When Stevenson tackled Scottish subjects for the first time in his fiction it was, as Stephen Arata has observed, ‘by way of the Gothic’ (2010: 59). ‘Thrawn Janet’, ‘The Body Snatcher’ and ‘The Merry Men’ were all written on the author’s return to Scotland from North America, during a sojourn in Pitlochry and Braemar in the wet summer of 1881. This chapter will propose that from these Scottish roots Stevenson went on to develop the Gothic genre to explore his sense of the nature of human identity and, beyond that, the conditions of material existence itself. It will trace such mutations at work in three specifically ‘Gothic’ texts, ‘Thrawn Janet’ (1881), Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) and ‘Olalla’ (1885), in order to demonstrate Stevenson’s evolving engagement with the genre, and its importance to any critical understanding of his work.
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