Reading Classics

20 Jan

Instead of a traditional book review, I want to write about the book I am reading right now — The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins. Collins was a good friend of Charles Dickens, and I detect something of Dickens’ style in The Moonstone. Or maybe it is just the dense, complex, descriptive writing that was in vogue in the nineteenth century.

I have progressed about half way through this novel, considered to be one of the first and finest detective novels ever written. The action moves much slower than we twenty-first century readers are accustomed to. But it gives an insight into the class system of Victorian England that can’t be done even the the best historical detective novel written today, but set in that period.

I find it particularly interesting that the detective, Sergeant Cuff, disappears about a third of the way through the story, after he is paid and dismissed by the Lady Verinder. Time passes, Lady Verinder dies, and various other events occur to people who were present when the Moonstone was purportedly stolen from Lady Verinder’s daughter Rachel. But nothing more has happened in locating this gem.

The Moonstone belongs to a slower time, when people did not expect to find answers immediately, and they had time to wait and do move at a slow pace, in their reading and in their life.

How often do you go back and read classics? Have you left them behind with your school books? Is it still valuable to read books written more than a hundred years ago?

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