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victorian review • Volume 34 Number 1 178 The Cambridge Companion to Wilkie Collins Edited by Jenny BourneTaylor; pp. xix+207. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 2006. $85.00 cloth; $29.99 paper. During the last decade of the twentieth century, studies ofWilkie Collins began to flourish, following a century or more of neglect. In 1995, Wilkie Collins to the Forefront,Some Reassessments, edited by Nelson Smith and R. C.Terry, was published. It consists of fifteen essays originally presented at theWilkie Collins Centennial Conference, held at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, from 29 September to 1 October 1989.The year 1998 witnessed the publication ofAndrew Gasson’s Wilkie Collins:An Illustrated Guide.A year later saw the first publication of Collins’s earliest novel, Ioláni;Or,Tahiti as ItWas, written nearly 150 years earlier, in an edition edited and introduced by Ira B. Nadel (curiously, this text receives scant attention in The Cambridge Companion). In 2003, the University ofTennessee Press published Reality’s Dark Light:The SensationalWilkie Collins, edited by Maria K. Buchman and Don Richard Cox, which has fourteen contributors on various aspects of Collins’s oeuvre and aims to deliberately expand Collins’s afterlife beyond The Woman in White and The Moonstone. In the meantime, primary materials continue to emerge.These include a six-volume edition ofWilkie Collins’s letters (1999 and 2005) and a reconstruction of his library (2002).There are two outstanding biographies: Catherine Peters, The King of Inventors (revised edition 1993) and William M. Clarke (the husband of Collins’s great-granddaughter), The Secret Life ofWilkie Collins (revised edition 1996). So the introduction and thirteen essays in Jenny BourneTaylor’s volume rework some familiar territory; however, there are very welcome contributions to neglected areas. John Bowen writes well on “Collins’s shorter fiction,” observing appositely that“Wilkie Collins was adept at exploiting the narrative possibilities that the growth of magazine and periodical publishing in the nineteenth century created” (37). Moreover, Bowen’s contribution is the most pertinent for students of Victorian periodicals, although he misses some analytical opportunities, perhaps understandably, as his subject is Collins’s shorter fiction. However, Collins’s non-fiction prose, mainly written for HouseholdWords and All theYear Round, receives short shrift in The Cambridge Companion to Wilkie Collins. Jim Davies’s “Collins and the Theatre” is a succinct account of Collins’s fascination with the theatre and his attempts to earn a good deal of money by writing a London hit. Rachel Malik’s“The Afterlife ofWilkie Collins” encompasses a good deal in a short space, including a brief discussion of television and other adaptations. Interestingly, for Malik,“Collins proved a rich resource for early films” (183), an observation unfortunately insufficiently developed. Lyn Pykett, author of the recently published, very good Wilkie Collins (2005) in the Oxford“Authors in Context” series, while writing succinctly, retreads familiar territory in her“Collins and the Sensation Novel.” Similarly, Ronald R.Thomas in “The Moonstone, Detective Fiction and Forensic Science” contributes little 179 Reviews that we did not already know, and Lillian Nayder’s essay“Collins and Empire,” which is largely confined to The Moonstone, does not add anything to what has previously been said about this text. Graham Law’s “The Professional Writer and the Literary Marketplace” draws upon useful findings from his Serializing Fiction in the Victorian Press (2000).At least Law does refer to Collins’s and James Payn’s neglected joint assault on literary piracy in A National Wrong (1869); a deeper analysis of this work would have added considerably to his contribution . Carolyn Dever’s“The Marriage Plot and Its Alternatives” draws attention to rich complexities in Armadale (1866). John Kucich’s “Collins andVictorian Masculinity” includes an arresting opening sentence—“Wilkie Collins’s novels abound in melancholic male protagonists” (125)—and a reasonably detailed discussion of The Woman in White (1860). Kate Flint’s“Disability and Difference” acknowledges that“Wilkie Collins’s fiction repeatedly foregrounds a number of individuals who are challenged in their relationship to the material world” (153). Flint’s discussion of the neglected Hide and Seek (1854) and The Law and the Lady (1875) is replete with insights.Tim Dolin writes interestingly on“Collins’s career...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1923-3280
Print ISSN
0848-1512
Pages
pp. 178-179
Launched on MUSE
2015-10-07
Open Access
No
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