Welcome to the eighth episode of our current Tale for Our Time - Robert Louis Stevenson's classic allegory of good and evil in one human form, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. In tonight's episode, Henry Jekyll explains how he came to the notion of creating a separate identity for his dark side and thus severing "those provinces of good and ill which divide and compound man's dual nature":
I was in no sense a hypocrite; both sides of me were in dead earnest; I was no more myself when I laid aside restraint and plunged in shame, than when I laboured, in the eye of day, at the furtherance of knowledge or the relief of sorrow and suffering... With every day, and from both sides of my intelligence, the moral and the intellectual, I thus drew steadily nearer to that truth, by whose partial discovery I have been doomed to such a dreadful shipwreck: that man is not truly one, but truly two...
It was on the moral side, and in my own person, that I learned to recognise the thorough and primitive duality of man; I saw that, of the two natures that contended in the field of my consciousness, even if I could rightly be said to be either, it was only because I was radically both; and from an early date, even before the course of my scientific discoveries had begun to suggest the most naked possibility of such a miracle, I had learned to dwell with pleasure, as a beloved day-dream, on the thought of the separation of these elements. If each, I told myself, could but be housed in separate identities, life would be relieved of all that was unbearable; the unjust delivered from the aspirations might go his way, and remorse of his more upright twin; and the just could walk steadfastly and securely on his upward path, doing the good things in which he found his pleasure, and no longer exposed to disgrace and penitence by the hands of this extraneous evil. It was the curse of mankind that these incongruous fagots were thus bound together that in the agonised womb of consciousness, these polar twins should be continuously struggling. How, then, were they dissociated?
And so he determined to separate the "polar twins" as today surgeons separate Siamese twins - and Edward Hyde was loosed upon the world. Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read Part Eight of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde simply by clicking here and logging-in. Earlier episodes can be found here.
Thank you for all your generous comments on this series. George Pereira, a first-day Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club, writes:
Orson Welles, sponsored by Casa Blanca, did a 29-minute version of The Diamond as Big as the Ritz, It started off in Kissie's Hamburger Hut. Let us not speak of it any longer.
Escape did a version of The Time Machine take had two gentlemen voyage off into time. That didn't bother me that much since radio needed a dialogue. What did bother me was when the two gentlemen along with Weena set off from the Morlock chamber, Weena was ripped from their arms and when they arrived back in the past present they both shrugged it off as an oh well. The bloodlessness of it surprised me...
Mark, do you listen to any of these past productions when you choose a tale? I've listened to the old radio shows, The Prisoner of Zenda, The Thirty-Nine Steps (even the movie) and more and was never moved to read the original stories. Now, after listening to you, I hunt them out and I need paper not just a Kindle version.
I don't doubt you, as the one-man global content provider, know you've got a success with Tales for Our Time. It's just terrific what you are doing.
That's very kind of you, George. To answer your question, I don't listen to old radio versions or watch the movies when I pick a story - because I don't want anything to get between me and the book, as it would if a terrific performance by Tyrone Power or Lindsay Lohan were in the forefront of my mind. That's why, with this tale, I wanted to restore Robert Louis Stevenson's pronunciation of the protagonist's name.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales for Our Time, you can do so by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For more details, see here - and don't forget our new Gift Membership. Please join me tomorrow evening for the concluding episode of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.