The Moonstone, a priceless yellow diamond, is looted from an Indian temple and maliciously bequeathed to Rachel Verinder. On her eighteenth birthday her friend and suitor, Franklin Blake, brings the gift to her. That very night, it is stolen again. No one is above suspicion as the idiosyncratic Sergeant Cuff and Franklin piece together a puzzling series of events as mystifying as an opium dream and as deceptive as the nearby Shivering Sand.
The Moonstone is one of the first true works of detective fiction, in which Wilkie Collins established the groundwork for the genre itself. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with an introduction by Sandra Kemp. The Moonstone, a priceless yellow diamond, is looted from an Indian temple and maliciously bequeathed to Rachel Verinder. On her eighteenth birthday, her friend and suitor Franklin Blake brings the gift to her. That very night, it is stolen again. No one is above suspicion, as the idiosyncratic Sergeant Cuff and the Franklin piece together a puzzling series of events as mystifying as an opium dream and as deceptive as the nearby Shivering Sand. The intricate plot and modern technique of multiple narrators made Wilkie Collins's 1868 work a huge success in the Victorian sensation genre. With a reconstruction of the crime, red herrings and a 'locked-room' puzzle, The Moonstone was also a major precursor of the modern mystery novel. In her introduction Sandra Kemp explores The Moonstone's the detective elements of Collins's writing, and reveals how Collins's sensibilities were untypical of his era. Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) was born in London in 1824, the eldest son of the landscape painter William Collins. In 1846 he was entered to read for the bar at Lincoln's Inn, where he gained the knowledge that was to give him much of the material for his writing. From the early 1850s he was a friend of Charles Dickens, who produced and acted in two melodramas written by Collins, The Lighthouse and The Frozen Deep. Of his novels, Collins is best remembered for The Woman in White (1859), No Name (1862), Armadale (1866) and The Moonstone (1868). If you enjoyed The Moonstone you might like Collins's The Woman in White, also available in Penguin Classics. 'Probably the very finest detective story ever written' Dorothy L. Sayers 'The first, the longest and the best of modern modern English detective novels' T.S. Eliot
Wilkie (William) Collins (1824-89) was a hugely successful and popular crime, mystery and suspense writer. He wrote the first full-length detective novels in English and set a mould for the genre as shown in THE MOONSTONE and 'The Woman in White'. Sandra Kemp has edited Virginia Woolf's short stories and Rudyard Kipling's 'Debits and Credits' for Penguin
"The first and greatest of English detective novels." --T. S. Eliot
An emormous diamond is bequeathed to Miss Rachel Verinder by her uncle Colonel John Herncastle who has recently expired out in the colonies. In anticipation of Miss Verinders eighteenth birthday , the Moonstone is spirited out of India and brought back to England whereupon it goes missing. Stolen in the first place from a Hindu shrine, the ownership and indeed the whereabouts of the sacred diamond is the question around which the plot revolves. Credited with being the first example of detective fiction the tale is told as a series of eyewitness accounts which was partly necessitated by it being published by instalment in All Year Round in 1868. (Kirkus UK)
"The first and greatest of English detective novels." --T. S. Eliot
INTRODUCTION "To Mr. Collins belongs the credit of having introduced into fiction those most mysterious of mysteries, the mysteries which are at our own doors." --Henry James Illegitimacy, mistaken identity, insanity, inheritance, drugs, adultery, crimes of passion -- all of these lurid features of Victorian life were Wilkie Collins''s stock in trade. In The Moonstone he single-handedly developed most elements of the classic detective story. With The Woman in White Collins created the archetypal sensation novel, spawning generations of imitators. But perhaps his greatest genius was his capacity to reveal the exotic amidst the commonplace, the "mysteries which are at our own doors." Collins composed his masterworks during one of the most tumultuous periods in the history of English literature. England''s cities and industries were booming, poverty and crime filled the news, melodrama ruled the theaters, and newfound wealth made class barriers increasingly permeable. Dickens had just started his periodical All the Year Round , which helped to bring literature to a mass audience and blur the boundaries between highbrow and middlebrow culture. The new audience demanded a new type of novel, a novel as compelling as the scandalous headlines it competed with at the newsstands, able to keep readers in suspense from month to month and eager to buy the next issue. Dickens launched the magazine, and the golden decade of the serial novel, with A Tale of Two Cities in the spring of 1860, and Collins followed with The Woman in White in the fall. The plot of Collins''s novel had its origins in a French crime in which a Marquise was drugged and held prisoner under a false name so that her brother could inherit her estate. The midnight apparition of the title character -- which Dickens called one of the two most dramatic scenes in literature -- had its origin much closer to home. While walking a friend home one night Collins had heard a piercing scream from a nearby villa, then saw dashing from the house "the figure of a young and very beautiful young woman dressed in flowing white robes that shone in the moonlight. She seemed to float rather than to run . . . in an attitude of supplication and terror." Caroline Graves, recently widowed with an infant daughter, said she had been held captive at the house for several months "under threats and mesmeric influence." The details of what followed are unknown, but before long she and Collins had made a home together and she had adopted a story about her origins more suited to Collins''s social position. Her father had been transformed from a carpenter to a "gentleman" and her former husband from an accountant''s clerk to a captain in the army. It has been argued that the two faces of Caroline -- the newly respectable lady and the abused women of questionable background -- are reflected in the look-alike characters in The Woman in White , Laura Fairlie and Anne Catherick. Certainly the tension between appearance and reality that was central to the mystery had a powerful salience for Collins at the time, defying as he did the social expectations that he marry Caroline but also refusing to keep their relationship secret. The Woman in White was an enormous success, prompting long lines at the publisher''s offices and even inspiring a popular song, the "Woman in White Waltz." Collins earned a large advance for his next novel, securing his financial independence from his mother (who was the model for Hartright''s impulsive, childlike mother in the book, just as Hartright was modeled in part on Collins''s anxious, conventional brother). Readers were especially intrigued by the character of Marian Halcombe, whose charm, wit, independence, and ugliness probably have their roots in Collins''s friendship with George Eliot. Throughout his work Collins created strong female characters that defy Victorian mores and gender roles, assertive women with a calculating streak. Imitators took the notion to an extreme, creating anti-heroines that resorted to murder and bigamy to achieve their wicked ends. By the time Collins started writing The Moonstone in 1867, the outcry over "the fair-haired demon of modern fiction" had grown so shrill and the clich
Part Three of the Prologue The storming of Seringapatam (1799) Extracted from a family paper III So, as told in our camp, ran the fanciful story of the Moonstone. It made no serious impression on any of us except my cousin--whose love of the marvellous induced him to believe it. On the night before the assault on Seringapatam, he was absurdly angry with me, and with others, for treating the whole thing as a fable. A foolish wrangle followed; and Herncastle''s unlucky temper got the better of him. He declared, in his boastful way, that we should see the Diamond on his finger, if the English army took Seringapatam. The sally was saluted by a roar of laughter, and there, as we all thought that night, the thing ended. Let me now take you on to the day of the assault. My cousin and I were separated at the outset. I never saw him when we forded the river; when we planted the English flag in the first breach; when we crossed the ditch beyond; and, fighting every inch of our way, entered the town. It was only at dusk, when the place was ours, and after General Baird himself had found the dead body of Tippoo under a heap of the slain, that Herncastle and I met. We were each attached to a party sent out by the general''s orders to prevent the plunder and confusion which followed our conquest. The camp-followers committed deplorable excesses; and, worse still, the soldiers found their way, by an unguarded door, into the treasury of the Palace, and loaded themselves with gold and jewels. It was in the court outside the treasury that my cousin and I met, to enforce the laws of discipline on our own soldiers. Herncastle''s fiery temper had been, as I could plainly see, exasperated to a kind of frenzy by the terrible slaughter through which we had passed. He was very unfit, in my opinion, to perform the duty that had been entrusted to him. There was riot and confusion enough in the treasury, but no violence that I saw. The men (if I may use such an expression) disgraced themselves good-humouredly. All sorts of rough jests and catchwords were bandied about among them; and the story of the Diamond turned up again unexpectedly, in the form of a mischievous joke. 'Who''s got the Moonstone?'' was the rallying cry which perpetually caused the plundering, as soon as it was stopped in one place, to break out in another. While I was still vainly trying to establish order, I heard a frightful yelling on the other side of the courtyard, and at once ran towards the cries, in dread of finding some new outbreak of the pillage in that direction. I got to an open door, and saw the bodies of two Indians (by their dress, as I guessed, officers of the palace) lying across the entrance, dead. A cry inside hurried me into a room, which appeared to serve as an armoury. A third Indian, mortally wounded, was sinking at the feet of a man whose back was towards me. The man turned at the instant when I came in, and I saw John Herncastle, with a torch in one hand, and a dagger dripping with blood in the other. A stone, set like a pommel, in the end of the dagger''s handle, flashed in the torchlight, as he turned on me, like a gleam of fire. The dying Indian sank to his knees, pointed to the dagger in Herncastle''s hand, and said, in his native language:--'The Moonstone will have its vengeance yet on you and yours!'' He spoke those words, and fell dead on the floor. Before I could stir in the matter, the men who had followed me across the courtyard crowded in. My cousin rushed to meet them, like a madman. 'Clear the room!'' he shouted to me, 'and set a guard on the door!'' The men fell back as he threw himself on them with his torch and his dagger. I put two sentinels of my own company, on whom I could rely, to keep the door. Through the remainder of the night, I saw no more of my cousin. Early in the morning, the plunder still going on, General Baird announced publicly by beat of drum, that any thief detected in the fact, be he whom he might, should be hung. The provost-marshal was in attendance, to prove that the General was in earnest; and in the throng that followed the proclamation, Herncastle and I met again. He held out his hand, as usual, and said, 'Good morning.'' I waited before I gave him my hand in return. 'Tell me first,'' I said, 'how the Indian in the armoury met his death, and what those last words meant, when he pointed to the dagger in your hand.'' ''The Indian met his death, as I suppose, by a mortal wound,'' said Herncastle. 'What his last words meant I know no more than you do.'' I looked at him narrowly. His frenzy of the previous day had all calmed down. I determined to give him another chance. ''Is that all you have to tell me?'' I asked. He answered, 'That is all.'' I turned my back on him; and we have not spoken since.
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