THE PRECEDENT OF DETECTIVE NOVEL , THE PORTRAIT OF SOCIAL REALITY
—— From 《The Woman In White》
Fortunately，I have a chance to read The Woman In White written by Wilkie Collins which was a collection of manuscript narratives by individual characters and an epistolary novel . It was the author’s first detective novel which was published in 1860 and also initiated an additional way for English literature.
PART ONE: About Wilkie Collins
William Wilkie Collins, writer of short stories and originator of detective novels in English, was born in 1824. The son of a respected landscape painter, he was named after his painter godfather, David Wilkie. Educated in London, Collins studied to become a lawer, although it was never his intention to practise, and by 1848 he had turned to writing. He was hugely popular in his time ,and 27 novels ,more than 50 short stories , at least 15 plays and over 100 pieces of non-fiction work.His best -known works are The woman In white , The Moonstone and Armadale.
PART TWO: About the work
The Woman in White is an epistolary novel written by Wilkie Collins.Taking the characteristic of heroes' similar appearance as the main background, the author expresses human being's spirits of risking one's life for great love .It is consi -dered to be among the first mystery novels and is wildly regarded as one of the first and finest in the genre of ‘sensation novels’. Besides, his narrative style —the use of multiple narratives, which moves from character to character,makes the novel
specially wonderful, as Collins points out in his preamble, ‘the story here presented will be told by more than one pen, as the story of an offence against the law is told in court by more than one witness.’
The novel famously opens with Walter Hartright's eerie encounter with the woman in white on the moonlit London road,which has laid a solid foundation to the whole story and has transmitted to us a picture full of suspenses. When engaged as a drawing master to beautiful Laura Fairlie, whose appearance presents something analogous to the woman in white concerned above, He deeply fell in love with the heroine Laura. However, she had to marry percival absolutely without character in his father's arrangement who had been coveted her property and marry her for it alone. Sir and Laura's uncle Fosco colluded with each other and persecuted her sister anne to death ,whose appearance presented something analogous to Laura in the vile way of bait -and-switch ,and then held a public funeral by taking anni as the Percival's wife. At the same time ,they brought Laura into delimma instead of anne.
Afterwards, the novel turns back to Hartright’s angle and recounts his reunion with Laura and Marian. Finally, failing to resort to the law, they helped Laura escape from delimma with their own witness and brave.At the end of the book, Hartright tells in detail how he looks for evidence of Sir Percival and Fosco’s crime and how the two evil men are stewed in their own juice, what’s more, the real identity of the woman in white is finally uncovered . After all, the story had a happy ending.Laura and Walter got married and had a son,who became the master of Limmerig House after Mr Farlie's death. Through the whole story , the author aims to express human being's spirits of risking one's life for great love,specifically including friendship, affection and love in this novel !
PART THREE: About Writing Styles
This book is wonderfully written . Firstly, it is considered to be among the first mystery novels and is wildly regarded as one of the first and finest in the genre of ‘sensation novels’,which has been confirmed than shaken by many authoritative literary critics ,and Since the novel's first publication in 1860, generations of readers have experienced just this sensation..The whole story is so suspenseful that when reading it, the reader is always looking for the answer in a sense of curiosity. The second One is about the narrative method.Collins uses different narrators--perh- aps eight altogether, but two or three main ones—to tell different aspects of the whole story, and then he puts each of them in order to infer the clues, finally annouces the surprisingly real facts. In this way, Collins creates vivid, memorable characters (ranging from brave intelligentto the surprising and sinister Count Fosco) who tell the story from the angle of their own interest.
PART FOUR : Character Analysis
There are many characters in this story, such as the heroine Laura,her half-sister Marian ,the woman in white Anne and the painter Walter Hartright and so on . For example, Laura is gentle,sensitive,and it can be said that in man's eyes, she is a perfect woman, but somehow in other words, Soft words, fine sentiments, noble taste ,all of these are just a byword for weakness. it was laura's weakness that caused her to the tragedy. Different from Laura, Marian is strong ,ugly, independent and wearing two kinds of gender roles . If it is said that Jane Eyre is the first heroine with a mediocre appearence in the history of English literature,
while Marianne is the first ugly woman ."the woman is dark," "she is young," "she's ugly," "a firm, man's big mouth and chin." ,all of which are the descriptions to her. However, she left a memorable, special impression to the reader .She is a noble woman ,her irresistible charm is not her appearance but her beautiful soul, intelligent minds and independent personality ! In a word , no matter what kinds of traits, all characters left the social imprint at that time.
When reading the book for the first time, I inferred from the title that the woman in white was a ghost (who knows why!)so I fully expected some specter to rise out of the misty moors. Instead, I was surprised to find myself in the grip of a diabolical and tragic tale told by several different and distinct voices .This book kept me in wanting more after every page and it was very hard to set it down to get other stuff done.Let it be read over again and there will be found on every page the reason why it is called a classic literature work!