Well...I finally finished this novel. It felt like it took forever, particularly because it got so scary that I needed a little break from time to timWell...I finally finished this novel. It felt like it took forever, particularly because it got so scary that I needed a little break from time to time.
All in all, I was pleased with it. I enjoyed the colorful parade of narrators that take turns moving the story forward and I think that Collins, in classic Victorian verbosity, can spin a decent yarn.
Apparently this is considered to be the world's first suspense novel and Wilkie Collins was a contemporary and friend of Dickens. Collins was also a drug addict with a bizarre private life (although I didn't sense that from the book).
The one thing that really irked me about this novel was the passivity of the female characters. From one perspective, it's an interesting study of women in 1800s. But for the first 300 pages or so, Laura and Marian fumble around stumbling into traps laid by two men: They put a letter in the post bag, their mail is swiped; they decide to visit another character, but someone has already been there and sent that character elsewhere. It takes Mr. Hartright to put things "right" (sorry, I couldn't resist). Since our paradigm is so fundamentally different, its' frustrating to watch these poor ladies get jerked around with no form of recourse.
Tough read, but a fascinating piece of Courtly Love literature, written in the late 14th century. As I said in my comment about Twain, this book reminTough read, but a fascinating piece of Courtly Love literature, written in the late 14th century. As I said in my comment about Twain, this book reminded me a lot of baseball and more specifically the book The Natural. I recommend reading them in tandem. Baseball and Jousting have many similarities...
Here is the blurb from Wikipedia:
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th century alliterative romance recorded in a single manuscript, which also contains three other pieces of an altogether more Christian orientation. The four poems are linked by their use of a North or West Midland dialect of Middle English. The core of the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is far older and embraces many elements central to Celtic mythology, the most prominent being the "severed head" theme, though it is also coloured by events of the time, chief amongst which was the Black Death. ...more