Basil

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Oxford University Press, Aug 10, 2008 - Fiction - 400 pages
4 Reviews
In Basil's secret and unconsummated marriage to Margaret Sherwin, and the consequent horrors of betrayal, insanity, and death, Collins reveals the bustling, commercial London of the first half of the nineteenth century. Collins' treatment of adultery shocked contemporary reviewers, and even today the passionate and lurid atmosphere he created has the power to disturb the modern reader.

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User Review  - souloftherose - LibraryThing

Although Basil is far from being one of Collins' best novels, I enjoyed it a lot; partly because I enjoyed thinking about this as an early example of Collins' writing and an early example of a ... Read full review

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User Review  - startingover - LibraryThing

I'm a big fan of Wilkie Collins. Basil is Collins' second published novel, and might be disappointing if you've only read The Woman in White and/or The Moonstone, although the seeds of the sensation ... Read full review

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About the author (2008)

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 opensecret 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.

Agnes Cardinal is Lecturer in Comparative Literary Studies at the University of Kent at Canterbury
Dorothy Goldman is an independent writer and researcher
Judith Hattaway is Lecturer at the University of Kent at Canterbury

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