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This blog makes liberal use of AB's journals, letters, travel notes, and other sources.

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Saturday, 19 January 2013

From my balcony

Tuesday, January 9th., Menton.

Breakfast on the balcony again yesterday, while the fishing boats went out one by one straight into the dazzle of the sun, with an extraordinary sentimental effect. A highly dandiacal yacht, with fittings all brass and mahogany apparently, had been at anchor since we came; she was moored by two ropes to the jetty, and by two anchors from the stern. I noticed a detail of actualness which might be brought into a scene with great effect. The yacht swung from side to side on the jetty ropes, lifting first the starboard and then the port rope clear of the water, and as each rope came clear of the still water, the drops from it fell into the water in hundreds for a few seconds making a wonderful pretty pattering sound. On first catching this sound I did not perceive how it was caused.

Sailing boats at Menton
I finished reading "Jekyll and Hyde" before breakfast today. It is not bad. I thought less than ever of the writing, which is never more than dignified. As regards the scientific part, after Wells it comes feeble. No future novelist will be able to 'fudge' science now that Wells had shown how it can be done without fudging. Perhaps I am somewhat lacking in objectivity about this because Wells is of course a good friend of mine. All the potion business in Jekyll's final document is childish and unconvincing, and mars what is otherwise the strongest part of the book. The psychology of the last chapter is indeed really good and subtle.

A contemporary poster
Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is the original title of a novella written by the famous Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson that was first published in 1886. It is about a London lawyer named Gabriel John Utterson who investigates strange occurrences between his old friend, Dr Henry Jekyll, and the evil Edward Hyde. The work is commonly associated with the rare mental condition often spuriously called "split personality", referred to in psychiatry as dissociative identity disorder, where within the same body there exists more than one distinct personality. In this case, there are two personalities within Dr Jekyll, one apparently good and the other evil; completely opposite levels of morality. The novella's impact is such that it has become a part of the language, with the very phrase "Jekyll and Hyde" coming to mean a person who is vastly different in moral character from one situation to the next.

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