Robert Louis Stevenson’s thrilling tale of the mild-mannered Dr. Jekyll and his evil double, Mr. Hyde, is one of the most famous horror stories in English literature. It is also a profound and fascinating fable of the divided self that continues to seize readers’ imaginations. This story of a misguided genius who brings his doppelgänger to life brilliantly dramatizes inner conflict and the capacity for violence and evil in every soul. An instant sensation on its first publication in 1886, Stevenson’s spine-chilling novella has given rise to countless adaptations on stage and screen over the past century, but none can match the power and dark complexity of the original.
This University of Nebraska Press edition is a small, exquisitely produced paperback. The book design, based on the original first edition of 1886, includes wide margins, decorative capitals on the title page and first page of each chapter, and a clean, readable font that is 19th-century in style. Joyce Carol Oates contributes a foreword in which she calls Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a "mythopoetic figure" like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Alice in Wonderland, and compares Stevenson's creation to doubled selves in the works of Plato, Poe, Wilde, and Dickens.
This edition also features 12 full-page wood engravings by renowned illustrator Barry Moser. Moser is a skillful reader and interpreter as well as artist, and his afterword to the book, in which he explains the process by which he chose a self-portrait motif for the suite of engravings, is fascinating. For the image of Edward Hyde, he writes, "I went so far as to have my dentist fit me out with a carefully sculpted prosthetic of evil-looking teeth. But in the final moments I had to abandon the idea as being inappropriate. It was more important to stay in keeping with the text and, like Stevenson, not show Hyde's face." (Also recommended: the edition of Frankenstein illustrated by Barry Moser) --Fiona Webster