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Old 03-15-2019, 05:56 PM   #16
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Interesting! I hadn’t really thought of this question. I read somewhere that his illustrator claimed to have been told the intended ending. Can anyone explain please how the book installments were published? Were they soft-bound? Did each installment have a different image or was the same one used over and over?

Did Dickens choose the title himself? If yes, then why did he pick that title? It is “mystery” and not “murder.” Was it to emphasize that he was trying his hand at writing a mystery this time?
The Drood Inquiry website I found does give images of the magazines in which the serial appeared, complete with advertisements - lovely stuff to browse over. The green wrapper appeared for each instalment.

The wrapper illustrations were done by his son-in-law David Collins (brother of Wilkie, and first husband of his daughter Kate), but he didn't do the illustrations which appear in the text.

On the titles, Nicoll in his book The Problem of 'Edwin Drood': A Study in the Methods of Dickens (one of Catlady's finds) gives Dickens' notes for the novel. It includes a list of possible titles:

Quote:
The Loss of Edwyn Brood.
The Loss of Edwin Brude.
The Mystery in the Drood Family.
The Loss of Edwyn Drood.
The Flight of Edwyn Drood. Edwin Drood in hiding.
The Loss of Edwin Drude.
The Disappearance of Edwin Drood.
The Mystery of Edwin Drood.
Immediately below this list is:
Quote:
Dead? or Alive?
This suggests that Dickens intended to tease his readers with wondering whether Edwin was indeed dead or alive, which is why he called it "Mystery" rather than "Murder".
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Old 03-15-2019, 06:11 PM   #17
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Who was Dick Datchery? Did Mr. Grewgious hire him to catch Jasper?

My unanswered question is what the heck did Jasper do after he drugged Durdles? I couldn’t see how that helped him any, since Durdles kept the keys to the crypt.
Dick Datchery is definitely an odd character, with his large head and mop of grey or white hair. One suggestion by Nicolls which seems outlandish initially is that this was Helena Landless. We are told by her brother that she had disguised herself as a boy when they ran away, and that she was the one who was the bold leader. She wants to clear her brother's name and so has a vested interest in bringing Jasper to justice. The hair is pretty obviously a wig and the head is large presumably because her long hair is bound up under the wig.

Datchery has to be someone in disguise. Other suggestions are that he was Edwin himself (but surely that would require major changes to his face for him not to be recognised), Mr Grewgious' clerk Bazzard, or Tartar. But neither Bazzard nor Tartar would need to be in disguise, as Datchery clearly is.

On the actions of Jasper after he drugged Durdles, he probably made wax impressions of Durdles' keys, so that in the future he could avail himself of either the crypt or the Sapsea tomb in disposing of Edwin's body.
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Old 03-15-2019, 08:07 PM   #18
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Dick Datchery is definitely an odd character, with his large head and mop of grey or white hair. One suggestion by Nicolls which seems outlandish initially is that this was Helena Landless. We are told by her brother that she had disguised herself as a boy when they ran away, and that she was the one who was the bold leader. She wants to clear her brother's name and so has a vested interest in bringing Jasper to justice. The hair is pretty obviously a wig and the head is large presumably because her long hair is bound up under the wig.

On the actions of Jasper after he drugged Durdles, he probably made wax impressions of Durdles' keys, so that in the future he could avail himself of either the crypt or the Sapsea tomb in disposing of Edwin's body.
Bookpossum - thanks for filling in the mystery of Durdles’ key. I couldn’t get past the notion that Jasper would need the actual key to have a copy made. He could have used the wax mold in London without being recognized. Or make it himself.

It’s a neat website. I could easily see Helena taking up a disguise. She said when she first met Jasper that she’d never be afraid of him “under any circumstances”.

It was quite surprising to read that the majority of 19th c. readers thought Edwin was still alive. Their reasoning is an interesting twist - Edwin wouldn’t come forward to clear his uncle, because Jasper had made an attempt on his life, which is plausible. He could have taken Princess Puffer’s warning to heart, and been on his guard. Maybe I was a bit hasty in saying there was no mystery

Last edited by Victoria; 03-15-2019 at 08:12 PM.
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Old 03-15-2019, 08:36 PM   #19
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Regarding the possibilities like Datchery being being Helena, and stealing the keys to make wax impressions. Today these seem trite, almost a parody of the fiction of the times. That reaction makes me want to reject them as possibilities, but I guess I need to remember the reaction back then would have been different.

Datchery does seem to be too obviously a disguise (even just the timing of his arrival hints at this). That Andrew Lang article points out some of Datchery's behaviour that appears to be - perhaps - hiding his/her hands, which may argue for it being Helena ... or not.

I keep wondering whether, rather than a wax impression, Jasper merely did something (left a door unlocked?), or moved something (the lime?). Were we, earlier that night, directed to look at the lime because it's important, or was it a diversion? Again I have trouble not looking at this as a modern reader who expects a Christie-like murder mystery to be full of misdirections, even to the extent (as noted earlier) to looking at the least-likely suspect (Crisparkle) and thinking he must be guilty.

There is too much we don't know. Princess Puffer has to be important, but there are just so many ways that could go.
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Old 03-15-2019, 08:55 PM   #20
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It didn't work very well for me as a mystery, but still some fine passages in it, starting with the opium den, and then the introduction to Cloisterham, which seemed to make it something of an anti-Barsetshire. Some hints already at the beginning that this will not have a happy ending.

I enjoyed the passage in the crypts, especially the description of Durdles as an aeronaut with the bottle.
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Old 03-15-2019, 09:12 PM   #21
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I usually enjoy Dickens, so this was not going to be a stretch for me. I always enjoy the caricature characters that Dickens draws. I relish his plays on words that were clearly intended to push his wordcount up (he was paid by the word for his serials). Outlandish? You bet, but very entertaining to me nonetheless. I enjoy hating his dastardly and dumb characters, and I enjoy both main female characters in this one as well.
I almost need a warm-up book for Dickens. Something to set the mood and remind me that caricature characters does not mean the whole thing is a farce. Otherwise I get what happened to me here, and I hit the caricatures and start to expect all the wrong things.
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:56 PM   #22
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For me, Rosa started off as one of Dickens' sickly sweet pretty little heroines, but she did at least have the oomph to break off the engagement. Helena was a much more interesting young woman. I suppose I liked the idea of Datchery being Helena in disguise because she had the courage and drive to do it.

While it seems hard to believe she could get away with it, there were real live cases of women masquerading as men and fooling everyone. I seem to remember reading about one who worked as a doctor in the US during the Civil War or some other 19th century war?

I really don't care for Dickens' caricatures: they always seem laboured and unfunny to me, but of course tastes change over time. And the same is true with the wickedness of Jasper and the heavy-handed pointers to things like the quicklime. It's all about as subtle as a sledgehammer.

The child called Deputy or Winks sounds like a serial killer in the making, but given the awful life he was living, it's no wonder he was so vicious. I wonder if he was going to be redeemed by the end of the book and perhaps adopted by Helena and Crisparkle. On the other hand he might have been killed in the quest to capture Jasper. Dickens did like child deathbed scenes.

Still, Dickens does get some good atmosphere going right at the beginning in the opium den, and at various other times, and you can see why people were so caught up in his serialised books.
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Old 03-15-2019, 10:58 PM   #23
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The Drood Inquiry website I found does give images of the magazines in which the serial appeared, complete with advertisements - lovely stuff to browse over. The green wrapper appeared for each instalment.

On the titles, Nicoll in his book The Problem of 'Edwin Drood': A Study in the Methods of Dickens (one of Catlady's finds) gives Dickens' notes for the novel.

This suggests that Dickens intended to tease his readers with wondering whether Edwin was indeed dead or alive, which is why he called it "Mystery" rather than "Murder".
Awesome! Thank you for this info and the sleuthing! I didn’t have time to look at the website when I was eating my breakfast this morning and posting before work. I’ll check it out over the weekend. Interesting to know that the title was his own. I think it is the best out of that possible list.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:00 PM   #24
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You are welcome. Some of those old magazines are fascinating to look at, just for the advertisements!

The Nicolls book is worth a quick skim too, though he does repeat himself quite a bit.
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:09 PM   #25
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“The Mystery of Edwin Drood” is not an early whodunit, competing with the writing of Dickens’ colleague Wilkie Collins, but a novel about the disappearance and death of Drood, presumably to include how Jasper managed to carry it out, how he was discovered and punished, and how these circumstances affected both him and the other dramatis personae. As Dickens’ daughter Katey reminds us, her father “was quite as deeply fascinated and absorbed in the study of the criminal Jasper, as in the dark and sinister crime that has given the book its title”.

So what deeper impulses, fantasies, and delusions motivated him? He “loves” Rosa Bud—but why and how? What in his background drew him to opium and why the hatred of the old woman who supplies him?
Thank you, fantasyfan. Great questions! I would add to the list why is Rosa Bud repulsed and fearful of him from the beginning of the novel?
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Old 03-16-2019, 02:43 AM   #26
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It’s more of a howdunnit, and how brought to justice.

With Rosa and Jasper, I think it was that he was creepy because of his obsessive infatuation of her. He would be the sort to make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.
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Old 03-16-2019, 10:18 AM   #27
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According to Wikipedia "It was therefore approximately half finished." So we're not talking about missing just the last chapter, there was room left for a lot of things to happen. It seems to me that most of the proposed solutions don't really cut it in this aspect. Dickens could be wordy, but I think he still had a lot of story to tell. So I'm guessing there were going to be even more unanswered questions before the story started offering answers.
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Old 03-16-2019, 05:27 PM   #28
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Nicoll (my go-to man) suggests that in his other books, all the main characters have appeared by the halfway point, so we have the cast there, with maybe only a minor character or two walking on later on.

But yes, room for a lot more action to come.
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Old 03-16-2019, 08:38 PM   #29
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Nicoll (my go-to man) suggests that in his other books, all the main characters have appeared by the halfway point, so we have the cast there, with maybe only a minor character or two walking on later on. [...]
Hmm... that seems almost - but not quite - a tautology; in most fiction it is usual for all the main characters to have appeared by the halfway point. I suppose he may be alluding to the fact that a character's significance may be revealed late, as with Great Expectations where we only understand the part of Magwitch at around the halfway mark.

This great expectation (sorry for the poor pun) is one of the reasons why Datchery stood out from the moment he was mentioned. Coming so late into the story, and seeming to be a significant character, the reader is naturally inclined to think it is an already known character in disguise. And along the same lines, we are already seeing an increasing significance to The Princess Puffer, even if we don't yet have any idea where that will lead us.
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Old 03-17-2019, 01:20 AM   #30
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Yes, Princess Puffer hates Jasper for some reason we don’t know, and so will presumably be a part of his downfall, having heard what he has said under the influence even of opium. Datchery, having observed her, will no doubt endeavour to track her down to learn more.

You can’t help wishing that Dickens had plotted out his book in at least some broad detail. I suppose he kept it all in his head. It wasn’t that he just made it up as he went along, as that example of the importance of Magwich shows.
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