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Basil

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  1,275 Ratings  ·  64 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 m ...more
Paperback, Oxford World's Classics, 282 pages
Published September 1st 2008 by Oxford University Press (first published 1852)
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Issicratea
Dec 25, 2014 Issicratea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
I am now about to relate the story of an error, innocent in its beginning, guilty in its progress, fatal in its results …

All hail serendipity! I did not know of the existence of Wilkie Collins’s novel Basil until a few days ago, when I finished reading William Godwin’s Caleb Williams, and saw Collins’s novel cited as analogous to Godwin’s in respect of its subject matter. That prompted me to follow it up, and I’m very glad I did.

The only works by Wilkie Collins I had read before are his great no
...more
Karla
After a couple dull & disappointing tales by Wilkie, this melodramatic & racy little romp restored my faith in the old boy.

Even for a second novel, it displays a lot of the traits one expects from Collins in his later, more mature works. There's social commentary aplenty, a shady female, and sexual shenanigans.

The title character's a nice guy who makes all the wrong decisions involving all the wrong people. One could argue he's a bit of a dullard. And you'd be right. But he's a likable,
...more
Laura
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

Basil (1852) is the second novel written by British author Wilkie Collins, after Antonina.

3* The Woman in White
4* The Moonstone
4* Who Killed Zebedee?
4* The Dead Alive
4* Mrs. Zant and the Ghost
3* A Fair Penitent
4* The Frozen Deep
4* The Haunted Hotel
4* The Law and the Lady
4* No Name
3* My Lady's Money
3* Mad Monkton And Other Stories
4* Armadale
3* The Traveller's Story of a Terribly Strange Bed
3* Stories by English Authors; England
3* Mr. Lismore And The Wi
...more
El
All great relationships begin with a little old-fashioned stalking!

The title character, Basil, is son of a man who treasures the family name above anything else. Basil sees dark beauty Margaret on a bus (actually an omnibus, but to modernize it for the comprehension of others we're going to stick with 'bus' here), realizes he must have her, stalks her a bit, and finds out she's the daughter of a linen-draper. That's like the bottom of the barrel according to Basil's father. He would never approv
...more
Peter
Aug 08, 2015 Peter rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Basil is Wilkie Collins's second novel. In Basil we see the emergence of the style and techniques that would lead to the future success and strength of Collins's sensation novels. While Basil offers only staggered glimpses of a major Victorian novelist, it is still a novel well-worth reading. In fact, if you enjoy Collins as a writer Basil is a must read in order to see the genesis of his later work.

Tropes such as class conflict, characters' mysterious pasts, marital infidelity, ominous storms a
...more
Katie
Oct 19, 2012 Katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
"I am now about to relate the story of an error, innocent in its beginning, guilty in its progress, fatal in its results . . ."

Opening my fourth year course in ‘Madness and Sexuality in Victorian Literature’, the first book I encountered was Wilkie Collins’ Basil. Though better known for his classic works The Moonstone and The Woman in White, his 1852 novel Basil was in fact the breeding ground for his development of what came to be known as ‘the sensation novel’. Contemporary reviews were appal
...more
Amy
Oct 20, 2008 Amy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books that I have ever read. I couldn't stop reading it. Everytime you thought that the story was winding down, something CRAZY would happen. I am so in love with the author, Wilkie Collins. He is seriously my ideal author. Read this book...now.
Kailey (BooksforMKs)
I do adore Wilkie Collins' writing, but this sad Gothic tale was seriously depressing from start to finish. In this story, the main character Basil sees a young woman in the street, and instantly falls in love with her. He meets her briefly, and learns that her name is Margaret. Later he approaches her father, and the two are married within a couple of weeks with the proviso that Margaret remain living with her family until her 18th birthday. So Basil is married in name only and can only visit M ...more
Miranda
Feb 01, 2017 Miranda rated it it was ok
Shelves: own
If Basil would've just chilled the fuck out and not demanded a secret marriage with the first girl he saw who made his dick hard, he wouldn't have had any problems (nor a story, I guess). Basil is so naive and entitled throughout the entire story that it was hard for me to have any sympathy for him. Some weird incestual undertones in his love for his sister also were uncomfortable, in addition to the way other female characters were characterized. The only redeeming thing about this book is Ralp ...more
Pamela
Mar 08, 2013 Pamela rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Just about anyone...Anyone who likes a good read!
Hello. My name is Pam and I'm a Collins-holic. Books like this are the reason. Just when you think you've got it sussed and can sit back and relax....BAM! Collins hits you with another twist. And the topics this book deals with are about as non-trivial as you can get: The class system, women's rights (or lack of them), domestic violence/abuse, bribery, blackmail, revenge, and of course, love at first sight (or as we call it today--stalking).
India Stoker
Dec 07, 2014 India Stoker rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Muy bien escrito, con una historia intrigante, pero con un protagonista con tan poca sangre, que me acaba poniendo de los nervios.
SiSApis
Nov 10, 2016 SiSApis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who enjoys 19th Century English lit and doesn't mind a bit of strained credulity
Shelves: fiction, classics
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Penelope
After reading the amazing novel No name by Wilkie Collins, I decided that I wanted to read more books by him. I decided to read Basil because the synopsis was pretty attractive.

Basil only has 440 pages. At first I thought that I was going to have to spend at least two weeks to read this book, but surprisingly I read it in a week. I don’t like to compare books because when you read a book by an author that you’ve loved, you expect to do the same with the rest of his books. Basil was a really
...more
Dana Loo
Sep 29, 2016 Dana Loo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, classici
Un Collins insolito in questo romanzo che è uno dei primi che il grande scrittore vittoriano produsse. Narrato in prima persona e in forma di diario con una scrittura peraltro eccellente, è un romanzo di formazione che racconta le amare vicissitudini di un giovane uomo, forse fin troppo ingenuo e istintivo per il suo stesso bene, che s'innamora a prima vista di una bella ragazza di estrazione sociale inferiore alla sua. Il racconto, forse un po' lento all'inizio, diventa sempre più avvincente ma ...more
Chris
Jul 30, 2011 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is Collins' first published novel, and it shows. The first half was paced too slowly like the average Victorian author, but the unpredictability and suspense of the second half show more of what Collins' later and better written novels are like. Read The Moonstone or The Woman in White before trying this one.
Julie
Apr 25, 2008 Julie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I liked this book. It was a little creepy, and I am sure in its time, it was a "thriller" and sort of shocking. The evil character in it drove me nuts-- he has lots of control over everyone....heh heh heh....It is a lesson about jumping into something, like "love" or infatuation, too soon and suffering the consequences...
Doreen Petersen
Dec 19, 2015 Doreen Petersen rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery
It was just okay which is surprising since I like Wilkie Collins books.
Penelope
Mar 19, 2017 Penelope rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wilkie-collins
I rated it four stars but not a favourite book. If I hadn't read other Wilkie Collins I think I might not have got passed page 70. Very slow start. Basil annoyed me from the start. A very stupid young man . Difficult to have sympathy for him really.He could be forgiven for having love at first sight but oh....the ridiculous way he pursued his love was plain daft!! He was like a bull to the slaughter!! Good read eventually though.
Alex
Dec 24, 2016 Alex rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a very, very interesting read! Not on the scale of his longer works but very intriguing psychological study! Interesting to see what Collins cannot actually say in the text so reader has to fill in blanks!
Kimberly
Mar 15, 2017 Kimberly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classic, thriller, romance
Poor Basil! A chance encounter changes his whole life, and not for the better. If only he stopped to think about what he was doing, or got some advice from family or friends, he might have avoided his sufferings. But, alas, he was young and wanted what he wanted. Wilkie Collins did an awesome job in describing what this young man went through. Amazing that this was only his second novel. :) I definitely recommend this author to one and all. :)
Luana
Sep 11, 2015 Luana rated it liked it
3,5

"Mi accingo a raccontare la storia di un errore, innocente all'inizio, colpevole nella sua evoluzione, fatale nei risultati, [...]"

In altre parole...Wilkie Collins e il tema dell'adulterio.

Wilkie Collins è ormai diventato, almeno per quello mi riguarda, una garanzia di qualità. Anche se siamo abbastanza lontani dalla grandezza di "The Woman in White", "Basil" non delude: è sempre un piacere leggere le trame messe in piedi dal buon Wilkie e, anche in questo caso, bastano poche pagine per esser
...more
Helen
May 19, 2010 Helen rated it liked it
Our narrator, the Basil of the title, is the son of a rich gentleman who is proud of his family's ancient background and despises anyone of a lower social standing. When Basil meets Margaret Sherwin on a London omnibus he falls in love at first sight and becomes determined to marry her. Unfortunately Margaret is the daughter of a linen-draper, the class of person Basil's father disapproves of most of all, so he decides not to tell his family about her just yet.

Mr Sherwin agrees to Basil marrying
...more
Zoe Mize
Feb 16, 2017 Zoe Mize rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It was certainly fascinating to read as an example of sexuality in Victorian literature, but on its own it read like a soap opera (which is to be expected from a sensationalist novel, but still).
D. Eric
Dec 06, 2010 D. Eric rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Betsy
Jul 05, 2016 Betsy rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This should have been a quick read, but unlike "poor miss finch," which is laugh out loud funny at times to balance the melodrama, Basil the hero and Basil the book are pathetic and annoying.
The pace picks up (at last) when black sheep brother Ralph bursts on the scene in the last 1/3 of the book. Here is Ralph going toe to toe with the despicable Mr. Sherwin: "When the whole collection of British oaths is exhausted, I can swear fluently in five foreign languages: I have always made it a princi
...more
Sasha
Jul 04, 2010 Sasha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian, 2011
Basil is the younger son of an old, aristocratic English family. His father's family pride is the paramount consideration in his life. Basil falls in love at first sight with the exotic looking daughter of a successful draper and this premise sets the scene for an engaging story.

Unlike Woman in White and The Moonstone, both of which employ different narrators throughout the book, Basil is written from the perspective of one man. The novel also differs from Collin's more famous works in that the
...more
Pattyrflg
Basil is a young man who falls in love with the wrong woman. He comes from a family with a famous pedigree traced back through the centuries. Elizabeth Sherwin is the daughter of a tradesman. Basil makes a strange arrangement with Elizabeth's father in order to marry her. They can be married if Basil will let her leave him at the church and have no marriage relations with her for 1 year. He agrees in the hopes that he can get the nerve to tell his father about the marriage to a woman who is far ...more
Ad Blankestijn
Basil, the second son from an ancient aristocratic family, falls in love with a young woman he meets on a London omnibus, Margaret, the daughter of a linen draper. With the connivance of her parents he concludes a secret marriage with her that has to remain unconsummated for one year as she is only seventeen. He of course also keeps her hidden from his family. As he visits her every evening, he starts noticing some peculiarities in her behavior and also that there is another man in the backgroun ...more
My Inner Shelf
Si l’histoire de Basil est certes moins tarabiscotée que celles des précédents romans de Wilkie Collins déjà traités sur ce blog, l’intérêt n’est pas moindre. Plus court, plus simple dans son intrigue, mais tout aussi délectable. On y retrouve tous les ingrédients nécessaires à une lecture échevelée, passionnée, et haletante ! Personnages toujours très approfondis, description des mœurs d’une époque, des différentes classes sociales, et j’en passe. L’histoire est donc un peu moins tordue, mais c ...more
Jen
Sep 06, 2014 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish this book. Wilkie Collins' novels The Law and the Lady, Armadale, and The Woman in White are some of my favorite books, but I couldn't bring myself to read anymore of Basil. Now I understand why Dickens didn't want to publish it in Household Words. I disliked the main character and his gloomy self absorbed thoughts, the writing was very formulaic as far as the sister was "good" and pale and blonde and white and the woman he falls in love with is darker with dark hair and holds a ...more
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A close friend of Charles Dickens' from their meeting in March 1851 until Dickens' death in June 1870, William "Wilkie" Collins was one of the best known, best loved, and, for a time, best paid of Victorian fiction writers. But after his death, his reputation declined as Dickens' bloomed. Now, Collins is being given more critical and popular attention than he has received for fifty years. Most of ...more
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“The mountain-path of Action is no longer a path for me; my future hope pauses with my present happiness in the shadowed valley of Repose.” 2 likes
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