When Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was first published in 1886 it became an instant sensation, eventually selling over a quarter of a million copies in less than two decades and inspiring countless adaptations (stage versions began happening almost immediately after its publication). More than that, the concept of a man split, and eventually destroyed, by the darker side of his personality has become a staple of fiction, to the point where “Mr. Hyde” is synonymous with anything that reduces us to our most basic, animalistic needs.
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Excepting perhaps only Fats Domino, the Clash’s Joe Strummer had the greatest name in the history of rock and roll. Of course, it wasn’t actually his name. Nobody has a moniker that perfectly suited to their profession, especially in the business called show. After all, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame isn’t filled with people named John Smith or Ruth Adams.
In a spare white lobby-like space just off Temple Bar, the walls are decorated with highly personable photographic portraits of distinctive faces. A facepainted woman with a wry smile, the tough-looking trio of girls leaning up against a brick wall, the farmer with his tractor, the bearded drunk with lidded eyes, the young drunks with wide-open eyes.
The Dublin Writers Festival held its talk titled “The State of Crime” in a mysteriously out-of-the-way location: a small event room at the Central Library located up a staircase in the middle of the Ilac shopping center. It wasn’t spacious enough for the crime fans and would-be crime writers in attendance, so chairs were added and the doors closed on those who had arrived too late.
What they missed turned out to be less about crime and mysteries themselves but what’s behind them, and why one would want to write them.
On the Sunday of its first weekend, the Dublin Writers Festival was cloud-shrouded in an atmospherically light rain. Sunshine and a warm breeze might make the heart beat faster, but little can put you more in the proper mood for book-minded conversation than a faint drizzle and grey skies.
This is Dublin, after all, which proudly carries its status as UNESCO City of Literature, and where the odd plaque on an undistinguished townhouse near St. Stephen’s Green reminds you that Bram Stoker lived there, and the Gate Theatre just happens to be staging An Ideal Husband by the Dublin-raised and -educated Oscar Wilde.