Hyde

Daniel Levine, Author
Daniel Levine. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $24 (448p) ISBN 978-0-544-19118-1
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Open Ebook - 368 pages - 978-0-544-19051-1
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Narrated by Edward Hyde, Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic embodiment of the dark side of the human consciousness, this ambitious first novel provides an alternate perspective on Dr. Jekyll’s chemical experiments on the split personality. Hyde first emerges independent of Jekyll on the streets of London in 1884—not as the malevolent brute that Stevenson conjured, but as a member of the lower classes who is fiercely protective of his and Hyde’s friends and interests. But over the course of two years, Hyde develops a reputation for evil that confounds him—and that he suspects is being engineered by Jekyll, whose consciousness lurks inside his own, steering him into certain assignations and possibly committing atrocities while in his form. Levine slowly unfolds the backstory of Jekyll’s schemes for Hyde, relating to his earlier failed “treatment” of a patient with a multiple-personality disorder, and traumatic events from Jekyll’s own childhood that come to light in the novel’s tragic denouement. Levine’s evocation of Victorian England is marvelously authentic, and his skill at grounding his narrative in arresting descriptive images is masterful (of the haggard, emotionally troubled Jekyll, he writes, “He looked as if he’d survived an Arctic winter locked within a ship frozen fast in the wastes”). If this exceptional variation on a classic has any drawback, it’s that it particularizes to a single character a malaise that Stevenson originally presented belonging universally to the human condition. (Mar.)
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