"LIKE THE SUDDEN, MORTAL JAB OF AN ICE PICK" (STEPHEN KING): FIRST EDITION OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, AN EXCEPTIONAL COPY
STEVENSON, Robert Louis. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1886. Octavo, original green cloth, top edge gilt.
First edition, preceding the English edition by four days, of Stevenson's chilling "tale of mystery and horror," one of only 1250 copies in original cloth, a Haycraft-Queen Cornerstone work.
Stevenson, until 1886, "never earned much by his pen. But in that year came two successes which greatly increased his reputation, and with it his power to earn. These were Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and Kidnapped. The former, founded partly on a dream, is a striking apologue of the double life of man. Published as a 'shilling shocker,' a form at that time in fashion, it became instantly popular; was quoted from a thousand pulpits; was translated into German, French and Danish; and the names of its two chief characters have passed into the common stock of proverbial allusion" (DNB). "It is a Faustian moral fable which takes the form of a tale of mystery and horror… and is the prototype of all stories of multiple personality, transformation and possession… The psychological power of the writing is patent" (Clute & Nicholls, 1165). "In terms of the history of literature, Jekyll and Hyde represents the breakdown of the stable ego in late Victorian fiction and a fascination with irrationality that prefigures the works of Conrad, Joyce and Woolf" (Tymn 3-230).
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may be read for its style alone. Many critics have objected to its brevity… but Henry James called the book 'a masterpiece of concision… If Dracula leaves one with the sensation of having been struck down by a massive, 400-page wall of horror, then Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is like the sudden, mortal jab of an ice pick" (Stephen King). The first English edition was supposed to be released in December 1885. However, the bookstalls were full of Christmas books at that time and the publisher did not want to compete with them. Therefore, publication in England was delayed until January and the American edition was released first. The first edition was comprised of 3000 copies in wrappers and 1250 copies in cloth (this copy). "Authorized edition" stated on title page; with four pages of publisher's advertisements at rear. Beinecke I:346. Princeton 30. Fantasy, The 100 Best Books 15. See Prideaux 17.
Text fine, scant edge-wear to spine ends of bright gilt cloth. A handsome about-fine copy of one of Stevenson's most famous works.