Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson My rating: 4 of 5 stars I conclude this October's rereading of fin de siècle horror fiction—see also my entries on Dracula and The Turn of the Screw—with Robert Louis Stevenson's iconic 1886 novella, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The … Continue reading Robert Louis Stevenson, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

The Turn of the Screw by Henry James My rating: 4 of 5 stars How did this 1898 novella become modern and postmodern literary theory's most inscrutable touchstone? According to Henry James's Notebooks—and scholars have disputed this, but then they dispute everything, as we'll see—he got the kernel of the novella, a ghost story, from … Continue reading Henry James, The Turn of the Screw

Bram Stoker, Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker My rating: 4 of 5 stars Though "undiscovered" and "forgotten" works are thrust at us from every corner, I find that the most startling books are often the most famous, the most classic. Supposedly so well known they no longer merit study—we might as well throw them in the trash—they are … Continue reading Bram Stoker, Dracula

Rudyard Kipling, Kim

Kim by Rudyard Kipling My rating: 5 of 5 stars Many readers of my generation were introduced to Rudyard Kipling's Kim (1901) by a later novel, Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (1992). Ondaatje's warmly lyrical and fragmentary narrative concerns three figures—a Canadian nurse, a Canadian thief, and a Sikh sapper—gathered in a ruined Italian monastery at … Continue reading Rudyard Kipling, Kim

Henry James, Hawthorne

Hawthorne by Henry James My rating: 5 of 5 stars This short 1879 book is Henry James's critical biography of the man who would at the time have been considered his most distinguished precursor in American fiction, Nathaniel Hawthorne. James was early in his career and was moreover writing Hawthorne as the only entry on … Continue reading Henry James, Hawthorne

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle My rating: 3 of 5 stars Today, in honor of Halloween, the Paris Review is running an 1872 epistolary exchange between Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman. Sympathy between the authors of Leaves of Grass and Dracula is not as incongruous as it seems, given certain obvious sociopolitical realities—it makes … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles

Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

The Sign of Four by Arthur Conan Doyle My rating: 3 of 5 stars A few years ago, while studying the fin de siècle, I figured I should read some Sherlock Holmes, beyond whatever redacted-for-children versions I’d read when my age was in the single digits (remember Illustrated Classic Editions? I absolutely loved them—they used … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle, The Sign of Four

Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens My rating: 4 of 5 stars [Spoilers below.] I wanted to revisit Dickens after reading Jeanette Winterson’s Art Objects. Like other British critics who want to keep alive the modernist tradition—see also Gabriel Josipovici and James Wood—Winterson is vexed by Dickens, wanting to dispatch him as Victorian relic and also … Continue reading Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

Charlotte Brontë, Villette

Villette by Charlotte Brontë My rating: 5 of 5 stars Villette is the thickly-written, slowly-paced, and emotionally distant first-person narrative of Lucy Snowe, a young Englishwoman who goes to work as a teacher in a boarding school in the fictional titular city, a capital of Catholic Europe that stands in for the Brussels of Charlotte … Continue reading Charlotte Brontë, Villette