of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, the latest in our series of audio adventures, Tales for Our Time. Robert Louis Stevenson's enduring classic was first published in 1886, and in the 130 years since has never been out of print. It's been staged, broadcast and filmed multiple times, and with many interesting variations - including, as I mentioned in my introduction, Sean Young in the gender-bending Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde.
We're squaresville types at Steyn HQ, however. So we're sticking with the original. In tonight's episode a London housemaid late at night witnesses a disturbing encounter:
She became aware of an aged and beautiful gentleman with white hair, drawing near along the lane; and advancing to meet him, another and very small gentleman, to whom at first she paid less attention. When they had come within speech (which was just under the maid's eyes) the older man bowed and accosted the other with a very pretty manner of politeness. It did not seem as if the subject of his address were of great importance; indeed, from his pointing, it sometimes appeared as if he were only inquiring his way; but the moon shone on his face as he spoke, and the girl was pleased to watch it, it seemed to breathe such an innocent and old-world kindness of disposition, yet with something high too, as of a well-founded self-content.
Presently her eye wandered to the other, and she was surprised to recognise in him a certain Mr. Hyde, who had once visited her master and for whom she had conceived a dislike. He had in his hand a heavy cane, with which he was trifling; but he answered never a word, and seemed to listen with an ill-contained impatience. And then all of a sudden he broke out in a great flame of anger, stamping with his foot, brandishing the cane, and carrying on (as the maid described it) like a madman. The old gentleman took a step back, with the air of one very much surprised and a trifle hurt; and at that Mr. Hyde broke out of all bounds and clubbed him to the earth.
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear Part Three of our adventure simply by clicking here and logging-in. Parts One and Two can be found here - and if you've only joined in recent days and missed our earlier serials (Conan Doyle's The Tragedy of the Korosko, H G Wells' The Time Machine, Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, Anthony Hope's The Prisoner of Zenda, plus Kipling, Dickens, Gogol, Jack London, John Buchan and Scott Fitzgerald), you can find them all here. Michael Ainslie, a first-day Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes:
Mark, You occasionally refer to to the background music. As a minor classical fan could you do that for all your selected readings. Maybe just a note during your introduction. Dr Jekyll is a great read.
Well, I always like to be a bit of a tease with the music, Michael, and string it out for three or four episodes. But in this case one of our Aussie members, Kate Smyth, has beaten me to the punch:
Fantastic choice of story, Mark, with another great introduction and gripping music to set the scene. (Just listened to Franck's "Les Djinns" — a masterpiece.) Fascinating to hear the details about Stevenson's friend, Eugene Chantrelle, and other background biography. You have a real talent for characterisation.... the voice of Enfield is exactly as it should be!
Thanks for that, Kate. And you're right: The music is Les Djinns, César Franck's symphonic poem, first performed the year before Stevenson wrote his book and, to my ears, the perfect musical accompaniment.
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