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The Moonstone
     

The Moonstone

3.8 81
by Wilkie Collins
 

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"The Moonstone is a page-turner," writes Carolyn Heilbrun. "It catches one up and unfolds its amazing story through the recountings of its several narrators, all of them enticing and singular." Wilkie Collins’s spellbinding tale of romance, theft, and murder inspired a hugely popular genre–the detective mystery. Hinging on the theft of

Overview

"The Moonstone is a page-turner," writes Carolyn Heilbrun. "It catches one up and unfolds its amazing story through the recountings of its several narrators, all of them enticing and singular." Wilkie Collins’s spellbinding tale of romance, theft, and murder inspired a hugely popular genre–the detective mystery. Hinging on the theft of an enormous diamond originally stolen from an Indian shrine, this riveting novel features the innovative Sergeant Cuff, the hilarious house steward Gabriel Betteridge, a lovesick housemaid, and a mysterious band of Indian jugglers.

This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the definitive 1871 edition.

Editorial Reviews

William Baker Northern Illinois University
"This superbly edited and richly documented edition of what T.S. Eliot described as 'the first and greatest of English detective novels' is the definitive and indispensible edition of The Moonstone."
Catherine Peters
"The Moonstone, one of Wilkie Collins's most popular and successful novels, has never been out of print since its first publication in 1868. Is another edition needed? The answer, in the case of Professor Farmer's scholarly and impeccably edited text, must be a resounding yes. Invaluable for his survey of past and present reactions to the story, and for his own insights, the edition also includes historical and background material and a well-chosen collection of relevant contemporary documents—always an important feature of Broadview Literary Texts. This Moonstone will surely prove another winner for Broadview's list."
The Wilkie Collins Society Journal
"Steve Farmer's Broadview edition will undoubtedly become the definitive edition of The Moonstone. [It] deserves a five star rating."
Adrian J. Pinnington Waseda University
"Here is a book which anyone with an interest in either Collins or Victorian literature in general will want to buy. The chief reason for this is Broadview's exceptionally generous editorial policy in its series of Literary Texts, and the very good use that Steve Farmer has made of this generosity. In this edition, for a reasonable price, we are given not only a beautifully printed and error-free annotated text of the novel, but also a full introduction and over 150 pages of appendices...This is the first time that Collins' dramatic adaptation of the novel has been reprinted and this text alone is well worth the price of the book."
From the Publisher
"The first and greatest of English detective novels."
—T. S. Eliot

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781556903489
Publisher:
Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date:
03/28/1989
Edition description:
Unabridged

Read an Excerpt

Collins: THE MOONSTONE

First Period the loss of the diamond (1848) The Events related by Gabriel Betteredge, House-Steward in the service of Julia, Lady Verinder

Chapter I

In the first part of Robinson Crusoe, at page one hundred and twenty-nine, you will find it thus written:

“Now I saw, though too late, the Folly of beginning a Work before we count the Cost, and before we judge rightly of our own Strength to go through with it.”

Only yesterday, I opened my Robinson Crusoe at that place. Only this morning (May twenty-first, Eighteen hundred and fifty), came my lady’s nephew, Mr. Franklin Blake, and held a short conversation with me, as follows:—

“Betteredge,” says Mr. Franklin, “I have been to the lawyer’s about some family matters; and, among other things, we have been talking of the loss of the Indian Diamond, in my aunt’s house in Yorkshire, two years since. Mr. Bruff thinks, as I think, that the whole story ought, in the interests of truth, to be placed on record in writing—and the sooner the better.”

Not perceiving his drift yet, and thinking it always desirable for the sake of peace and quietness to be on the lawyer’s side, I said I thought so too. Mr. Franklin went on.

“In this matter of the Diamond,” he said, “the characters of innocent people have suffered under suspicion already—as you know. The memories of innocent people may suffer, hereafter, for want of a record of the facts to which those who come after us can appeal. There can be no doubt that this strange family story of ours ought to betold. And I think, Betteredge, Mr. Bruff and I together have hit on the right way of telling it.”

Very satisfactory to both of them, no doubt. But I failed to see what I myself had to do with it, so far.

“We have certain events to relate,” Mr. Franklin proceeded; “and we have certain persons concerned in those events who are capable of relating them. Starting from these plain facts, the idea is that we should all write the story of the Moonstone in turn—as far as our own personal experience extends, and no farther. We must begin by showing how the Diamond first fell into the hands of my uncle Herncastle, when he was serving in India fifty years since. This prefatory narrative I have already got by me in the form of an old family paper, which relates the necessary particulars on the authority of an eye-witness. The next thing to do is to tell how the Diamond found its way into my aunt’s house in Yorkshire, two years ago, and how it came to be lost in little more than twelve hours afterwards. Nobody knows as much as you do, Betteredge, about what went on in the house at that time. So you must take the pen in hand, and start the story.”

In those terms I was informed of what my personal concern was with the matter of the Diamond. If you are curious to know what course I took under the circumstances, I beg to inform you that I did what you would probably have done in my place. I modestly declared myself to be quite unequal to the task imposed upon me—and I privately felt, all the time, that I was quite clever enough to perform it, if I only gave my own abilities a fair chance. Mr. Franklin, I imagine, must have seen my private sentiments in my face. He declined to believe in my modesty; and he insisted on giving my abilities a fair chance.

Two hours have passed since Mr. Franklin left me. As soon as his back was turned, I went to my writing-desk to start the story. There I have sat helpless (in spite of my abilities) ever since; seeing what Robinson Crusoe saw, as quoted above—namely, the folly of beginning a work before we count the cost, and before we judge rightly of our own strength to go through with it. Please to remember, I opened the book by accident, at that bit, only the day before I rashly undertook the business now in hand; and, allow me to ask—if that isn’t prophecy, what is?

I am not superstitious; I have read a heap of books in my time; I am a scholar in my own way. Though turned seventy, I possess an active memory, and legs to correspond. You are not to take it, if you please, as the saying of an ignorant man, when I express my opinion that such a book as Robinson Crusoe never was written, and never will be written again. I have tried that book for years—generally in combination with a pipe of tobacco—and I have found it my friend in need in all the necessities of this mortal life. When my spirits are bad—Robinson Crusoe. When I want advice—Robinson Crusoe. In past times, when my wife plagued me; in present times, when I have had a drop too much—Robinson Crusoe. I have worn out six stout Robinson Crusoes with hard work in my service. On my lady’s last birthday she gave me a seventh. I took a drop too much on the strength of it; and Robinson Crusoe put me right again. Price four shillings and sixpence, bound in blue, with a picture into the bargain.

Still, this don’t look much like starting the story of the Diamond—does it? I seem to be wandering off in search of Lord knows what, Lord knows where. We will take a new sheet of paper, if you please, and begin over again, with my best respects to you.

Copyright 2001 by Wilkie Collins

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“The very finest detective story ever written.”—Dorothy Sayers

Meet the Author

William Wilkie Collins was born in London in 1824, the eldest son of a successful painter, William Collins. He studied law and was admitted to the bar but never practiced his nominal profession, devoting his time to writing instead. His first published book was a biography of his father, his second a florid historical romance. The first hint of his later talents came with Basil (1852), a vivid tale of seduction, treachery, and revenge.

In 1851 Collins had met Charles Dickens, who would become his close friend and mentor. Collins was soon writing unsigned articles and stories for Dickens’s magazine, Household Words, and his novels were serialized in its pages. Collins brought out the boyish, adventurous side of Dickens’s character; the two novelists traveled to Italy, Switzerland, and France together, and their travels produced such lighthearted collaborations as “The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices.” They also shared a passion for the theater, and Collins’s melodramas, notably “The Frozen Deep,” were presented by Dickens’s private company, with Dickens and Collins in leading roles.

Collins’s first mystery novel was Hide and Seek (1853). His first popular success was The Woman in White (1860), followed by No Name (1862), Armadale (1866), and The Moonstone (1868), whose Sergeant Cuff became a prototype of the detective hero in English fiction. Collins’s concentration on the seamier side of life did not endear him to the critics of his day, but he was among the most popular of Victorian novelists. His meticulously plotted, often violent novels are now recognized as the direct ancestors of the modern mystery novel and thriller.

Collins’s private life was an open secret among his friends. He had two mistresses, one of whom bore him three children. His later years were marred by a long and painful eye disease. His novels, increasingly didactic, declined greatly in quality, but he continued to write by dictating to a secretary until 1886. He died in 1889.

Brief Biography

Date of Birth:
December 8, 1824
Date of Death:
September 23, 1889
Place of Birth:
London, England
Place of Death:
London, England
Education:
Studied law at Lincoln¿s Inn, London

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The Moonstone 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 81 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!
e_flaig More than 1 year ago
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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
More typos than you can imagine. Some clearly automated this job and never proofread the results. Fantastic book, though. Worth finding a readable edition.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was looking for a great summer read to "take me away" and make me think of something other than my complicated life this summer. After having enjoyed this kind of distraction while reading "The Woman in White" I went in search of another Collins book. This was the second of his books that I have read, and I have to say it was just what I needed! I love Collins' writing style. This book, as was The Woman in White, was narrated from several different perspectives, each written by different characters. I marvel at the author's ability to write each narrative with such different personalities...I began to believe that each was written by a different person! And each is written in so likeable a style that I dreaded the end, thinking, "surely, I wont like the next character's narrative as well as this one." Yet within a page or two I was once again drawn in and connecting to the new voice. This is a 415 page book, and on at least 4 occasions the conclusion seemed so near I couldn't fathom what the author was going to do with the rest of the pages. This was the result of each narrator telling the story from his or her perspective nearly to its conclusion, then handing the pen off to the next narrator, to start at his or her own beginning and do the same. The resulting story had me on the edge of my seat, confident I had figured out "who done it" and speed reading to see if I was right! I spent numerous nights reading past my bedtime, and allowed myself to read away more daytime hours than is respectable, all in the hopes of proving myself a cunning detective, able to outsmart the author! (An honest report would indicate that was right, sort of, and wrong, sort of, more than a few times over the course of reading this book!) And I am glad, now that I have finished it, that I had the foresight to grab a couple of his other works, which are now at the ready to fill the time void left by finishing this one! As to the quality if the ebook itself, I think nearly every page had at least one OCR error on it, but the errors were rather consistant, and it didn't take me long to figure out the correct text. Most of the time I just read right through them without hesitation. And since I didn't pay for this copy, I suppose I should't be too upset by a few errors. Dont hesitate to grab up this ebook and get to reading!
Anonymous 9 months ago
U comin?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sorry! Can not read thie gray version of this free book. The typos, etc and lack of punctuation suck the enjoyment of reading from this. Maybe, there is an edited version of this classic out there somewhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed reading this for a second time and was impressed by the plot development. Be sure you give yourself enough time to savor the experience and you will enjoy this classic.
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I liked this one.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I don't generally like different narrators, but this was done very well. Good read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. Wonderful classic.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not a quick read but when a days pay was a dollar that would be at ten an hour today 80 dollars minus irs and ss per book. read in good health a keeper buska
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a great mystery book- I am puzzled by the one star reviews- Most reviws are five star thank goodness
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is just great! If you like mystery and adventure (like me;) than this book is for you!