The Moonstone (Barnes & Noble Classics Series) [NOOK Book]

Overview

The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of...

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The Moonstone (Barnes & Noble Classics Series)

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Overview

The Moonstone, by Wilkie Collins, is part of the Barnes & Noble Classics series, which offers quality editions at affordable prices to the student and the general reader, including new scholarship, thoughtful design, and pages of carefully crafted extras. Here are some of the remarkable features of Barnes & Noble Classics:

  • New introductions commissioned from today's top writers and scholars
  • Biographies of the authors
  • Chronologies of contemporary historical, biographical, and cultural events
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • Selective discussions of imitations, parodies, poems, books, plays, paintings, operas, statuary, and films inspired by the work
  • Comments by other famous authors
  • Study questions to challenge the reader's viewpoints and expectations
  • Bibliographies for further reading
  • Indices & Glossaries, when appropriate
All editions are beautifully designed and are printed to superior specifications; some include illustrations of historical interest. Barnes & Noble Classics pulls together a constellation of influences—biographical, historical, and literary—to enrich each reader's understanding of these enduring works.
 
Alongside Edgar Allan Poe in America, Britain’s Wilkie Collins stands as the inventor of the modern detective story. The Moonstone introduces all the ingredients: a homey, English country setting, and a colorfully exotic background in colonial India; the theft of a fabulous diamond from the lovely heroine; a bloody murder and a tragic suicide; a poor hero in love with the heroine but suspected of the crime, who can’t remember anything about the night the jewel was stolen; assorted friends, relatives, servants, a lawyer, a doctor, a sea captain—suspects, all; and, most essentially, a bumbling local policeman and a brilliant if eccentric London detective. Adding spice to the recipe are unexpected twists, a bit of dark satire, a dash of social comment, and an unusual but effective narrative structure—eleven different voices relate parts of the tale, each revealing as much about himself (and, in one case, herself) as about the mystery of the missing Moonstone.

Filled with suspense, action, and romance, The Moonstone is as riveting and intoxicating today as it was when it first appeared more than a century ago.
 

Joy Connolly teaches in the Classics Department at New York University. Her recent research includes the history of rhetoric and political thought, and the relationship of literature and ethics. She writes book reviews for the New York Times and other publications.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781411432710
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble
  • Publication date: 6/1/2009
  • Series: Barnes & Noble Classics Series
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 79,697
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

Wilkie Collins
Joy Connolly teaches in the Classics Department at New York University. Her recent research includes the history of rhetoric and political thought, and the relationship of literature and ethics. She writes book reviews for the New York Times and other publications.

Biography

Wilkie Collins has long been overshadowed by his friend and collaborator Charles Dickens -- unfortunately for readers who have consequently not discovered one of literature's most compelling writers. His novels are ceremonious and none too brief; they are also irresistible. Take the opening lines of his 1852 story of marital deceit, Basil: "What am I now about to write? The history of little more than the events of one year, out of the twenty-four years of my life. Why do I undertake such an employment as this? Perhaps, because I think that my narrative may do good; because I hope that, one day, it may be put to some warning use." It's a typical Collins opening, one that draws the reader in with a tone that's personal, but carries formality and import.

With his long, frizzy black beard and wide, sloping forehead, Collins looked like a grandfatherly type, even in his 30s. But his thinking and lifestyle were unconventional, even a bit ahead of his time. His characters (particularly the women) have a Henry James–like predilection for bucking social mores, and he occasionally found his work under attack by morality-mongers. Collins was well aware of his books' potential to offend certain Victorian sensibilities, and there is evidence in some of his writings that he was prepared for it, if not welcoming of it. He writes in the preface to Armadale, his 1866 novel about a father's deathbed murder confession, "Estimated by the clap-trap morality of the present day, this may be a very daring book. Judged by the Christian morality which is of all time, it is only a book that is daring enough to speak the truth."

Collins began his career by writing his painter father's biography. He gained popularity when he began publishing stories and serialized novels in Dickens's publications, Household Words and All the Year Round. His best-known works are The Woman in White and The Moonstone, both of which -- along with Basil -- have been made into films.

Collins often alludes to fantastic, supernatural happenings in his stories; the events themselves are usually borne out by reasonable explanations. What remains are the electrifying effects one human being can have upon another, for better and for worse. His main characters are often described in terms such as "remarkable," "extraordinary," and "singular," lending their actions -- and thereby the story -- a special urgency. In one of his great successes, 1860's The Woman in White, Collins spins what is basically a magnificent con story into something almost ghostly: The fates of two look-alike women -- a beautiful, well-off woman and a poor insane-asylum escapee -- are intertwined and manipulated by two evil men. One of those is among the best fictional villains ever created, the kill-‘em-with-kindness Count Fosco. Fosco is emblematic of another Collins hallmark -- antagonists who manage to throw their victims off guard by some powerful charm of personality or appearance.

The Moonstone, published in 1868, is regarded by many to be the first English detective novel. Starring the unassuming Sergeant Cuff, it follows the trail of a sought-after yellow diamond from India that has fallen into the wrong hands. Like The Woman in White, the novel is told in multiple first person narratives that display Collins's gift for distinctive and often humorous voices. Whether it is servants, foreigners, or the wealthy, Collins is an equal-opportunity satirist who quietly but deftly pokes fun at human foibles even as he draws nuanced, memorable characters.

Though The Woman in White and The Moonstone are Collins's standouts, he had a productive, consistent career; the novels Armadale, No Name and Poor Miss Finch are worthwhile reads, and his short stories will particularly appeal to Edgar Allan Poe fans. Fortunately in the case of this underappreciated writer, there are plenty of titles to appreciate.

Good To Know

Collins studied law, and though he never practiced as a lawyer, his knowledge of the subject is evident in his fiction. He also apprenticed with a tea merchant in his pre-publication years.

He was addicted to laudanum, a form of opium that he used to treat his pain from rheumatic gout.

Collins never married, but he had a long-term live-in relationship with one woman, and a second romance that produced three children.

He is named after popular artist Sir David Wilkie; both his parents were painters who counted Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth among their friends.

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Wilkie Collins (full name)
      Wilkie Collins
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 8, 1824
    2. Place of Birth:
      London, England
    1. Date of Death:
      September 23, 1889
    2. Place of Death:
      London, England

Read an Excerpt



From Joy Connolly’s Introduction to The Moonstone

“King of inventors” was the title given to Wilkie Collins at the height of his powers, and popular opinion has since ranked The Moonstone 1868, rivaled only by The Woman in White 1859–1860, as Collins’s greatest masterpiece of invention. Mystery buffs know it as the first detective novel in English; fans of nineteenth-century literature prize its blend of sensational thrill, social criticism, and romance. Set by turns in the country comfort of Victorian squiredom, London townhouses, seashore lodgings, and in exotic landscape of India, the novel retains the page-turning suspensefulness that captivated its first generation of readers. “A very curious story,” wrote Charles Dickens, Collins’s close friend and mentor, “wild, and yet domestic—with excellent character in it, great mystery. . . . It is prepared with extraordinary care, and has every chance of being a hit” Letters of Charles Dickens, vol. 3, p. 660; see “For Further Reading”.

A hit it certainly was. The story first appeared in 1868 as a thirty-two part serial, beginning on January 1 and ending August 8, in Dickens’s weekly magazine All the Year Round. In the summer, as the final segments unveiled the solution to the mystery of the theft of the Verinder family’s Indian heirloom, avid readers packed the streets outside the magazine’s offices in the hope of securing copies, and bets were placed on the outcome of the plot. Sales records of the magazine, as well as the hardbound edition, and the popularity of the stage play that quickly followed, suggest that fans were not disappointed. An appreciative reviewer for the London Times declared Collins an unrivaled master in the business of sensational novel-writing. Geraldine Jewsbury, a well-respected critic and also a friend of Dickens, praised Collins’s achievement in stronger terms. Her admiration for his sympathetic portrayal of characters on the margins of society, especially women, the poor, and people of color, in part anticipates the novel’s appeal to the diverse readership of the present day. As for Dickens, whether from an honest change of heart or sheer jealousy The Moonstone outsold Great Expectations, he ultimately dismissed the book, complaining sourly in a private letter that its construction was “wearisome beyond endurance.”

Today, as then, Dickens is contradicted by a host of admiring readers. Unfolding in twelve separate voices in fourteen blocks of narrative during which the great yellow diamond of the title is stolen no less than four times, the novel’s construction is an extraordinary feat. The expertly timed switch from voice to voice a favorite novelistic device of Collins gives a democratic, upstairs-downstairs feel to the book. Collins’s sensitivity to social injustice, a lifelong theme of his work, makes itself felt in the contrasting perspectives of the intensely sympathetic, tormented Doctor Ezra Jennings, and the cheerfully self-absorbed Franklin Blake. Blake is the cousin and suitor of Rachel Verinder, heir to the stolen Moonstone, and it is he who collects the narratives more than two years after the diamond’s theft, “in the interests of truth, to be placed on record in writing”—a fictional echo of Collins’s own habitual protestations that his novels were based on real events and careful research.

Staking claim to authenticity is a staple of Collins’s professional specialty, the Victorian subgenre of sensational fiction—denounced by high-minded clergymen and critics as a corrupting influence on public morals, and embraced by the British middle class for its racy pleasures. Sensational fiction was part of the historic explosion in mass culture that emerged in its modern form in the Victorian era. Industrialization and urbanization, the double-edged achievements of mid-nineteenth-century Europe and America, were opening up unprecedented stretches of leisure time that could be whiled away in zoos, public gardens, Turkish baths, music halls, amateur sports, charity work, literary societies, lectures on everything from magnetism to the causes of poverty, and reading. Novels like Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret and Ellen Wood’s St. Martin’s Eve terrified and entertained readers with the tragic undersides of this modern society—especially the workhouse, brothel, and lunatic asylum—and with the hidden crimes of domestic life, from abuse and illegitimacy to suicide and murder.

More often than not, these tales are moralistic in the simplest sense, making the bad end badly and the good end well, and though the bad occasionally escape the reach of human law, the authors make it clear that they will not escape God’s. If they strike modern tastes as more exploitative than improving, it’s worth recalling that sensational tales helped make everyday human suffering a central concern of British popular culture. Unlike their modern counterparts in the televised melodrama or pulp novel, many of them back real and realizable goals of social reform. Collins’s The Woman in White is often said to lead the genre, with its chilling portrayal of the prison-like terrors of the madhouse and the desolation of unmarried mothers and illegitimate children. The Moonstone, though it owes much to sensational literature and was certainly marketed as such, is more difficult to classify. Readers tend to hail it instead as anticipating a new mode of writing, as T. S. Eliot did when he called The Moonstone “the first, longest, and greatest” of all English detective novels—a sentiment echoed by mystery writers Dorothy Sayers, P. D. James, and many others since.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 178 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(94)

4 Star

(38)

3 Star

(24)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(18)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 179 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2010

    My own personnel Moonstone is....THIS AWESOME BOOK!!!

    O My Gosh. You just love the narrators in the story. Especially sweet, sweet Betteredge!! At first in the mystery i started to hate Lady Verinder and thought that Sergeant Cuff was figuring out the mystery when BAM!!! Sergeant Cuff, the GREAT Sergeant Cuff, had it all wrong!!! It made you want to read on and on and on! But at the same time if you had to stop reading you sort of could-like even though it was soooo annoying as to find it all out you weren't always thinking about it once you had to stop reading it. And then only to think that the actual person who had stolen it was that certain person(totally can't say who!) was astounding!! I mean, they mentioned suspicions towards the person and i myself had had some too but not strong ones so it was it was still sort of hard to believe, and not only that but the person in which the stone was passed onto was also unexpected--and that person's true character was yet also surprising!Gosh, i LOVE THIS BOOK. And heck yeah!!! You better darn read it!! This book is my wonderful treasure---My Moonstone!!

    9 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2011

    Great Classic Mystery

    I love this book! This is a really great story told from several different viewpoints which makes it more interesting. Fans of Victorian literature will not be disappointed!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2006

    Collins hasn't let me down yet

    I started reading this story about a month and a half ago. For the first 40 pages, I wasn't sure if I could stay interested in the first narrator's tale. But as the story went on, I realized that everything he was saying was key to the mystery. I could hardly put it down even when my eyelids started to droop uncontrollably at night. I was relieved to get sick over the weekend and decided to devour the last half of the book on a Sunday afternoon. It was soooo good, that I even forsook my favorite TV program to finish it. I was BLOWN away by all the events. They got better and better and built up to an amazing finale. The only narrator who annoyed the socks off of me was Miss Clack. But then again, everything she told was key to the story. I was amazed at how each narrator had a voice of their own even though it was all written by ONE person. And when certain evidence was revealed, I gasped from shock as though I was seeing the whole thing with my own eyes. By far, the most incredible, captivating mystery I've ever read. I don't care what anyone else says. The change in narrators keeps you from getting bored with the writing style and I will recommend it to ANYONE and EVERYONE who truly appreciates British literature. Thanks to this book, I'm now going to pursue the rest of his works.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2012

    Well Written

    This was a very entertaining book and despite how long ago it was written seemed more modern at times than it actually is. The book is written in a series of letters that give each character's viewpoint of the story and how it progressed concerning the Moonstone. I only found one character's account a bit trying but I think that was the point as she was a most pompous and sanctimonious individual. Well written.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 7, 2011

    Not bad!

    I love novels from this era, but at points it was difficult to keep reading. I had to remind myself that Collins is the godfather of mystery crime novels and they have come a long way since this one! Knowing that about this story gives you great appreciation for his skill and inspiration this has given others to push the envelope a little farther.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 15, 2014

    Not a page turner....

    Moonstone is a long and very well written and presented detective mystery which failed to engage me very much: A well written tale about people who are all decidedly uninteresting.

    I could have put Moonstone down at any given point and not thought about it further. Collins's Moonstone lacks both the genius, flare and humor of Dickens and the warm, personal and utterly engaging style of Conan-Doyle's Holmes stories.

    Consider the three stars "Style Points".

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 9, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    The Genesis of Mystery

    The Moonstone is dated. That's not surprising; it was written over a hundred years ago. But this is the father of all mystery novels, so there's no better place to start than here. A classic, and one every mystery fan should read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 4, 2010

    Moonstone

    Reading this mystery was a pleasant surprise. The plot had all the undertones of England in transition. The characters were unforgetable. The B&N presentation was excellent.
    Thank you very much for offering this very enjoyable and quick reading novel.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Enticing

    I found Wilkie Collins quite by accident on the B&N online shop...well, what a wonderful find. Look for some of his other books.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2005

    Best of Wilkie

    A real page-turner. Better than The Woman in White. Lots of surprises to keep you from putting the book down. A classic!

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    The prophecy

    Sun and moon. Night and day. Ash will fall to the ground. And Jaguar will be dragged away. When they meet ,two will come along...the frosty air will chill the bone...the wolf will run away alone...the shade will leave the clan and life alone...a battle is bruing...and only three will be left...but one will come back from the dead...a gift but yet a curse that haunts the victim forever....darkness must be desovled...with the only thing that will keep it down...the love....and when the danger is thought to be long gone...the story had just begun...life and death are one again...though thought to be long forgotten...

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    Ash

    I know im a prophicised cat and a starclan chosen cat as well as darkjaguar but does that mean i will kill her?!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2014

    To host

    Yea and pigs fly. I dont believe that anyone and especially you can see into the ROLEPLAYING future and see what at least FIFTY RPERS are roleplaying at once. You sure as heII cant tell me anything about how im going to roleplay or who I roleplay from a dream. Prophetic dreams my a<_> ss. Get your head out of the da<_>mn clouds because if you are dreaming and seeing roleplay and thinking that you can come in with your 'dreams' and other bullsh<_>it and tell me how im supposed to roleplay, you can just shove it up your a<_>ss! Why do we listen to the dumba<_>sses who make prophecies? They include their friends and their cats to become 'special' in the clans that other cats(like me!) Are overshadowed and ignored and have no other choice but to leave because no one gives a da<_>mn abiut any other cat than the ones in the prophecy. So I will not go along with this, and I reccomend everyone else does the same ~ a very fu<_>cking old rper(since 2009)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 22, 2014

    To all about prophecy

    It has been moved to '11' res two. Fatespeaker's prophecy

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2014

    Oceanwind

    A she cat padded forward to the stone and with a cry of vengance she slamed aganst it and died

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2014

    DONT RECAMEND THOSE WHO UNDERSTAND UR MESSED UP

    I COULDNT FIND THE FIRST CHAPTER STUPID STUPID ! DONT EVEN TRY TO UNDERSTAND

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2014

    ANSWER ERGENT

    WHT IS THE BOOK ABOUT IT SOUNDS GOOD BUT IS IT REALLY THATS WHY YOU NEED TO ANSWER BEFORE I GET THE BOOK. PLEASE ANSWER BACK TO THIS PERSON - HALO LOVER

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 30, 2014

    MOONCLANS BIOS!

    ^^ **?$+@r (moonstar <)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2013

    Flamepelt

    Sandpelt are you here

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 24, 2013

    Sandpelt

    Smiles t the app. Ae youva med so?

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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