Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 56 (Robert Louis Stevenson)

Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Purchased for a graduate course on films and the novel. I have discussed this terrible class before.

Drawing a bit of a blank this morning. I can picture the classroom in which the above mentioned course took place. It was a sort of lecture hall on the first floor of Clemens hall. We sat at long tables facing a dais and a large projection screen at the front of the room. Actually I don't think it was a dias as much as it was a proscenium.

Anyhow, I sat in the back row next to Taylor Brady, at least for the first few weeks. He dropped the class. I stayed. I suffered. Everything else is a bit of a blank. I can remember a lot the films we watched: "The Gunfighter," "Frankenstein," "Little Caesar," "Double Indemnity," possibly "Alien." If there were others, I can't remember what they were.

The professor was a tall, thin, nebbishy fellow with blond hair and a bald pate. He loved the sound of his voice almost as much as I hated it. He had a faint New York accent and a certain air about him, fairly common among professors at the University of Buffalo, that suggested he felt he was too good to be there and that living and teaching in Buffalo was a kind of exile. He'd probably taken the job there as a sort of placeholder, I'd guess, until he could get a job in a "real" city. Years passed, tenure came, his resentment grew alongside his inertia.

A common tale, I am sure.

from Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

Mr. Utterson the lawyer was a man of a rugged countenance that was never lighted by a smile; cold, scanty and embarrassed in discourse; backward in sentiment; lean, long, dusty, dreary and yet somehow lovable.  At friendly meetings, and when the wine was to his taste, something eminently human beaconed from his eye; something indeed which never found its way into his talk, but which spoke not only in these silent symbols of the after-dinner face, but more often and loudly in the acts of his life.  He was austere with himself; drank gin when he was alone, to mortify a taste for vintages; and though he enjoyed the theater, had not crossed the doors of one for twenty years.  But he had an approved tolerance for others; sometimes wondering, almost with envy, at the high pressure of spirits involved in their misdeeds; and in any extremity inclined to help rather than to reprove.  "I incline to Cain's heresy," he used to say quaintly:  "I let my brother go to the devil in his own way."  In this character, it was frequently his fortune to be the last reputable acquaintance and the last good influence in the lives of downgoing men.  And to such as these, so long as they came about his chambers, he never marked a shade of change in his demeanour.

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