Daniel Levin: Hyde

(Courtesy of Goodreads.com)

ImageDaniel   Levine

Are just a few of us truly wicked, or does darkness lurk in all of us? Few classics tackle this question with more pulse-pounding gusto than Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in which a respected physician takes a potion that reveals his violent hidden self. The Jekyll/Hyde dichotomy has become shorthand for good juxtaposed with evil, but debut author Daniel Levine felt that there was much more to the story. His historical novel, Hyde, retells the suspenseful tale from the villain’s point of view, imagining how the rougher half of the doctor may have been misunderstood or even manipulated. In Levine’s gritty and chaotic Victorian London, good and evil are not so easily defined, and this moral ambiguity brings some psychological realism to Stevenson’s Gothic thriller. A creative writing teacher hailing from Colorado, Levine shares some of the visual inspiration for his mysterious, and perhaps heroic, Mr. Hyde. 

 

Goodreads: What hooked you and inspired you to write your own novel about the tortured duo Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde? 

Daniel Levine: I first read The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in tenth-grade English. Our teacher divided the class into small groups and assigned portions of the novella for us to present to the other students. My two friends and I filmed a dramatic reenactment of our scenes, which included the killing of Carew and Hyde’s subsequent “cover-up.” I played Hyde, scowling and sneering at the camera, and bucking about in the agonizing throes of transformation. Even then I recognized that Hyde was something more than the apotheosis of pure evil, as Jekyll insists. There is a wretched humanity to him, an underdog quality that captured my interest and sympathy. Similarly there is a suspicious aspect to Jekyll’s self-affirmed goodness and innocence. His actions are hardly those of a victim—he flirts with danger and exposure as if he wishes on some level to be caught. The idea for Hyde came to me 15 years later, in my sleep: I woke one morning, staring at my hand, and remembered suddenly the scene when Hyde awakes unexpectedly in Jekyll’s bed, gazing at his own transformed hand. When I went back and reread Stevenson’s novella (the same edition I’d used in high school), my original impressions were strongly confirmed. Hyde was not a mindless monster. He was a vehicle for Jekyll’s deeply suppressed libidinal urges, an avatar through which Jekyll could behave as constrictive Victorian society—and his own exacting scruples—would never allow him to behave. The story isn’t a parable of good and evil. It’s a psychological case study of a man at war with his own animal instincts and a commentary on the masks all humans must wear in order to function in civilization and appear “normal.” I am very aware of this split within myself, the battle between primal impulse and proper etiquette. I wanted to explore this schism and give the misunderstood and maligned Hyde the chance to tell his side of the story at last. 

To carry on reading the story click here.

Interview with Donna Tartt

Interview with Donna Tartt (excerpt)

October, 2013

Donna Tartt

Donna Tartt, author of the new novel The Goldfinch.. Here’s part of the interview that she did for Goodreads:
 
Goodreads: How did you become interested in the art underworld, and why did you decide to take it on as a subject?

Donna Tartt: This is a difficult question because the germ of this book began so long ago—20 years ago, with a long stay in Amsterdam. Rather than any specific story about art crime, I was more interested in a dark Amsterdam mood, a dark New York mood—and art seemed to be the tie between those two cities. As far as I remember, it wasn’t really a conscious decision to take the art world as a subject but something that just seemed to spring organically from place. The destruction of [Afghanistan’s] great Buddhas at Bamiyan [destroyed in 2001 by the Taliban] was also something that bothered me greatly, and though I can’t say how that affected my decision to write about crime in the context of art, I know that it did. 

GR: How did you go about researching it?

DT: I did most of my research for this book in the Allen Room of the New York Public Library—although when people ask me about “research,” it always strikes me as really funny, because really I’m only reading about things I enjoy and would probably be reading about anyway even if I wasn’t writing a book (such as Dutch art and antique furniture). Even the side things I had to learn about along the way turned out to be interesting. Though I hate team sports and have never in my life willingly watched a football game from start to finish, I taught myself about sports betting from a library book—well enough that I did all right in the football pools at my local bar last fall, and this without ever watching a game. Basically I can learn almost anything from a library book. 

GR: Goodreads member Sean Frisco asks, “As you researched NYC’s art underworld for The Goldfinch, what surprised you about that cutthroat black market?” 

DT: I suppose the most disheartening statistic I learned was that so few stolen paintings are ever recovered. It’s a miracle when they resurface—and when they do, they’re often damaged from being poorly kept. 

To read more of this interview click on the link below:

 
I hope you all enjoyed reading part of the interview! (I don’t take any credit for the interview.)