Essay on Moonstone

16256 Words Oct 11th, 2015 66 Pages
THE MOONSTONE by Wilkie Collins

William Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was born in London, the son of a successful landscape painter and member of the Royal Academy, who was also very strict with both his religion and his money. While his son inherited much of his father’s parsimony, he rebelled against the strict morality of his upbringing, and against Victorian morality in general. After the death of his father, he scandalized his family and friends by setting up housekeeping with Caroline Graves, a young woman who already had a daughter, and presumably a husband.
Even when the opportunity presented itself later in life, he refused to marry her, encouraged her to marry another man, and then moved in with her again
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The first serial novel published in the magazine was Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities; the second was The Woman in White (1860).
The story was so successful that it tripled the magazine’s circulation and started a new literary trend - the Sensation Novel. Later novels, including No Name (1862), Armadale (1866), and The
Moonstone (1867), considered the first detective novel (and notably critical of British imperialism in India), were also serialized in Dickens’ magazine, and the two men worked together on some of the periodical’s famous Christmas stories. After Dickens’ death, Collins’ popularity began to fade as his health declined and his living arrangements became more scandalous.

The Moonstone (1868) is considered by many to be the first detective novel. Earlier works such as Edgar Allan Poe’s The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841) and Charles Dickens’ Bleak
House (1852-3) contained detectives, but the first was a short story while the latter had broader themes than the solving of a mystery. Collins in his novel established a familiar pattern - an eccentric detective taking over a case from bumbling local police, clues gradually revealed to the reader as they are revealed to the detective, and the ultimate conviction of the least-likely suspect.
Lesser themes in the novel include the relationship of the British to their lucrative colony in India and the relationships between appearance and reality and between senses and feelings. The

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