Thursday, February 29, 2024

1000 Books Project - The Moonstone Discussion Two

If you are not reading along, be aware of potential spoilers ahead.

To begin, can we rename Second Period, First Narrative to Second Period, The Tiresome Miss Clack? Asking for a friend. 

I am quite stumped as to why Collins chose Clack to narrate. I'm reminded of the Tom Bombadil part in The Fellowship of the Ring, which I felt was quite tedious and unnecessary. Yes, Clack's narrative did advance the story, but I'm wondering if it was meant as comic relief, or was it a way for Collins to show his disdain for Christianity? I did read that adding this narrative was a way to show the opposing forces of Christianity and Hinduism. Collins professed himself a Christian, but he was also a freethinker, and he did oppose dogmas and creeds because he felt they led to persecution and war. As a non-religious freethinker myself, I just found Clack to be tiresome (as noted above). I was also reminded of Ichabod Crane, who is written as comic relief in The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Clack's self-awareness (even though she would deny it) is very much like Ichabod's. Yet, where his inflated perception of himself falls to more secular leaning (a singer with a talent like no other, intellectual superiority due to his education), Clack's inflated self-perception comes from her thinking she is beyond reproach because she is a Christian. Honestly, some of the things she thought and said brought to mind a certain subset of Christians in this country who use their Christian status to declare superiority, but to also state quite publicly that Christians are persecuted. Oh, and I forgot to mention...don't get me started on her proselytizing. She is relentless!!

Here are the passages I highlighted...

"...the true Christian never yields. Neither public nor private influences produce the slightest effect on us, when we have once got our mission."

"We are above reason; we are beyond ridicule; we see with nobody's eyes, we hear with nobody's ears, we feel with nobody's hearts, but our own. Glorious, glorious privilege! And how is it earned: Ah, my friends, you may spare yourselves the useless inquiry! We are the only people who can earn it--for we are the only people who are always right." 

"Oh, Rachel! Rachel!...Haven't you seen yet, that my heart yearns to make a Christian of you? Has no inner voice told you that I am trying to do for you, what I was trying to do for your dear mother when death snatched her out of my hands? I don't understand your reference to my mother," [Rachel] said. "Miss Clack, will you have the goodness to explain yourself?"

"...I stated the view with which sound doctrines does not scruple to regard the awful calamity of dying unprepared. Rachel started back from me...with a scream of horror. [Rachel said] "Come away, for God's sake, before that woman can say any more! Oh, think of my poor mother's harmless, useful, beautiful life! You were at the funeral, Mr. Bruff; you saw how everybody loved her; you saw the poor helpless people crying at her grave over the loss of their best friend. And that wretch stands there, and tries to make me doubt that my mother, who was an angel on earth, is an angel in heaven now! Don't stop to talk about it! Come away! It stifles me to breathe the same air with her! It frightens me to feel that we are in the same room together!"

"Is there more to be added to this plain statement of facts--to this touching picture of a Christian persecuted by the world?"  

"And when I die--to complete the return on my part of good for evil--she will have the LIFE, LETTERS, AND LABOURS OF MISS JANE ANN STAMPER left her as a legacy by my will."

My say to a person that has just lost a loved one, to imply that said person is going to hell. That is not Christian goodness. We also see that she plans to proselytize even beyond death. Relentless woman! 

So, we are past this "tiresome" narrative. Whatever the true reasoning Collins had in presenting this part of the narrative in such a way, I can only imagine the discussions it has provoked over the many years since it was written. 

From this narrative, we now know that Rachel was set to marry Franklin Blake, but had discovered something about him that makes her not want to be with him, but she also feels she cannot be with anyone else. I'm sure we will see what Blake has done to warrant Rachel's decision as we continue on in the story. 

What did you think of the this section of our reading? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

Here is the reading schedule if you need to reference it again. (Click link and scroll down)
I'll be back on March 31 with the next discussion post.

Thursday, February 1, 2024

1000 Books Project - The Moonstone Discussion One

If you are not reading along, be aware of potential spoilers ahead.

I wasn't sure what to expect upon beginning this book. I have read The Woman in White, which I loved. But this book takes an entirely different tone. I'm reminded of Agatha Christie and other similar mystery authors. I can easily see that Collins could have been influential for many mystery authors. Sergeant Cuff reminded me of a Hercule Poirot/Detective Columbo mashup. His whistling of "The Last Rose of Summer" reminded me of a tactic used by many a detective to "throw them off the scent" so to speak, though Mr. Betteredge seems to have thought of it as more of a tell, indicating that Cuff has had a breakthrough. Maybe it was that too.

I have to mention a couple of passages that make this very indicative of the time it was written. 

In Chapter IV, Mr. Betteredge is speaking with Rosanna and, as she was sitting beside him, his thought was "When you want to comfort a woman by the shortest way, take her on your knee. I thought of this golden rule." Um, that certainly wouldn't fly in this day and age. I know he's a kindly older gentleman, but still. It seems it would be odd to have someone sit on your lap that was not your daughter. As I said, a sign of the time this book was written.

This one was a doozy. In Chapter XVII, Penelope asks her father (Betteredge) to speak with Rosanna. His inner thought again..."But it is a maxim of mine that men (being superior creatures) are bound to improve women..if they can. When a woman wants me to do anything (my daughter, or not, it doesn't matter), I always insist on knowing why. The oftener you make them rummage their own minds for a reason, the more manageable you will find them in all the relations of life. It isn't their fault (poor wretches!) that they act first and think afterwards; it's the fault of the fools who humour them." In my experience, men act first and think afterwards, but I digress. No wonder it took so long to get the right to vote when men had this kind of attitude toward us. Sadly, there are some who would love to go back to this (and some women who wouldn't even care..egads!). Poor wretches indeed! Ugh.

Now that my outrage is out of the way. Ha! I will just say that this is a first rate mystery and I can't wait to read the next section. 

What did you think of the first section? Share any and all thoughts in the comments.

Here is the reading schedule if you need to reference it again. (Click link and scroll down)
I'll be back on February 29 with the next discussion post.