As we recover from the excitement of Edinburgh’s festival month, Kristian and I are delighted to bring you the latest episode of our podcast The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Scottish Literature. This time round we are celebrating Robert Louis Stevenson, in a roundabout way, by taking a look at Emma Tennant’s feminist reworking of the iconic The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde with her equally fantastic and frightening novel Two Women of London.
And reading Emma Tennant seems timely; her update feels entirely modern despite being written and set in the Thatcherite ’80s. It takes in the consequences of gentrification, the growing gulf between rich and poor, the demands made of women in a violent, consumerist society, all told through a collection of art pieces, letters, journal entries and interviews that builds, layer by layer, a compelling mystery shot through with anxiety, paranoia, jealousy and jet black humour. Sadly, Emma Tennant died earlier this year, so if you haven’t introduced yourself to her work before, it’s time to get started!
We’ll be sticking with the Stevenson reimaginings with an interview with our very own Kevin MacNeil, who himself took on that very same Stevenson story with his second novel A Method Actor’s Guide to Jekyll and Hyde. He has also just edited an anthology of Robert Louis Stevenson work as curated by Jorge Luis Borges & Adolfo Bioy Casares back in the last century, which, until now, has never been published. We were delighted to rectify that, and launched it at the book festival this year. We chat about the timelessness of Stevenson’s work and how literary influence doesn’t necessarily follow linear time.
So, kick back, have a listen, then go back to the books!
Vikki Reilly, September 2017