Wie in september van vorig jaar “The invisible woman” (2013) van Ralph Fiennes op televisie heeft gezien, weet dat Charles Dickens en Wilkie Collins zeer bevriend waren met elkaar. 150 jaar geleden leidde dit tot een concreet gegeven: Charles Dickens stelde zijn magazine “All the year around” ter beschikking van zijn vriend om daarin diens briefroman “The moonstone” in afleveringen te laten verschijnen. “The moonstone” wordt over het algemeen beschouwd als de eerste Engelse detectiveroman, zij het dat – zoals dat bij Wilkie Collins gebruikelijk is – er ook wel exotisch-mysterieuze elementen in verweven zijn.

Therefore the book is regarded by some not only as the precursor of the modern suspense novel, but also as an exponent of the mystery novel. Dorothy L.Sayers praised The Moonstone as “probably the very finest detective story ever written”. In “The Victorian Age in Literature,” G.K.Chesterton calls it “probably the best detective tale in the world.”
T.S.Eliot called it “the first, the longest, and the best of modern English detective novels in a genre invented by Collins and not by Poe”, although Edgar Allan Poe’s short story mysteries The Murders in the Rue Morgue (1841), The Mystery of Marie Rogêt (1842) and The Purloined Letter (1845) were published before The Moonstone. Also, a number of critics suggest that Charles Felix’s (pseudonym for Charles Warren Adams) lesser known Notting Hill Mystery (1862–63) preceded The Moonstone by a number of years and first used techniques that came to define the genre.
The plot also shows some parallels with The Hermitage (1839), an earlier murder mystery story by English novelist Sarah Burney: for example, the return of a childhood companion, the sexual symbolism of defloration implied in the crime, and almost catatonic reactions of the heroine to it. But The Moonstone introduces a number of the elements that became classic attributes of the twentieth-century detective story in novel form, as opposed to Poe’s short story form. These include:
An English country house robbery
An “inside job”
Red herrings
A celebrated, skilled, but not professional investigator
A bungling local constabulary
Detective enquiries
A large number of false suspects
The “least likely suspect”
A reconstruction of the crime
A final twist in the plot
The Moonstone represents Collins’s only complete reprisal of the popular “multi-narration” method that he had previously utilised to great effect in The Woman in White.
One of the features that made The Moonstone such a success was the sensationalist depiction of opium addiction. Collins was writing from personal experience, unbeknownst to his readers. In his later years, Collins grew severely addicted to laudanum and, as a result, suffered from paranoid delusions, the most notable being his conviction that he was constantly accompanied by a doppelganger whom he dubbed “Ghost Wilkie”.
It was Collins’s last great success, coming at the end of an extraordinarily productive period which saw four successive novels become best-sellers. After The Moonstone, he wrote novels containing more overt social commentary which did not achieve the same audience. A heavily fictionalised account of Collins’ life while writing The Moonstone forms much of the plot of Dan Simmons’ 2009 novel Drood (with of course a reference to Dickens’ own attempt at a detective novel: Edwin Drood). [Wikipedia]
Daarna verschenen:
1869 Les fêtes galantes (Paul Verlaine)
Het jongerenverbond (Henrik Ibsen)
1870 An eye for an eye (Anthony Trollope)
1872 A Dog of Flanders (Louise De La Ramée alias Ouida)
1873 Keizer en Galileeër (Henrik Ibsen)
Middlemarch (George Eliot)
1874 La tentation de Saint Antoine (Gustave Flaubert)
1875 The way we live now (Anthony Trollope)
1876 De zachtmoedige (Fjodor Dostojevski)
1877 Anna Karenina (Lev Tolstoj)
Hérodias (Gustave Flaubert)
Steunpilaren van de maatschappij (Henrik Ibsen)
Les trois contes (Gustave Flaubert)
1878 The suicide club (Robert Louis Stevenson)
1879 Een poppenhuis (Henrik Ibsen)
Im fernen Westen (eerste Winnetou-boek van Karl May)
1880 Ben-Hur (Lewis Wallace)
Bouvard et Pécuchet (Gustave Flaubert)
Le roman expérimental (Emile Zola)
Nana (Emile Zola)
Washington square (Henry James)
1882 Een vijand van het volk (Henrik Ibsen)
Spoken (Henrik Ibsen)
1884 A rebours (Huysmans)
De wilde eend (Henrik Ibsen)
Sapho (Alphonse Daudet)
(Schetsen van) Jan Blokker (Flor Heuvelmans)
1885 Essai de psychologie contemporaine (Bourzet)
Germinal (Emile Zola)
King Solomon’s Mines (Rider Haggard)
1886 Rosmersholm (Henrik Ibsen)

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