Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrations by Barry Moser, Centipede Press, 2011

Books and Vines previously reviewed an absolutely wonderful letterpress edition of Robert Louis Stevenson‘s Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde published by Hand & Eye Letterpress of London.  That review also contained pictures (for comparison purposes) of illustrations from the 1952 Limited Editions Club (LEC) edition by Edward A. Wilson, and the Easton Press 100 Greatest edition which is essentially a re-print of the 1952 LEC edition. Recently Centipede Press threw their hat in the ring when it comes to publishing Jekyll with a well stacked edition of Stevenson’s gothic classic including illustrations by the great illustrator Barry Moser, a striking cover design, beautiful endpapers, a new introduction by Patrick McGrath, some additional horror stories from Stevenson and a gallery of movie posters from big screen translations of this classic.

Here is the edition description from Centipede Press:

The classic novel of personality transference is an acknowledged masterpiece and one of the most influential novels ever written. Now with a new introduction by Patrick McGrath, a stunning suite of fifteen wood engravings by Barry Moser, a front cover by James Bama, gorgeous endpapers by Aeron Alfrey, a back cover by Basil Gogos, a fascinating typographical treatment that destabilizes the text, a handful of Stevenson’s best horror short stories, and a fantastic cover gallery of old film posters in full color. The book is presented in our oversize format, 8 × 12 inches, the same as the other books in our Gothic series.

The wood engravings by Barry Moser are exquisite. They were originally published in small size by the University of Nebraska Press. Mr Moser personally retouched all of the engravings for this edition, and he also created three new wood engravings just for this new edition. One of America’s most renowned artists, Mr Moser’s work has graced some of the finest and most collectible limited editions ever published, including books from the Arion Press and Moser’s own acclaimed Pennyroyal Press.

It is interesting to compare the different ways this story has been presented across the four versions that have been reviewed on Books and Vines. The different interpretations by the illustrators and the different treatment on the holistic design of the books gives a good set of choices for readers wanting a collectible edition of Jekyll. It also provides nice fodder for debates, preferably over multiple glasses of wine, on which characteristics of which edition is best! I like Moser’s work in the Centipede edition, especially the character studies.  Barrett’s illustrations in the Hand and Eye edition seem spot on when it comes to setting the mood. I look at the Hand and Eye edition as classic in design, beautifully hand done through and through. The Centipede edition does not have the hand created aura though is more of a production, with lots of extra’s, striking cover illustrations (possibly excessive?), and illustrations from  one of the world’s greatest illustrators. The LEC edition almost sits in between, with much to say for it, stacking up well next to these newer editions. What someone chooses really depends on what traits they consider important in their collection.

About the Edition

  • Limited to 200 copies, each signed by Patrick McGrath, Barry Moser, and Aeron Alfrey
  • 12 illustrations from Barry Moser reproduced from 1990 Pennyroyal Press, plus 3 wood engravings original to this edition
  • Full-color gallery of old movie posters based on the novel
  • Full cloth binding with printed front and rear panels
  • Front cover artwork by James Bama, from Bantam Books
  • Back cover artwork by Basil Gogos
  • Illustrated endpapers by Aeron Alfrey
  • Six bonus short stories by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Head and tail bands, ribbon marker, and handsome slipcase
  • Printed in China
  • There is also a deluxe edition available which is signed by all of the above and Basil Gogos as well. The deluxe edition will be bound in quarter-leather, printed on heavier stock, and comes enclosed in a traycase. Also in the traycase is a folder of prints of Mr Moser’s wood engravings, each one signed by Moser.

Pictures

(All pictures on Books and Vines are exclusively provided to highlight and visualize the work being reviewed.  A side benefit, hopefully, is encouraging healthy sales of fine press books for the publishers and fine retailers that specialize in these types of books (of which Books and Vines has no stake or financial interest). Please note that works photographed are copyrighted by the publisher, author and/or illustrator as indicated in the articles. Permission to use contents from these works for anything outside of fair use purposes must come directly from the copyright owner and no permission is granted or implied to use photo’s found on Books and Vines for any purpose that would infringe on the rights of the copyright owner.)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Book in Slipcase
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Spine and Covers
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Spine Macro Detail
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Endpapers
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Pre title page Illustration
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Frontispiece and Title Page
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Illustration #1 and Text
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Text #1
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Macro of Sample Text #1
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Text #2
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Illustration #2 with Text
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Illustration #3
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Text #3
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Text #4
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Poster #1
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Centipede Press, Sample Poster #2

5 thoughts on “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrations by Barry Moser, Centipede Press, 2011

  1. The front and rear cover illustrations are photos of Frederic march as he appeared in full “Hyde” makeup for his Academy Award-winning performance in the 1931 film. Rather odd that they didn’t use a picture of him in his Dr. Jekyll makeup rather than a second shot of Hyde, which seems to be logical.

    I can’t say I’m crazy about this edition; although I like a lot of the ephemera such as the movie posters and the inclusion of stories such as “The Body Snatcher,” another first-rate film based on a Stevenson work, they seem out of place in a fine press book called Jekyll & Hyde. Maybe it should have been called “The Dark Side of RLS.” I won’t comment on Barry Moser’s illustrations as I have had my say about his work on other books–suffice it to say they do not make me want to replace my LEC with Wilson’s illustrations And could I afford it, I would definitely opt for the Hand and Eye letterpress edition. Still, this is an interesting book and I must say one of the true strokes of genius is the deranged type at the end of J&H as seen in Text Sample #3. Now this is imaginative typography that point to the ways in which computer set printing plates can establish themselves as something more than just being “almost as good as letterpress.”

    (I hate to sound monomaniacal, but why can’t publishers, when they go to the trouble of producing a fine press version of a classic, at least use the title the author gave it? Adding a definite article to the title story drives me crazy.)

    1. Thanks for the info Robert, had no idea that is what the cover illustrations were from. I also agree on your comment on the type — I thought that was pretty clever. And yes, that damn added definite article!

  2. Hello Chris –

    I love these posts of classic 19th century books; however, this one is ,as you say, overdone, The front and rear cover art is not needed. It looks like art from a paperback or dust cover, and I think the book would have been better without it. Cover illustrations on letterpress books generally detract from the inside illustrator, in this case, Barry Moser.

    The poster art is also superfluous. It looks like it was added aa a scond thought. The typography and Moser’s illustrations are excellent. If I had to guess, I would say a younger person who didn’t have a feel for Moser’s art or this classic book got involved with the design.

    I am still of the opinion that the LEC illustrated by Edward A. Wilson is the best Jekyll and Hyde. I will be rebinding this one soon and hope to do a better job with a new front cover than the Centipede book.

  3. These side-by-side comparisons of various editions are so valuable, please keep on doing those!

    Menno

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