Constant Reader
WebBoardOrientationReading ListsHome WorksActivities
Classics Corner

Buy the paperback

The Moonstone
by Wilkie Collins, John Sutherland (Editor)
Amazon.com:
Called "the first and greatest of English detective novels" by T.S.Eliot, The Moonstone is a masterpiece of suspense. A fabulous yellow diamond becomes the dangerous inheritance of Rachel Verinder. Outside her Yorkshire country house watch the Hindu priests who have waited for many years to reclaim their ancient talisman, looted from the holy city of Somnauth. When the Moonstone disappears the case looks simple, but in mid-Victorian England no one is what they seem, and nothing can be taken for granted.
 
Witnesses, suspects, and detectives each narrate the story in turn. The bemused butler, the love-stricken housemaid, the enigmatic detective Sergeant Cuff, the drug-addicted scientist--each speculate on the mystery as Collins weaves their narratives together. The Moonstone transcends the genre of detective novel or murder mystery, though."



Topic: The next discussion: Moonstone, January 2002 (24 of 24), Read 3 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, December 30, 2001 12:03 PM I found these tidbits in the intro to my edition of THE MOONSTONE. The author of the intro is Frederick R. Karl. I don't have a clue as to who he is, but he helped me clarify why Collins is considered to be a Victorian sensational novelist, as well as a writer of detective fiction. Collins suffered from gout. He used laudanum to ease the pain, much of which was in his eyes, "often drinking it in wine glasses." Ezra Jennings seems to parallel Collins' own experiences. Eventually, the friendship between Dickens and Collins cooled, but I'm not sure why. After MOONSTONE was published, Dickens wrote that it was "...wearisome beyond endurance," that "there is a vein of obstinate conceit in it that makes enemies of readers." (Oh, goody - an interesting discussion point.) However, conjecture has it that Dickens was heavily influenced by Collins when he wrote THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD, "a kind of crime-detective novel with Indian elements running throughout it." Conan Doyle also used Indian elements. It is important to note that the British were still dealing with the effects of the Indian Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 at the time the novel was written in 1868. The intro further points out the "dual" nature of Godfrey Ablewhite. "That dual, split, or doubling type of character would become quite fashionable in the latter third of the century: we need only recall Stevenson's JEKYLL AND HYDE or Wilde's DORIAN GRAY. Critics have noted that "Collins' later type of detective fiction would be indebted to Gothic elements of sensation, mystery, fantastical presences. One aspect of Gothic is that blending of the real and the fantastic." "Collins' type of detective novel depended far more on melodramatic effects than did the kind developed by Conan Doyle." T. S. Eliot said that English detective fiction, deriving from Collins, "has relied less on the beauty of the mathematical problem and much more on the intangible human element," which is melodramatic. Ezra Jennings is a "Gothic mutation, described as a kind of Frankenstein monster." Collins is indebted to Shelley's FRANKENSTEIN. The intro goes on to note, "The Gothic background from so many of Collins' melodramatic effects led to several stylistic attitudes: sensation (horror, pity, terror) would never be too distant from narrative; characters would often be dualistic - one half able to live in society, the other half subterranean, feral, or wounded (Ezra, Godfrey); much of the narrative would be cast in veils, disguises, deceptions; as curse or an omen, the past, matters of history, would press heavily on the present." I can see some of that in MOONSTONE, but not all. Can't wait for the discussion. :-) Isn't it interesting how these authors influenced each other? K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (1 of 26), Read 38 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Tuesday, January 01, 2002 11:48 AM Today is the official start of the Moonstone discussion. Please post all new notes here. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The plot held my interest, but I found the most pleasure in the eccentric characters. My favorite was the aptly named Betteredge (better edge), who was so often the voice of Wilkie Collins' sharp wit. To give only one example, here is Betteredge speaking of the unfortunate Rosanna Spearman: The upshot of it was, that Rosanna Spearman had been a thief, and not being of the sort that get up Companies in the City, and rob from thousands, instead of only robbing from one, the law laid hold of her, and the prison and the reformatory followed the lead of the law. These comments reminded me of the current Enron debacle and the slim chance that those responsible will ever be imprisoned for defrauding thousands of shareholders and retirees. Betteredge's attempts to classify Franklin's behavior according to the perceived French, German, Italian or English influence were also amusing. Apparently, at that time the Germans were considered a dreamy, unpractical people too wrapped up in abstract philosophy. It's interesting how national stereotypes change. The second narrator, Miss Clack, was entertaining, but a somewhat less successful character in my opinion because she was so one dimensional. She certainly demonstrated Collins hostility towards religious do-gooders. But then, could we expect anything different from a man who maintained households with two different women, neither of whom he married? I was also fascinated by the descriptions of Ezra Jennings and the use of opium, a drug which played a critical part in the narrative. Collins was himself addicted to an opium derivative, laudanum, which was so widely used in the nineteenth century that it was even given to babies. Since he was an addict, I figured Collins knew what he was talking about when he described the effects of the drug. What about the plot? Did it hold your interest? Was it too sensational by today's standards? For those of you who are fans of detective fiction, how closely does this book follow today's standards for detective fiction? Ann Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. Carrie Fisher
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (2 of 26), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mary Anne Papale mapreads@aol.com Date: Tuesday, January 01, 2002 01:59 PM I love a good mystery, and I loved this book. I can't imagine how I've gone so long without reading The Moonstone. I loved the names too: Miss Clack reminded me of "cluck" as in a clucking hen. And she was all that. I was struck, though, how she ended up impoverished and so went to live in France. Is that what poor Brits do, or is that a humorous twist? In my library edition, there is an introduction by Catherine Peters, that points out Collins' alternative point of view of peoples of color. Following on the heels of Victory, I did feel that many of the imperialist stereotypes were put to the test. In most writings of the era, those with dark complexions are assumed to have evil or mischief in their hearts. Collins does a good job of challenging that. MAP
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (3 of 26), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Tuesday, January 01, 2002 02:34 PM MAP, Ezra Jennings had a dark complexion and was very sympathetically portrayed, wasn't he? Since this was a 19th century novel I fully expected to have all the loose ends tied up and I was waiting for an explanation of Jennings' early history. I believe Dickens would have explained Jennings' story, but Collins resisted the temptation. Aside from Miss Clack, most of the female characters were portrayed very sympathetically. I liked Miss Rachel and her mother very much, and I thought he handled the story of the luckless Rosanna very well. Ann
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (4 of 26), Read 38 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Tuesday, January 01, 2002 07:03 PM Ann- I think what made this novel stand out was Collins' ability to combine a good, flat out mystery with his comments on social mores and the characters he used as narrators. One article I read said that his use of several narrators allowed him more freedom to explore the injustices and class stereotypes. It was uncommon to spend time on the underclasses like Betteredge and Rosanna. I thought the Miss Clack chapters were high comedy, indeed. Didn't you just love the way Rachel's mother handled all those tracts? She just bundled them up and sent them back. HA! The Select Committee of the Mothers'-Small-Clothes-Conversion Society indeed!!!!! Too rich! I think Collins and I would have gotten along great on this point about the holier than thous. Miss Clack felt "devout thankfulness" for Lady Verinder's illness. "Here was a career of usefulness opened before me!" How annoying, and how very sad for someone to live her life like that. I also got a kick out of Ablewhite's referring to Miss Clack as a "Rampant Spinster." Perhaps I should have felt sorry for her, but each time I was on the brink, she would whip out one of those tracts or fall into her holy prattle. Though Miss Clack doesn't have the depth of Betteredge, I think she is remarkably well drawn. She's a living, breathing, stereotype I won't soon forget. K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (5 of 26), Read 39 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Tuesday, January 01, 2002 07:36 PM I enjoyed this book much more this time around than I remember enjoying it before. The characters were such fun. I loved the Dickensian names: Betteredge, Clack, Godfrey Ablewhite... I was more drawn to Betteredge than any of the other characters. But I reveled in the comical assassination job done on Miss Clack. Wicked. As for Ablewhite - I knew that pompous freak was up to no good. I found Our Hero, Franklin Blake, might have been better named Lessthanfranklin Blank. What spunky Rachel would want with that milksop is beyond me. But then Fine Upstanding Characters are much harder to write than strange ones. My interest flagged towards the end of the book, where the emphasis shifted more towards plot than character. And I did think Ablewhite's double life needed to have been foreshadowed just a tad. Ruth As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there, Or a general raises his hand and is given the field glasses, Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Richard Wilbur Walking to Sleep
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (6 of 26), Read 40 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mary Anne Papale mapreads@aol.com Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 12:00 AM On Ezra Jennings, it seemed odd to have such an important character introduced so late in the book, particularly in a mystery. His appearance (the piebald hair) and his suspicious background seemed to throw me off track. I read that Collins had the whole story outlined well in advance, but I still have to wonder about Ezra. Is it possible that Collins was suffering so with his own maladies that he had to write that into the story? MAP
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (7 of 26), Read 41 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 12:33 AM I had the same feeling, MAP. To throw him into the mix so late, and then to make so much of his miseries and oddness and yet never have the explanation of them. Ruth As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there, Or a general raises his hand and is given the field glasses, Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Richard Wilbur Walking to Sleep
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (8 of 26), Read 41 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 01:42 AM To prove that serendipity is alive and well in 2002, I opened a magazine and one of the paragraphs in an article on unmarried women sleuths fits in here. "One could argue a proto-spinster sleuth is present in the first English detective novel, Wilkie Collins' THE MOONSTONE (1868). Miss Clack, a poor relation, is one of several narrators in the book. The sacred Indian gem of the title has mysteriously disappeared. Miss Clack relates some of the events leading to the resolution. Poor and frustrated, she is a very uncharitable in her assessments of others. Involved in numerous strange charitable committees, she feels compelled to put her version of Christianity and its tracts before all about her and succeeds in alienating all her rich relations. In the course of her antics she overhears interesting facts. What keeps this wittily drawn, tragic character from true spinster sleuth status is determined prejudice. She refuses to interpret what she knows against suspects she likes." SPINSTER SLEUTHS, by Nigel Tappin THE MYSTERY REVIEW; Volume 10, No. 2, Winter 2002 EDD "This is when I really worried about the state of his mind. He's spoken in unadorned, intelligible sentences, forgetting to modify, embellish, and obfuscate. He'd spoken to clearly and succinctly, I knew he was on his way to a breakdown." THE BLUEST BLOOD by Gillian Roberts.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (9 of 26), Read 36 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 09:54 AM ****WARNING PLOT SPOILERS!!**** Collins had pretty well written himself into a corner with the revelation that Rachel had seen Franklin take the moonstone. He needed Ezra Pound as part of his elaborate opium explanation. Collins had to be drawing on his own use of the drug in creating this character. Still, I think Ezra would have been more effective if he had been introduced earlier. As a reader, I wanted to know more about his early background, but perhaps we knew enough. He appeared to be the child of an English man and a native woman from one of the colonies (perhaps India?). That alone would have been enough to insure his misery in English society. In addition, he suffered from a painful, incurable disease in a time when doctors had little to offer patients and chronic illnesses were common. There was a mysterious and well-loved woman in his part, probably a lover but possibly a daughter. In his introduction, Collins talk about the almost intolerable pain he suffered while writing this novel, mental anguish due to the death of his mother and physical misery due to rheumatic gout. These began when the novel was about a third finished. That first third is definitely the most polished and witty, although the final two-thirds also held my interest. These personal problems probably affected his writing. Ann
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (10 of 26), Read 41 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Alice CK aliceck@pacbell.net Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 11:43 AM Warning: I find it impossible to comment on this book without disclosing the plot, so this comment is full of spoilers! I'm an inveterate reader of pre-WWII British mystery novels (Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, Josephine Tey), and I can say that several of the classic conventions for detective novels probably have their origin in this book. The most common one is probably the motif of one character's suspicious behavior, which everyone interprets as guilt, but which is in fact an attempt to shield another character whom s/he believes (usually erroneously) to be guilty. Also, whenever one character sleeps unusually soundly (especially when they've been sleeping badly of late), you always know they've been drugged (usually by the guilty person, in order to keep them from hearing anything suspicious during the night). I too felt that Ezra Jennings came out of nowhere -- and I felt profoundly dissatisfied with the explanation that Frank did everything under the influence of laudanum, and remembered nothing the next morning. However, as others have said, if Collins himself was addicted to laudanum, he must have been familiar with its effects. (And the character of Jennings takes on a whole new significance in light of this information, especially Jennings' terrible nightmares after he'd taken the laudanum -- that must have been something Collins had experienced many times.) Frankly, after the finding of Frank's nightgown, I expected that it would turn out to have been Godfrey's nightgown, which he had put Frank's name on once he discovered the paint stains, and put in Frank's room in order to throw suspicion on Frank. Miss Clack was extremely amusing, especially in the way she constantly betrayed her real motivations even while ascribing the purest and most spiritual intentions to herself. I especially liked the way she excused herself for hiding in the alcove and spying on Godfrey's proposal to Rachel: "I was so painfully uncertain whether it was my first duty to close my eyes, or to stop my ears, that I did neither. I attribute my being still able to hold the curtain in the right place for looking and listening, entirely to suppressed hysterics. In suppressed hysterics, it is admitted even by the doctors, that one must hold something." And there she is with her eyes glued to the crack in the curtain, listening with all her ears! I also liked the passage where she finds out that Lady Verinder didn't leave her anything in her will -- somehow, Miss Clack's raptures on how thankful she is that now nobody can ascribe motives of greed to her attentions to Lady Verinder, totally convey her deep disappointment. I laughed out loud when I came to the conversation between Betteredge and Jennings about the "burst buzzard." That was the perfect spot in the narrative to include some comic relief! "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." -- Francis Bacon
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (11 of 26), Read 42 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 12:27 PM Alice, ** More plot spoilers********** Much as I disliked Miss Clack, I felt sorry that she never got the promised bequest. It must have been hell being a poor spinster relative in those days. I too initially questioned how opium could cause Franklin to take the diamond and then remember nothing about it. However, Collins was more or less an expert on the drug, so I decided to trust him. Ann
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (12 of 26), Read 36 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mary Anne Papale mapreads@aol.com Date: Wednesday, January 02, 2002 08:42 PM Edd, I thought Miss Clack wasn't a sleuth at all, since she didn't concern herself with the Moonstone at all. Her writings were more character background information for the reader. They let us know that there was more to Rachel than the spoiled girl message we got from Betteredge, that Lady Verinder was ill, and that good old Godfrey wasn't quite as honest as we thought. Which brings up another point: how many mysteries are there where the object of investigation, in this case the jewel, drops from mention for so much of the story? Usually, you are driving, driving toward the solution. Here, we take a break, but of course you know Collins will get back to it. That must have driven the serial readers nuts. MAP
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (13 of 26), Read 33 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Thursday, January 03, 2002 02:34 AM MARY ANNE I think that the thesus of the writer was that Collins had a chance to create the first "spinster sleuth" with Ms Clack. Like most spinster sleuths of literature, she had excellent powers of observation. That she didn't solve the mystery left it for another author to create the right character at the right time. EDD
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (14 of 26), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, January 03, 2002 06:29 AM I continue to doubt Franklin's memory loss after taking the laudanum, unless it's similar to the black outs some alcoholics experience. I also doubt he would have repeated his actions after the second dose, no matter how skilled Jennings was. However, I am more than willing to accept Collins' need for a plot device to promote a semi-satisfactory resolution to his mystery. He had to explain Franklin's aberrant behavior somehow, and Franklin's innocent use of laudanum totally absolved him. MOONSTONE is still a great read due to the strong characterizations. K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (15 of 26), Read 28 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, January 03, 2002 11:27 AM I agree, Kay. I would think that Franklin would have felt some after effects of having taken such a drug for the first time. Also, in support of his experiment, Jennings mentions a drunk who forgets when he is sober and remembers when he is drunk. Would it not then merely be necessary to give Franklin some laudanum to bring back the memory of that night without having to recreate every detail? But, having recreated the setting, wouldn't Franklin have remembered into which drawer the diamond had been placed? Nevertheless, I will not begrudge Collins the device especially as it means that we got to meet Jennings and enjoy his exchange with Betteredge. At least it didn't end, as I was dreading that it might, with the conclusion "the butler did it." Incidentally, I believe that Jennings' mother was from Trinidad. Collins makes no secret of his atheism in his depiction of the two proselytizers, Clack and Betteredge. The hypocrital Clack is contrasted with the sincere Betteredge as he attempts to convert people to his own biblion. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (16 of 26), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Thursday, January 03, 2002 12:13 PM Which reminds me - what is the deal with Betteredge's constant reference to ROBINSON CRUSOE? I have never read it, and find myself wondering if there are any parallels to be drawn between it and MOONSTONE? I'm wondering if it was more than a comic device. Perhaps there is a correlation between the "noble savages" of Friday and Jennings? You're right, Dean. Betteredge's adamant faith in RC was every bit as solid as Miss Clack's in the Bible. One difference is that Clack spent her time trying to convert others and Betteredge spent his living what he believed. He offered his source, but did not push and make a nuisance of himself. Is it possible Collins intended that contrast, or is that something I'm reading into it? K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (17 of 26), Read 33 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Thursday, January 03, 2002 02:38 PM Kay, that is exactly the distinction which I saw between Clack and Betteredge. I think that Collins is quite consciously making the point that wisdom and solace can be found in more than one place and that each person can find it for erself and live by the principles which e finds there. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (18 of 26), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Thursday, January 03, 2002 06:55 PM Dean, Does the text specifically state that Jennings mother was from Trinidad? Ann, just curious
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (19 of 26), Read 30 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, January 04, 2002 01:40 PM Wasn't it fun how Clack spoke of herself? 'Me' had that 'Capitalized M.' I could almost hear the accentuated..MMMEEEEE ...mememememeemememe, ME! And as far as her spinsterhood goes, that's certainly not a surprise! What man would want to be saddled with a self proclaimed Miss 'PerpetualVirginMary, HolierThanGODHimself?'..(Tho it was obvious to me Godfrey ROCKED her world.) And what a farce it was that her charitable works involved shortening men's trousers to give to poor children! I bet she fantasied that the men were still wearing them as she snipped! What about Roseanna Spearman? Was she good or was she bad? At first I thought she had transformed, under Mrs. Verinder's wing, into this lovely lady, but after her note to Franklin, I did wonder about her motives..for the note, that is. One thing i did not understand...the three Brahmins..why were they so condemned? I mean, they were only attempting to return the diamond to the temple from where it had been stolen in the first place. Beej
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (20 of 26), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, January 04, 2002 05:35 PM Oooooooh, Beej. You are almost as wicked to Poor Saintly Miss Clack, as WC was. Ruth As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there, Or a general raises his hand and is given the field glasses, Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Richard Wilbur Walking to Sleep
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (21 of 26), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Friday, January 04, 2002 08:32 PM (are spoiler warnings needed in the actual discussion thread? I'll post a warning, just in case..) SPOILER! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ And while I'm at it..Rachel watches the man she professes to love steal the diamond and never says anything to him? She just keeps hiding and NEVER SAYS A WORD??? Man, I certainly would never have made it as a 19th century Lady. They would have heard my mouth straight down thru to the servant's kitchen. Beej
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (22 of 26), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Friday, January 04, 2002 10:19 PM Exactly the same thought I had, Beej. Exactly. Ruth As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there, Or a general raises his hand and is given the field glasses, Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Richard Wilbur Walking to Sleep
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (23 of 26), Read 14 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Alice CK aliceck@pacbell.net Date: Friday, January 04, 2002 11:57 PM Beej, I agree about Godfrey being more to Miss Clack than a Christian Hero. In the scene where he talks with her after Rachel has broken off their engagement, she's obviously longing for him to kiss her (probably the last thing on his mind) but she describes her state of mind as "spiritual ecstasy!" About Frank, I didn't like him at all when he was being described by Betteredge, but once it got to his own narration I started to like him more -- and I liked him very much in Jennings' narration. And although Betteredge was very likable in his own narration, I got a much better picture of what he was like when the other characters narrated. "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." -- Francis Bacon
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (24 of 26), Read 19 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Saturday, January 05, 2002 12:46 AM Ann, in searching for an answer to your question, I found a web site which confirms that the colonial outpost of Jennings's upbringing is undisclosed. It also addresses the excellent question which Beej raised about the treatment of the Brahmins. Beej, I loved your comments about Clack. Here's the site: http://www.qub.ac.uk/english/imperial/india/moonstone.htm Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (25 of 26), Read 6 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Saturday, January 05, 2002 11:11 AM "Rachel’s stained gown and altered personality suggest the potential for loss of virginity and marriage to subsume her individuality and identity." 1) What gown of Rachel's was stained? I thought the only stained gown belonged to Franklin. That's why Rosanna hid it. 2) I agree in most part with the article Dean posted. But I do think the author is stretching a bit when he draws the parallel between Rachel's virginity and the rape of the Indian moonstone. It works, but I would wager that's one point Collins didn't realize he was making. I'd bet he saw the theft simply as a means to move the plot along. 3) I found Rosanna's actions quite in line with her past and personality. Even if she had turned into a good girl under Lady Verinder's kindness, she still carried the guilt of her past crimes. So, when she thought Franklin had committed the theft, she allowed him the same grace she had found and set out to protect him. I found Rosanna very sympathetic. She said nothing to Franklin because she simply couldn't find the courage to do so. She did the next best thing and took steps to protect him the only way she knew how. K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (26 of 26), Read 8 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Saturday, January 05, 2002 11:31 AM Kay, I wondered what gown of Rachel's was stained, too. (I missed that, unless the author of the article was referring to the probability that Rachel sh** herself when she saw Franklin steal the diamond!) I took the rape business in Dean's link to mean the British 'raping' of India during the siege of Seringapatam, and how, that having been done, the Moonstone caused the ruination for someone whose life, up until possession of the diamond, had been innocent. Hence, Rachel was no longer (emotionally) virginal. Rosanna...I understand why she took the paint smeared gown. What I didn't understand was why, if her motive was to protect Franklin, she didn't simply throw it in the swamp. Why preserve it? And, why the letter to Franklin? And, why commit suicide? Did that REALLY have anything to do with Franklin? It seemed to me suicide was on this woman's mind long before she met him. Beej
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (27 of 33), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernie Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Saturday, January 05, 2002 04:50 PM This book held a number of surprises for me. The first one was that our local library did not have it on the computer, yet I found 3 copies on the shelves. So I got an early start which is helpful to a very slow reader. The second surprise was in the book itself. I found it was written in the classical mystery style of the 1850s. I would suppose it predates Sherlock Holmes. But this book is delightfully different from most of the stuff that we have been reading over the years. The characters are, I would say, "Classic Types" for that day and age. Whoever picked the book should get a gold medal! (Do you pass them out Ann?) Kay the fact that I read Robinson Crusoe dates me - unfortunately. I read it in my childhood and its about a ship wrecked family who established themselves on an island. However natives attacked them and they were rescued just - at the last moment by the crew of an unexpected ship passing by. At least this is what I remember from long ago. Reading Robinson Crusoe as a constant source of entertainment and relaxation (while smoking his pipe) would point to a somewhat simple, unsophisticated type who has fun escaping into a fantasy world. As I am only 1/4 through the book I am looking forward to the relaxation and enjoyment in store for all of us in the following 3/4. Of course I am getting very curious about Wilkie Collins' personality and hope to find out more about him. Ernie
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (28 of 33), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, January 05, 2002 05:38 PM Ernie, are you sure you haven't mixed up Robinson Crusoe and Swiss Family Robinson. I've never read RC, but I think it's only one guy - until he finds his native friend Friday. SFR is about a family, and it was one of my favorite books when I was a kid. I read it over and over. Glad you're enjoying the Moonstone. I sure did. I love the voices of the different characters, don't you? Ruth As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there, Or a general raises his hand and is given the field glasses, Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Richard Wilbur Walking to Sleep
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (29 of 33), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Saturday, January 05, 2002 08:06 PM I, also, think that the article is wrong about Rachel's stained gown, although Beej's idea gave me quite a chuckle. I liked the article because it mentions that Collins wanted to point out the colonial attitude toward other cultures. This is still an issue today in the case of the Parthenon Marbles, a series of sculptures which Lord Elgin shipped to London over the course of several years up to 1810. These artifacts are still a contentious issue between Greece and the United Kingdom. More info here: http://www.greece.org/parthenon/marbles/ Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (30 of 33), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, January 05, 2002 10:33 PM Great website on the marbles, Dean. What I wouldn't have given for the resources of the web when I was teaching Art History. Ruth As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there, Or a general raises his hand and is given the field glasses, Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Richard Wilbur Walking to Sleep
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (31 of 33), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Sunday, January 06, 2002 01:39 AM I know, Ruth. I'm amazed at the quality of information to be found on the web. I also wanted to mention that the Moonstone article makes an interesting point about Collins giving opium a positive role in the story. I admire Collins for the way he used literature to break down Victorian social barriers. Not that he was the only one to do this but I was surprised to find it in this type of work and the novel left me unexpectedly uplifted. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (32 of 33), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, January 06, 2002 03:38 AM Though the article is right about imperial colonialism, I do want to point out that the three Brahmins do commit murder to retrieve the moonstone. K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (33 of 33), Read 8 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Sunday, January 06, 2002 10:25 AM Absolutely true, Kay. 'Tis true that the basic difference between the Brahmins' desire and the British characters' desire to possess the Moonstone is that one wants it for religious reasons and the other for wealth...two of life's greatest motivations. But is one really better than the other? I mean, on the surface its easy to assume spiritual motivation is superior, but these Brahmins not only murdered in order to get the diamond, they felt justified in doing so. At least those who desired the diamond for monetary reasons didn't behave as if as they believed they had God on their side. Is Rachel the only one who wants it simply because of its beauty? (The Moonstone is primarily a tale of... an English society with a central core of rottenness. God, I love that!) Beej
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (34 of 45), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Sunday, January 06, 2002 02:05 PM Wow -- gotta get finished with my reread -- I'm flying along and will chime in sometime -- but ANN, are you gonna give out a gold medal as Ernie suggests? {WBEG--wicked big evil grin}? ggggg As to books of type -- in some book talk yesterday with my hairdresser -- I came out with something which I hadn't realized had registered as I was rereading The Moonstone -- I am finding it reminds me of Alias Grace and The Alienist in tone of the mysterious threads of the stories. Collins influencing current writers possibly? Dottie Solitude is a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end. Every choice is a world made new for the chosen. Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (35 of 45), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Lynn Isvik washualum@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, January 06, 2002 09:55 PM One thing I found particularly intruiging about this story is that the person responsible for asking witnesses to record the facts of the mystery is the one who turns out to have taken the Moonstone in the first place. In essence, he was asking people to help him nail himself. That plot twist was surprising to me, but perfectly understandable in the end since Franklin had to piece the story together in order to demonstrate his ultimate innocence. Lynn
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (36 of 45), Read 19 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Sunday, January 06, 2002 10:00 PM Was anyone else surprised that Rachel accepted the opium/amnesia theory so readily? Beej
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (37 of 45), Read 20 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Lynn Isvik washualum@yahoo.com Date: Sunday, January 06, 2002 10:05 PM I wasn't really surprised by that. She obviously loved Franklin so much that she was anxious to find any explanation that could exonerate him. Lynn
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (38 of 45), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Sunday, January 06, 2002 10:40 PM Lynn, didn't Franklin ask for these reports after the mystery had been solved? The seventh narrative, which speaks of Ezra's death, is dated September 26th, 1849. But the conversation Franklin had with Betteredge asking that the details be recorded, was dated May 21, 1850. Beej
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (39 of 45), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 06:42 AM I finished this yesterday morning in a marathon reading session, after staying up until 11:30 (late for me) reading in bed. I actually had a headache from the small print that lasted all day. After Franklin found out he was the one who "stole" the diamond, I just couldn't wait to find out what happened. The narrator device was very well-done I think, except that people in that day had a much better memory for details than I have. I loved Betteredge's voice and Miss Clack (Drusilla Clack -- what a name!) was outrageously funny, although I did get a bit tired of her after a while. Her narrative was mercifully short. At the end, I was a little impatient with all the wrapup material, but I was glad to see that the Moonstone was returned to its rightful place (although I, too, disapprove of murder, even the murder of scoundrels -- but oh, there would be so many fewer fun books to read without it). Sherry
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (40 of 45), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 07:40 AM I'm wondering why Collins had the Brahmins kill to retrieve the diamond. They were certainly crafty enough and sufficient in force to have tied Godfrey up and left with the jewel. That seems to mar the justification Collins seemed to be going for when he tried to show the cons of imperialism. K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (41 of 45), Read 17 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 08:04 AM That's a good question, Kay. And Collins made certain we understood that the Brahmins wouldn't hesitate to kill if it meant retrieving the Moonstone. He mentioned it often enough throughout the story. Maybe he didn't want our sympathy to stray too far from Rachel. Or maybe he wanted the reader to be fully aware that the importance of the Moonstone to them superceded life itself. Beej
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (42 of 45), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 10:26 AM Maybe he believed that people everywhere will kill in the name of religion. Ann
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (43 of 45), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Lynn Isvik washualum@yahoo.com Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 10:38 AM I got the feeling that death to the person who stole the stone was part of the curse placed on it when it was stolen originally in India. It seemed to be the penalty attached to taking the diamond from its rightful place. And, yes, Beej, Franklin doesn't ask the witnesses to write their narratives until after the mystery is solved. However, the reader doesn't know that at the beginning of the book of course. That's why I thought it was an interesting plot device. It worked well to keep THIS reader from suspecting Franklin until well into the unfolding of the mystery. Lynn
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (44 of 45), Read 11 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 11:13 AM Was it Ablewhite's father or uncle that stole the stone? Last name was Herncastle, I think. Perhaps its a "sins of the fathers" kind of curse. None of the subsequent possessors understood the stone's religious significance. They appreciated it primarily for its monetary value. Perhaps that's the true sin. Yes, I think it's possible Collins was making the point that all sorts of crimes are committed using religion as justification. His attack may have been on more than just the Christian religion. K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (45 of 45), Read 1 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Alice CK aliceck@pacbell.net Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 03:22 PM As I remember, John Herncastle was uncle to all three of the young people -- Rachel, Franklin and Godfrey. The three of them were cousins through their mothers, who were all Misses Herncastle before they married. I recently realized that I have been subconsciously associating Franklin Blake's character with that of Frank Churchill in Emma -- the same spoiled, charming, lightweight, likable young man, who gets the girl (of course Frank Churchill's "girl" is not the one we suspect at first) in spite of everything. "Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man." -- Francis Bacon
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (46 of 52), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Jody Richael Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 05:18 PM SPOILERS Alice thanks for your earlier comments about mysteries. I'm not an avid reader of them so it was interesting to learn a little more. I also agree with Mary Ann's comments about Ezra. I thought he was introduced too late and he also threw me off. I was very skeptical of his motives. Do you think Collins intends for the reader to have the plot figured out before it is revealed or not? I did a quick reread after reading the novel and found more hints than I caught at first but I don’t think anyone could really have guessed the ending based on the information he provides. In fact there is no one character in the novel who put the entire thing together. In the preface to my book, Collins said that his purpose in past novels was to trace the influence of circumstance on character but that his purpose with The Moonstone was to trace the influence of character on circumstance. I’m not exactly sure what he means by that or how one is really different from the other. Does anyone have any ideas? Two unresolved issues for me: 1) Uncle Herncastle’s will specified that the diamond was only to be given to Rachel as long as her mother was living. Why was that? We never really do find the uncle’s motive in leaving the diamond to Rachel. 2) Why did Rachel refuse to have her wardrobe searched? She knew they wouldn’t find anything. Was this just a device to get us to think Rachel was guilty or did it have some other purpose? I enjoyed the book and loved the humor! Jody
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (47 of 52), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mary Anne Papale mapreads@aol.com Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 06:46 PM Beej, I also found Rachel's acceptance of the opium explanation a little too swift. She gets an unsolicited letter from Ezra Jennings, who she doesn't know, proposing his theory, and she jumps at the explanation. This after having given Franklin the royal boot in person. Her character throughout led me to believe that a turnaround on Rachel's part would take a lot more than it did. Was Collins anxious to wrap things up at that point? Did anyone expect that Ezra Jennings would be discredited when the inspector got to town? I thought perhaps his past would catch up to him the way Miss Spearman's did. MAP
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (48 of 52), Read 21 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 06:57 PM >> Uncle Herncastle’s will specified that the diamond was only to be given to Rachel as long as her mother was living. Why was that? Uncle H had had a grand falling out with his sister. What better way to get back at her than to will the Bad Luck Diamond to her daughter and not to her? What mother wouldn't squirm while watching her daughter suffer? Ruth As a queen sits down, knowing that a chair will be there, Or a general raises his hand and is given the field glasses, Step off assuredly into the blank of your mind. Richard Wilbur Walking to Sleep
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (49 of 52), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Beej Connor connorva@mindspring.com Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 07:16 PM MAP, The entire character of Ezra Jennings surprised me. Sinister in appearance and unpopular as he was, my mindset, right from his introduction, expected him to be a carbon copy of Uriah Heep. Your thoughts on Rachel's hasty acceptance of Ezra's explanation are exactly the same as mine. If she loved him enough to so readily accept what Ezra wrote, then it seems to me she would have loved him enough to have asked him, from the get go, what the hell he thought he was doing when he took that diamond. I just can't picture letting something fester and destroy a relationship with someone you love that deeply, without a fight. But, that's just me. How interesting that the curse did not effect Franklin..the supposed thief. It seems to me, even tho he took it, the Moonstone was really stolen by Godfrey, and the curse caught up with him. I think Rachel refused to allow her wardrobe to be checked as a means of preventing any searching at all. She knew Franklin's gown was the one with the stain. Beej
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (50 of 52), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Sherry Keller shkell@starband.net Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 08:04 PM I think Ezra Jennings was mentioned a couple of times during the novel as Dr. Candy's assistant. Rachel would know he was a doctor and would know him even if the readers didn't, since Dr. Candy was her doctor. Sherry
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (51 of 52), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Monday, January 07, 2002 09:33 PM Could "Dr. Candy" be a reference to the placebo effect? Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (52 of 52), Read 6 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Kay Dugan okaychatt@yahoo.com Date: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 06:21 AM Could be, Dean. I also wonder if it's not a reference to his kind nature. He was very good to Ezra. I have no idea whether he was an effective physician or not. K
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (53 of 56), Read 37 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernie Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 03:12 PM Ruth, You were, as usual, correct about pointing out to me the difference between Robinson Crusoe and the Family book. I looked it up last night in one of my source book. That taught me a lesson: You can't trust childhood memories when you are in your old age (BG). So, I stand corrected and now have to read Robinson Crusoe once more. I truly love the Moonstone book in part because it is so different from the stuff we usually read. Also I am interested in the social stratification of 19th Century England. They really drew the line between classes and I do recall that I was amazed when I observed how class differences were of much lesser importance in the US. compared to Vienna. At that time people of different classes only rarely if ever socialized. How things have changed! Ernie
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (54 of 56), Read 26 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Jody Richael Date: Tuesday, January 08, 2002 04:27 PM What did you think of the technique of using the many different narrators? It was interesting and effective but I found myself always wondering if I should really be trusting what each person was reporting. In most of their narratives their records of actual events are accurate but the motives and meanings they infer from people's actions frequently were wrong. Betteredge in particular seemed to misread many people while his daughter Penelope seemed to always get it right. Jody
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (55 of 56), Read 19 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Wednesday, January 09, 2002 11:34 AM I liked hearing the different versions. The different interpretations which the characters make on the facts and the consequences of those interpretations may be what Collins meant by "character determining circumstance." Also, the insights into culture which these versions provide raise the novel above genre into literature. Concerning the different characters, I agree with those who would have preferred that Jennings be introduced earlier. Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (56 of 56), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernie Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Thursday, January 10, 2002 04:15 PM Jody, I agree with Dean that introducing these different characters not only make things more interesting but also throws new light on the mystery and the way each person perceives and interprets it. It makes the book! Miss Clack reminds me of a lady character presented in one of C. Dicken's books who was unusually narrow minded. I understand the Dickens and Collins were friends and co-workers in a journal that Dickens published. Their writings may have something in common. Ernie
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (57 of 57), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dean Denis dddenis@telus.net Date: Friday, January 11, 2002 04:53 PM Ernie, my edition has an introduction by J.I.M. Stewart which says that Collins did influence Dickens. They both contributed to "Household Words" and "All the Year Round." The central situation of a play by Collins, "The Frozen Deep," gave Dickens his idea for a "Tale of Two Cities." Dean. All roads lead to roam.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (58 of 59), Read 16 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Karen Kasmar doctorsadie@aol.com Date: Sunday, January 20, 2002 09:36 PM I found the use of narrator device to be refreshing. I only regret that I spent so many years not having read this fine novel. Being the nosy human that I am, I couldn't wait to read each character's narrative, to see how the plot thickened. I still don't get the repeated references to Robinson Crusoe, save the fact that this was a little man who read to escape reality, but I have feeling there's more to it than that.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (59 of 59), Read 15 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ernie Belden drernest@pacbell.net Date: Monday, January 21, 2002 12:15 AM After finishing The Moonstone recently I like to express some general and more specific comments as well. First of all that the carefully worked out and intricate design reflect on Collin's ability as a writer of mysteries. All the pieces fit together resembling some ancient and intricate tapestry. I also find the characters fascinating and well portrayed, be it Ezra Jennings, Roseanna Spearman etc. But who in my opinion really stand out are Franklin Blake and Gabriel Betteredge. I feel sympathy toward Rachel but I found her less interesting or unique. Introducing the Shivering Sand added a mysterious and even frightening aspect to the story. On the negative side, I found his description of the Indian natives questionable but understand the author's prejudices based on the biased colonial views of his time. All in all this was an excellent selection which I enjoyed more than many of the other books that we have been reading. The book held my interest at all times and can be well considered an excellent old fashioned thriller and precursor of subsequent mysteries. Ernie
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (60 of 61), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2002 08:01 AM I'd like to chime in just once more -- if only to say that I am sorry I didn't post more on this one{G} -- Ann -- I just this moment read the tag line on your initial post -- God, I love it -- Carrie Fisher is one of my favs! If I didn't say so earlier -- I loved the reactions which Collins and The Moonstone received from the first time readers here -- it is such fun to hear what someone says about a book which one has loved for so many years! Again I would like to pose the question on Collins possible influence on present day writers -- I was particularly thinking of the books Alias Grace, The Alienist, and even perhaps An Instance of the Fingerpost. What do you think? I recall these as having used various viewpoints/narrators, similarities in character development and relating to the time frame in which their stories were unfolding in much the same way The Moonstone is presented. Regarding Jody's question on Collin's intent for the reader to figure out the plot ahead of the revelations of the same -- I don't really know for certain but think that I did not do so on my first encounter with this book at junior high age-- and am thinking that that may even have been one reason for my being hooked so firmly to this book for lo these many years! Thanks for a great discussion on one of my all-time favorite books. Dottie Solitude is a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end. Every choice is a world made new for the chosen. Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (61 of 61), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2002 08:02 AM Ann -- maybe not just READ it but just REGISTERED it {G} Dottie Solitude is a human presumption. Every quiet step is thunder to beetle life underfoot, a tug of impalpable thread on the web pulling mate to mate and predator to prey, a beginning or an end. Every choice is a world made new for the chosen. Prodigal Summer, Barbara Kingsolver
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (62 of 64), Read 18 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2002 01:13 PM Dottie, Yes, I ran across that quote by Carrie Fisher in Esquire magazine: "Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die." It struck me as so, so true. Now, if I can just remember those words of wisdom. :) The Moonstone is a perfect example of why I enjoy this place. It's a book I never, ever would have picked up on my own. In fact, I never expected it to be so witty or clever. And yet, it was one of my most enjoyable reads on Classics Corner this year. And no, I didn't figure out the mystery until the end, but its solution was really secondary to me. I just thoroughly enjoyed the characters. Of course, Collins reminds me of Dickens in some ways, but I like the way he didn't sentimentalize the pitiful Rosanna, as I feel Dickens would have done. Dickens can be just as witty at times, but so much of his work gets buried in quirky, cardboard characters and rampant sentimentality. Ann
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (63 of 64), Read 13 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Mary Anne Papale mapreads@aol.com Date: Wednesday, January 30, 2002 08:58 PM Dottie, I've read two of the three books you mentioned, Alias and Instance, and my reaction is that The Moonstone is so much better than either of those. I've read many mysteries over the years, but I can't really say I've been a student of the genre. Could Collins be called one of the earliest mystery writers? I'm thinking that he would, and that he set the bar quite high for the rest. Of the more modern mystery writers, I would prefer Umberto Eco. Strike now, or else the iron cools. - W. Shakespeare MAP
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (64 of 64), Read 8 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Dottie Randall randallj@ix.netcom.com Date: Thursday, January 31, 2002 03:58 AM MAP -- oh I agree the new ones can't touch Moonstone -- just felt there might have been some influence in these few which seem to be reaching back in style toward Collins fin work. I also think you may have the right choice in Eco -- yes, closer in quality to this one. And I think it may be on the main page in the synopsis on Moonstone that it states this is touted as the first English mystery -- something to that effect anyway. Dottie
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (65 of 65), Read 7 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Thursday, January 31, 2002 09:42 PM I finally got the chance to start Moonstone today and am delighted by the first few pages. Have tried not to read much of this thread until I'm done to avoid the spoilers. However, I've noted how many of you were surprised at the quality of it (I never would have read this without CC either, Ann) and I see what you mean already. Am looking forward to reading the discussion when I finish. Barb

Topic: Moonstone Discussion (9 of 17), Read 25 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Friday, March 15, 2002 11:56 PM A few comments on THE MOONSTONE before DARK ANGEL starts. Incidentally my copy is a Modern Library version which I bought second hand back in the Jurassic Era. It was marked down from $2.95 to $1.65. A real bargain, considering that it also contains THE WOMAN IN WHITE also. Diane has read both of these, but I procrastinated until this golden opportunity. One thing that bothers me a whole lot is the relationship between Rachel, Franklin and Godfrey. Aren't these people closely related. First cousins, aren't they? Doesn't this play hell with the gene pool? Didn't the Europeans learn what happens when you inbreed when all of that hemophilia in the royal gene pool? If it isn't against the law it sure as hell ought to be. For all the talk and build up by Collins and the old servant, can't recall his name right now, I thought Rachel came across as a bit of a ninny. Pure motive or not, all she had to do was open her mouth at the time the Moonstone disappeared and the mystery would have been solved on the spot. Of course Godfrey might have had a different end. Betteridge (see I remembered) was a quaint old soul. Rather likeable I thought. I think Collins was making fun of a certain type of person with the ROBINSON CRUSOE gimmick. Some people had the idea that if you opened the BIBLE to any page at random, then what you pointed at explained whatever problem you might have at that moment. Sort of a message from GOD. Of course it takes a lot of interpreting, but those kind of people had lots of time. Using ROBINSON CRUSOE is a good send up, at least in my opinion. Gotta go, the TV is calling. EDD
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (10 of 17), Read 25 times Conf: Classics Corner From: R Bavetta rbavetta@prodigy.net Date: Saturday, March 16, 2002 12:00 AM My impression is that this type of playing around in the same gene pool was typical of the British upper classes. Possibly an explanation as to why they've never been known for their intelligence. Ruth "Everywhere I go I'm asked if I think the university stifles writers. My opinion is that they don't stifle enough of them." Flannery O'Connor
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (11 of 17), Read 27 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Saturday, March 16, 2002 12:30 AM I really like your idea about Betteridge's use of Robinson Crusoe, Edd. I remember people doing that and think you've hit on something there. It's a perfect little piece of satire. I read Moonstone after everyone here, then enjoyed the archived discussion enormously, but didn't post because I didn't have anything to add. You, on the other hand, came up with something totally new. Barb
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (12 of 17), Read 23 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Joe Barreiro barreiro4@attbi.com Date: Saturday, March 16, 2002 08:10 AM The British upper class did have a thing about selective breeding. One of the nastier ad hominem Creationist attacks against evolution theory I've seen concerns Charles Darwin's marriage to his first cousin which went so far as to state that his children were mentally retarded, despite the fact that most of his children lived long, prosperous lives and were eminent in their own rights in scientific professions. (Of ten children, two died in infancy and one daughter died at the age of ten of TB.) **An aside - it's scary that when I went to do a search on the House of Windsor bloodline a disproportionate number of hits led to David Icke and his lunatic theories; the internet is truly a breeding ground for lies and disinformation.**
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (13 of 17), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Saturday, March 16, 2002 10:03 AM I absolutely agree, Joe. When the parents of the special education children I teach go looking for information on the internet, I always catch my breath a bit. There is so much junk out there presented as fact with implied authority. Barb
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (14 of 17), Read 15 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Sunday, March 17, 2002 01:39 AM Some excerpts from Alexander Woollcott’s introduction to the Modern Library edition of THE MOONSTONE: ”…THE MOONSTONE made its first appearance in 1868 in the weekly journal called 'All the Year Round', of which Charles Dickens was the editor. The Wilkie Collins who wrote it was already known as the author of THE WOMAN IN WHITE, a fearsome and fascinating mystery in some ways more extraordinary and more brilliant than THE MOONSTONE, but as a whole a less perfect work and not properly speaking, a detective story at all. About THE MOONSTONE Dickens, as early as June, 1867, was writing to a colleague in this fashion: I have read the first three numbers of Wilkie's story this morning and have gone minutely through the plot of the rest, to the last line. It gives a series of ‘narratives,’ but it is a very curious story, wild, and yet domestic, with excellent character in it, and great mystery. It is being prepared with extraordinary care, and has every chance of being a hit. It is in many respects much better than anything he has done.” Woollcott mentions the relationship between Collins and Dickens, a relationship that seems to have been mostly ignored by Dickens’ biographer, John Forster. ”...After all, Wilkie was the elder brother of the Charles Collins, who married Kate Dickens and who drew the endlessly debatable sketches for the green jacket, in which the installments of EDWIN DROOD first made their interrupted appearance….Wilkie himself was at once Dickens’s warmest friend, his most welcome collaborator and his most marked influence. …We shall probably be left knowing of William Wilkie Collins little beyond the fact that he was born in London on January 8, 1824 and died there in his sixty-sixth year, and that in his heyday he wrote two of the best mystery stories in any language…” EDD “I knew an old woman who swallowed a horse, she’s dead of course.”
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (15 of 17), Read 9 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, March 17, 2002 09:08 AM Interesting stuff, Edd. I didn't realize that Collins was actually related, in some non-genetic manner, to Dickens. Barb
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (16 of 17), Read 12 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Edward Houghton eddh@pacbell.net Date: Sunday, March 17, 2002 04:23 PM BARBARA It was sort of a back door relationship, but they knew each other and must have met both for social and business reasons. Woollcott has a lot of contempt for the Dickens biographer, maintaining that a lot more could be known of Collins if his relationship with Dickens had been explored. Near the end of his life, Dickens had a huge bonfire where he burned his correspondence and a lot of his notes as I understand it. He also seems to have had his wife committed, possibly not for true medical reasons. Isn't life amusing; a hundred years after the fact, there is still gossip. Maybe I'll look into Dickens' life one of these days. EDD "I knew an old woman who swallowed a rhinoceros, ain't that preposterous?"
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (17 of 17), Read 8 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Barbara Moors bar647@aol.com Date: Sunday, March 17, 2002 05:20 PM I've read a bit about Dickens, Edd, and it's interesting stuff. Of course, I've found that is so about most of the authors I admire. They are all so wonderfully fallible. Barb
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (18 of 19), Read 22 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Joe Barreiro barreiro4@attbi.com Date: Monday, March 18, 2002 06:54 AM Peter Ackroyd's biography on Dickens goes into a lot of detail about many of these things. This was one of the books I most enjoyed reading last year. CD was a very fascinating man. He left his wife for what appeared to be a basically non-sexual relationship with a young actress. He did indeed burn as much of his correspondence as he could find and requested that his friends return his letters so that he could destroy them. Wilkie worked for him on on CD's magazines and he was as well a close personal friend. Dickens would often, till near his death, walk for literally miles every day once he had completed his writing regimen, on occasion walking from town to town on his speaking tours. If I recall correctly he would often walk 20 miles a day as part of his regular routine at a 5 mile an hour pace or so. His friends who would accompany him, including Collins who wasn't the most athletic of specimens, would often be hard-pressed to keep up with him. Collins as I remember him being described was a bit of a roue, who preferred to spend his time enjoying the pleasures of life, including those provided by prostitutes.
Topic: Moonstone Discussion (19 of 19), Read 24 times Conf: Classics Corner From: Ann Davey davey@tconl.com Date: Monday, March 18, 2002 12:32 PM As I remember, Dickens not only abandoned his wife, but he wanted his children to abandon her too. She was set up in a separate household and his wife's sister maintained Dickens' household for many years. He was a complicated man. Collins maintained households with two different women at the same time. He was not in good health and he was addicted to opium as a pain reliever. Ann

 
Wilkie Collins
Wilkie Collins

 
Search:
Keywords:
In Association with Amazon.com