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Old 01-19-2014, 06:27 PM   #1
AlexBell
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Collins, Wilkie: Armadale (illustrated) v1 20 January 2014

Wilkie Collins lived (mostly in London) from 1824 to 1889, a period in which 'the inevitable self-assertion of wealth, so amiably deplored by the prosperous and the rich; [was] so bitterly familiar to the unfortunate and the poor.'

He was short and plump, a traveller, bon vivant, journalist, satirist, essayist, novelist, dramatist, and social activist despite his severe suffering from recurrent gout and arthritis. He became addicted to laudanum, and several of his characters praise it.

One of his characters says '...isn't it the original intention or purpose, ... of a work of fiction, to set out distinctly by telling a story? - what I want is something that seizes hold of my interest, ... something that keeps me reading, reading, reading, in a breathless state to find out the end.'

Armadale was serialised for eighteen months from November 1864, and published in May 1866 - six years after The Woman in White and two years before The Moonstone - at a time when 'virtue is not always its own reward; and the way that leads to reformation is remarkably ill-lit for so respectable a thoroughfare.'

The publisher paid Collins a very large amount (for the time) for the book rights but barely recouped his costs, perhaps because of the many gently satirical comments about women and lawyers, or the occasional scathing comments about the church and church goers, or the sympathetic way the wicked and tormented main character is portrayed.


Armadale is Collins' longest book. It has a complex melodramatic plot of which the main character says 'how unnatural all this would be, if it was written in a book!' but which keeps one reading to find out what happens next.

Some of the chapters are made of letters from one character to another, or of entries in a diary, or both. I have set the letters and diary entries off as blockquotes with left aligned text, and have removed quotation marks within them unless the writer is quoting someone else. Quotation marks are curled, some scene breaks are added, British English is used, and spelling and punctuation are modernised.

As always please let me know of any errors so that I can fix them.
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File Type: epub Armadale - Wilkie Collins.epub (2.95 MB, 389 views)

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