POOR MISS FINCH by Wilkie Collins

POOR MISS FINCH by Wilkie Collins

19 September 2010

The Moonstone (installments from August 1868), Blake, Cuff, Betteredge, Epilogue

Dear Serial Readers,

At long last, I am back to wrap up this serial reading! I enjoyed the variety of these last installments, from Franklin Blake's continuation, after Jennings' journal, of the story, and then the remarkable Sargeant Cuff's detective work, followed by Candy's letter about Jennings' death, and then--I know at least two of you serial readers were pleased--the return of Gabriel Betteredge as narrator.

I loved how he brings to a near-close the narrative with his ringing endorsement of the prophetic power of fiction (his beloved ROBINSON CRUSOE) as the new secular bible--he mentions his pleasure in pointing this out to Franklin Blake with the feeling that he's "converted" Blake to this new religion of English fiction! Can you imagine someone using this novel in a similar way?

Rather than the colonizing tendencies of Robinson C., this novel ends with a reversal of colonial conquest: the Epilogue describes the Moonstone's global journey as it is returned to its original home in the forehead of the statue of the Hindu god of the Moon from (as Murthwaite mentions) "the bosom of a [English] woman's dress!" But then he concludes with a few provocative questions that perhaps the Moonstone (and whatever else it signifies) may travel again: "Who can tell?"

According to the design of the novel, many can tell! I believe we have not encountered another novel in these screen-pages of "Serial Readers" that includes so many different tellers. I find this variety works well with the serial form.

Some lingering questions: the undisclosed secret of Ezra Jennings' sad life? and the thematic links between him, as outsider, with the wandering Murthwaite, who describes himself as "semi-savage" with hybrid origins, like Jennings. Interesting too that this novel both opens and closes in India, yet most of its settings are in England. I saw some interesting links to a novel that appeared some decades later, namely DRACULA--it also begins and ends in the "East" (Transylvania of Eastern Europe) and it also suggests the power of the colonized to regain and even extend their property and power.

I look forward to your comments on this novel!

My relative silence in these pages/screens suggests that I am compelled to take a recess from "Serial Readers"--the first hiatus in the twenty-eight months of the life of this reading log! Here is my proposal: we will reconvene in the second half of November with the linked stories of Elizabeth Gaskell's CRANFORD, first published in Dickens' HOUSEHOLD WORDS (from Dec. 1851-May 1853). We will begin with the first two installments, which include the first four chapters of most modern editions (through the chap titled "A Visit to an Old Bachelor"). I'll plan to post on these first installments the week of November 15th.

In the long meantime, please enjoy your serial readings and viewings, wherever they may take you! See you here in two months (and before, with all comments on the end of THE MOONSTONE).

Serially stalling,

08 September 2010

The Moonstone (installments from July 1868), Blake's narrative, Ezra Jennings' journal

Dear Serial Readers (and non-readers),

Many of us regular serialists have fallen behind due to the season! I am determined though to post on the final installment, which is short, for next time. I am also considering taking a brief recess from this serial reading, and would love to know if a month off would be disastrous? Or we could continue, but I'm afraid I'd still need help from other serial readers. Next up is one we've considered before: Gaskell's CRANFORD stories. Let me know what you think about how to proceed--either email me or comment here!

Meanwhile, thanks again to Kari for the following on the July 1868 installments of THE MOONSTONE. For next time, what remains.....

In looking up Betteredge’s story of the night of the birthday party/diamond disappearance, I was reminded how fond he is of Godfrey, and especially was that night. I’m a little surprised that Miss Clack isn’t fonder of him, because a lot of what Betteredge likes in Godfrey is what Miss Clack likes. But Miss Clack also no doubt notes Betteredge’s greater reliance on Robinson C. than on church.
I was struck, and tried to convey, how little Miss Clack focuses on love—certainly the least loving narrator of all.
I also wanted to go back briefly to last week’s reading and F Blake’s focus on his “manhood”—working it up to get the strength to go see Rachel, and losing it when she tells him she couldn’t sleep because she was thinking about him. Wow! Sexual tension! That may be the most open sexual tension I’ve seen in much of our Victorian reading (though I know it often lurks in cupboards and such), and at that moment, Franklin is “almost unmanned.”
I figured Ezra Jennings was trustworthy when F Blake liked him, even though Betteredge calmly says everyone dislikes him. It’s interesting that Ezra’s story is so similar to Franklin’s, in some ways.
I don’t see much about Ezra’s voice that marks him clearly distinctive from other narrators—did anyone else? And one last word: will the diamond be in the buzzard or the Cupid? Any significance to both winged creatures losing their flight?

01 September 2010

The Moonstone (installments from June 1868), Blake's narrative, chaps. 4-8

ReaderAnn returns this week with the following observations. I'm looking for one more lead poster for next week, then I hope to be back on the track for the very last installment of THE MOONSTONE! Thanks to all readers! --Serial Susan

***I'll comment without giving away any new developments in deference to
readers not caught up. Though I will say I have no new sense of who the
thief might be, and I¹m afraid I might end the book not knowing for sure.

In this installment I particularly enjoyed the Franklin Blake chapters, the
voices within voices, if you will. I don't recall other chapters like this
one, though there might have been. Here, through Blake, there is the happy
return, from my point of view, of Betteredge. And from Betteredge's hand,
there is the very, very, very long letter from Rosanna Spearman, whose voice
is entirely believable as the hard-life girl with the crooked shoulder,
hopelessly in love.

I must say I miss Cuff, and I paged back to the Table of Contents to see
when he returns. Sad to say, there will be no more Clack!***

For next time (July 1868): more Blake, chaps 9-10; Ezra Jennings' journal. Only one more installment after that, then.....??