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The Woman in White

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Wilkie Collins's The Woman in White, the first Victorian 'sensation novel' and one of the earliest mystery novels in English, weaves multiple narratives into a thrilling and suspenseful tale of mistaken identity and dark desires. This Penguin Classics edition is edited with notes and an introduction by Matthew Sweet.

The Woman in White famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter on a moonlit London road. Engaged as a drawing master to the beautiful Laura Fairlie, Walter is drawn into the sinister intrigues of Sir Percival Glyde and his 'charming' friend Count Fosco, the 'Napoleon of crime', who has a taste for white mice, vanilla bonbons and poison. Pursuing questions of identity and insanity along the paths and corridors of English country houses and the madhouse, The Woman in White is the first and most influential of the Victorian genre that combined Gothic horror with psychological realism.

Matthew Sweet's introduction explores the phenomenon of Victorian 'sensation' fiction, and discusses Wilkie Collins's biographical and societal influences. Included in this edition are appendices on theatrical adaptations of the novel and its serialisation history.

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 Woman in White, you might like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, also available in Penguin Classics.
Rezension
"Collins was a master craftsman, whom many modern mystery-mongers might imitate to their profit." -Dorothy L. Sayers
Portrait

Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) began his literary career writing articles and short stories for Dickens' periodicals. He published a biography of his father and a number of plays but his reputation rests on his novels. Collins found his true fictionalmetier in mystery, suspense and crime. He is best known for his novels in the emerging genres of Sensation and Detective fiction.
Matthew Sweet is a journalist and critic, and wrote his doctoral thesis on Wilkie Collins.

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  • Chapter One

    The Narrative of Walter Hartright, of Clemant's Inn, London

    IT WAS the last day of July. The long hot summer was drawing to a close; and we, the weary pilgrims of the London pavement, were beginning to think of the cloud-shadows on the corn-fields, and the autumn breezes on the sea-shore.

    For my own poor part, the fading summer left me out of health, out of spirits, and, if the truth must be told, out of money as well. During the past year, I had not managed my professional resources as carefully as usual; and my extravagance now limited me to the prospect of spending the autumn economically between my mother's cottage at Hampstead, and my own chambers in town.

    The evening, I remember, was still and cloudy; the London air was at its heaviest; the distant hum of the street-traffic was at its faintest; the small pulse of the life within me and the great heart of the city around me seemed to be sinking in unison, languidly and more languidly, with the sinking sun. I roused myself from the book which I was dreaming over rather than reading, and left my chambers to meet the cool night air in the suburbs. It was one of the two evenings in every week which I was accustomed to spend with my mother and my sister. So I turned my steps northward, in the direction of Hampstead.

    Events which I have yet to relate, make it necessary to mention in this place that my father had been dead some years at the period of which I am now writing; and that my sister Sarah, and I, were the sole survivors of a family of five children. My father was a drawing-master before me. His exertions had made him highly successful in his profession; and his affectionate anxiety to provide for the future of those who were dependent on his labours, had impelled him, from the time of his marriage, to devote to the insuring of his life a much larger portion of his income than most men consider it necessary to set aside for that purpose. Thanks to his admirable prudence and self-denial, my mother and sister were left, after his death, as independent of the world as they had been during his lifetime. I succeeded to his connexion, and had every reason to feel grateful for the prospect that awaited me at my starting in life.

    The quiet twilight was still trembling on the topmost ridges of the heath; and the view of London below me had sunk into a black gulf in the shadow of the cloudy night, when I stood before the gate of my mother's cottage. I had hardly rung the bell, before the house-door was opened violently; my worthy Italian friend, Professor Pesca, appeared in the servant's place; and darted out joyously to receive me, with a shrill foreign parody on an English cheer.

    On his own account, and, I must be allowed to add, on mine also, the Professor merits the honour of a formal introduction. Accident has made him the starting-point of the strange family story which it is the purpose of these pages to unfold.

    I had first become acquainted with my Italian friend by meeting him at certain great houses, where he taught his own language and I taught drawing. All I then knew of the history of his life was, that he had once held a situation in the University of Padua; that he had left Italy for political reasons (the nature of which he uniformly declined to mention to anyone); and that he had been for many years respectably established in London as a teacher of languages.

    Without being actually a dwarf-for he was perfectly well-proportioned from head to foot-Pesca was, I think, the smallest human being I ever saw, out of a show-room. Remarkable anywhere, by his personal appearance, he was still further distinguished among the rank and file of mankind, by the harmless eccentricity of his character. The ruling idea of his life appeared to be, that he was bound to show his gratitude to the country which had afforded him an asylum and a means of subsistence, by doing his utmost to turn himself into an



































































  • A Chronology of Wilkie Collin's Life vii Introduction xiii Further Reading xxxv A Note on the Text xxxviii







    The Woman in White







    Preface (1860) 3 (3)







    Preface to the Present Edition (1861) 6 (622) Appendix A: Theatrical Adaptations of The Woman in White 628 (17) Appendix B: Wilkie Collins on the Composition of the Woman in White 645 (6) Appendix C: The Serialization of the Woman in White in All the Year Round 651 (3) Notes 654

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Produktdetails

Einband Taschenbuch
Herausgeber Matthew Sweet
Seitenzahl 671
Erscheinungsdatum 27.02.2003
Sprache Englisch
ISBN 978-0-14-143961-7
Verlag Penguin Uk
Maße (L/B/H) 19,7/12,9/4 cm
Gewicht 506 g
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
Buch (Taschenbuch, Englisch)
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This will teach me...
von Regina Richter aus Dortmund am 21.12.2011
Bewertet: Einband: Taschenbuch

... to presume ever again an old story won't be able to capture my attention. Honestly, this one made me sit on the edge of my seat - oh the suspense!