Tuesday Jan. 5, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde

On this Day:

The “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde” by Robert Louis Stevenson was first published in America on Jan 5, 1886; five days before it was published in England by Longmans, Green & Co.

The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is a Gothic novella by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson and is also known as The Strange Case of Jekyll Hyde, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, or simply Jekyll and Hyde. It is about a London legal practitioner named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. The novella’s impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the vernacular phrase “Jekyll and Hyde” referring to persons with an unpredictably dual nature: outwardly good, but sometimes shockingly evil.

Lloyd Osbourne, Stevenson’s stepson, wrote: “I don’t believe that there was ever such a literary feat before as the writing of Dr Jekyll. I remember the first reading as though it were yesterday. Louis came downstairs in a fever; read nearly half the book aloud; and then, while we were still gasping, he was away again, and busy writing. I doubt if the first draft took so long as three days.”

Inspiration may also have come from the writer’s friendship with Edinburgh-based French teacher Eugene Chantrelle, who was convicted and executed for the murder of his wife in May 1878. Chantrelle, who had appeared to lead a normal life in the city, poisoned his wife with opium. According to author Jeremy Hodges, Stevenson was present throughout the trial and as “the evidence unfolded he found himself, like Dr Jekyll, ‘aghast before the acts of Edward Hyde’.” Moreover, it was believed that the teacher had committed other murders both in France and Britain by poisoning his victims at supper parties with a “favourite dish of toasted cheese and opium”.

As was customary, Mrs. Stevenson would read the draft and offer her criticisms in the margins. Robert Stevenson was confined to bed at the time from a haemorrhage. In her comments in the manuscript, she observed that in effect the story was really an allegory, but Robert was writing it as a story. After a while, Robert called her back into the bedroom and pointed to a pile of ashes: he had burnt the manuscript in fear that he would try to salvage it, and thus forced himself to start again from nothing, writing an allegorical story as she had suggested. Scholars debate whether he really burnt his manuscript; there is no direct factual evidence for the burning, but it remains an integral part of the history of the novella.

Stevenson rewrote the story in three to six days. A number of later biographers have alleged that Stevenson was on drugs during the frantic rewrite; for example, William Gray’s revisionist history A Literary Life (2004) said he used cocaine while other biographers said he used ergot. However, the standard history, according to the accounts of his wife and son (and himself), says he was bed-ridden and sick while writing it. According to Osbourne, “The mere physical feat was tremendous and, instead of harming him, it roused and cheered him inexpressibly”. He continued to refine the work for four to six weeks after the initial revision. The novella was written in the southern English seaside town of Bournemouth, where Stevenson had moved to benefit from its sea air and warmer climate.

The name Jekyll was borrowed from the Reverend Walter Jekyll, a friend of Stevenson and younger brother of horticulturalist and landscape designer Gertrude Jekyll (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

Which game does Dr Jekyll like best?  Hyde and seek…

Second, a Song:

What do you get when you mash up a song by Trace Adkins and a Star Wars movie starring Hans Solo and Princess Leia?  Hans admitting “I never knew I had another side;  But girl with you I’m Jekyll and Hyde…”

Han Solo is a fictional character in the Star Wars franchise created by George Lucas. The character first appeared in the 1977 film Star Wars portrayed by Harrison Ford, who reprised his role in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983). Ford returned to the role for The Force Awakens (2015), as well as a brief cameo in The Rise of Skywalker (2019). In the spin-off film Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018), a younger version of the character was portrayed by Alden Ehrenreich.

The character is the captain of the Millennium Falcon who, along with Wookiee co-pilot Chewbacca, becomes affiliated with the Rebel Alliance in their war against the Galactic Empire when he transports Jedi Ben Kenobi and his pupil Luke Skywalker to Alderaan. In addition he becomes romantic with Leia Organa, with whom he fathers Ben Solo, who later becomes the villain Kylo Ren.

The American Film Institute has named Solo as the 14th best film hero. Mythologist Joseph Campbell has described the character, “He thinks he’s an egoist; but he really isn’t. … there’s something else pushing [him].” In 1997, Lucas described Han as “a cynical loner who realizes the importance of being part of a group and helping for the common good”.

Ever since his debut, Han Solo has remained one of the most famous characters from the Star Wars universe. In addition to the character being hailed as one of cinema’s greatest heroes, Harrison Ford’s performances in the franchise have received significant acclaim from critics and fans (per Wikipedia).

Dangerous Man is the eighth studio album by American country music singer Trace Adkins, released on August 15, 2006 on Capitol Records Nashville. The album produced three singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts between 2006 and mid-2007. The first of these, “Swing”, reached number 20 while the second single, “Ladies Love Country Boys”, became his second number one hit and his first since “(This Ain’t) No Thinkin’ Thing” in 1997. The third single, “I Wanna Feel Something”, reached number 25 on the same chart. Overall, Dangerous Man is certified Gold by the RIAA (per Wikipedia).

Here are clips from Star Wars put to Trace Adkins song “Dangerous Man” from the album of the same name.  I hope you enjoy this.


Thought for the Day:

“Keep your fears to yourself, but share your courage with others.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

Have a great day!

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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