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Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

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Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby wisewoman » Sep 25, 2009 5:24 am

Wilkie Collins (1824–1889) was an English novelist who was a contemporary and friend of Charles Dickens. He wrote 27 novels, over 50 short stories, at least 15 plays, and over 100 pieces of non-fiction work. He was incredibly popular in his time, and we are still reading and enjoying his books today.

Collins' most famous novels are The Woman in White and The Moonstone. The Moonstone is considered the first real mystery novel, and basically initiated the genre. The Woman in White is a Victorian "thriller" with several big plot twists.

Collins is know for his over-the-top characters and wonderful stagey melodrama. He sometimes uses the supernatural in his stories as well, which makes his work Gothic. One thing that I find interesting about Collins is his ability to get into the head of a female character and write the story convincingly from her perspective. He's done this with The Woman in White, The Law and the Lady, and Poor Miss Finch, among others.

So have you read any books by Wilkie Collins? Which are your favorites? There are also some film/TV adaptations of his stories; have you seen any of them? If you've read anything by Charles Dickens, how would you compare Dickens' and Collins' work? Let's discuss! :)
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby Meltintalle » Sep 25, 2009 1:30 pm

I feel like rambling instead of discussing. Is that okay? ;)

I've read two Collins novels: The Moonstone and The Woman in White and enjoyed them both. Woman in White actually improved the second time I read it.

Since I'd read The Moonstone I didn't particularly enjoy Arthur Conan Doyle's Sign of Four... (Though I can't say how much of it was on my own initiative and how much was induced by the writer of the forward.)

The following quote reminds me of Jerome K. Jerome's Second Thoughts of an Idle Fellow, though the two authors were not exact contemporaries.

I constantly see old people flushed and excited by the prospect of some anticipated pleasure which altogether fails to ruffle the tranquillity of their serene grandchildren. Are we, I wonder, quite such genuine boys and girls now as our seniors were in their time? Has the great advance in education taken rather too long a stride; and are we in these modern days, just the least trifle in the world too well brought up?-The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby ForeverFan » Sep 26, 2009 9:02 am

Yay, a Wilkie Collins SF! :) Like Mel, I've only read his most popular two, and of them, I believe I enjoyed The Moonstone moreso. While The Woman in White was thrilling and gripping, at parts I found it too intense for me. I enjoyed the characters in both stories, though.

One of the things I actually didn't like about his writing style is how he jumped from narrator to narrator to tell the story. It was different- and thankfully well marked when there was a new narrator, but I still didn't like it. Oftentimes I'd get confused, thinking the current narrator was the same as the old one, and etc. I wouldn't want to read many books like that I'll admit.

But, for the most part, I enjoyed those two of his works very much. :)
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby Silvertongue » Sep 27, 2009 7:39 am

I've only ever read his two most popular, as well. I thought "The Moonstone" was alright, but I loved "The Woman in White"! One of those books that really grabbed my attention and held it! Thrilling! :D The movie, however, was a major disappointment! But then, a movie version hardly ever tops the book. ;)
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby wisewoman » Sep 27, 2009 11:27 am

I agree that the film version of The Woman in White was a disappointment. It just fell so flat after the fantastic experience I had reading the book. I remember how immersed I was in the characters' lives. Marian is a wonderful narrator and I think Collins did a great job writing a believable female narrator. It was a bit annoying to have her strength and courage attributed to her "manly" qualities, but oh well. One can't have everything :-P

I only saw the adaptation of The Moonstone once. It starred Keeley Hawes and Greg Wise. I seem to remember it was pretty good, but it still fell short of the book. Why do so many adaptations do that?

That's an interesting comparison between Jerome K. Jerome and Wilkie Collins, Mel. There is certainly a similarity in style and substance there. But Collins can go straight to macabre and Gothic, while Jerome prefers to stay light and goofy.

Have you guys read anything other than The Woman in White and The Moonstone? Collins wrote a ton of books. I've read No Name, Poor Miss Finch, The Haunted Hotel, and The Law and the Lady. I enjoyed each of them thoroughly! Poor Miss Finch was a standout though; what a fascinating treatment of blindness. Some of his characters in that one were positively Dickensian, too.
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby lysander » Sep 27, 2009 11:36 am

Dagnabit, why didn't I bring one of my Collins books to school with me? X( I haven't read any of his work, but just this past year I bought copies of The Moonstone and The Woman in White after hearing them praised to the skies by some of my fellow NarniaWebbers. (I have also, incidentally, seen the Wishbone adaptation of The Moonstone, though thankfully I've since forgotten the solution to the mystery.) I'm really excited to read them, especially that for once my library has copies of both recent BBC adaptations for me to watch after I'm done, as is my wont—The Woman in White starring Tara Fitzgerald and Justine Waddell, and The Moonstone starring Keely Hawes and Greg Wise.
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby 220chrisTian » Sep 27, 2009 1:52 pm

I haven't read any of Collins' work. :ymblushing: I saw the BBC adaptation of The Moonstone with Keeley Hawes and, like lysander, the Wishbone adaptation as well. I liked both enough to buy a copy of the book. I really want to read it. I thought the references to British colonial India in the background were interesting too. I've been studying this period in British history and literature a few years now. ;) Have any of you noticed allusions to British India in other works by Collins? I know it appears in Thackeray's Vanity Fair and Doyle's The Sign of Four. :-\
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby wisewoman » Sep 30, 2009 9:28 am

Hmm, I don't think I have noticed much about British colonial India in the other Collins books I've read, 220. Of course, it could just be the sampling I've had.

I've started Collin's Legacy of Cain in honor of this SF, and it's reminding me once more why I love Collins so much ;)). As I said in the Books thread, I think the main tension is going to boil down to the old debate of nature versus nurture.

A woman who is about to hang for the coldblooded, premeditated murder of her husband pleads with the minister who visits her to adopt her daughter. I don't like how she makes it a condition of her repentance, but let that be. The question is going to be how that daughter will turn out. Will she inherit her mother's murderous nature, or will she be more influenced by the godly example and love of the minister and his wife?

It will be fascinating to see what Collins concludes on the issue. I love the feeling I get at the beginning of his books, that I'm in for a wild ride :D
"It is God who gives happiness; for he is the true wealth of men's souls." — Augustine
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby Destined-To-Reign » Oct 08, 2009 10:00 am

I've read two Collins books as well-but wisewoman should be glad to hear that one of them wasn't one of his "two famous ones." ;))
I've read The Moonstone twice, and like it a good deal. And, after hearing ww's good recommendations for it, I read Poor Miss Finch on a car ride, almost exactly a year ago. I remember being very thrilled with it, and not wanting to put it down, even when it got dark. ;) Thank goodness for flashlights. . . :P I liked it a lot.

My family trusted me enough to watch the 1996 version of The Moonstone awhile ago, and we were pleased with it. I think it was pretty well done.
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Re: Special Feature: Wilkie Collins

Postby johobbit » Oct 08, 2009 7:56 pm

Please note that this SF will close Saturday evening.
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