Transatlantic Moonstone Part IV
Considering the relatively recent creation of the novel, the system of publication of literary text similarly underwent multiple shifts to develop into the form it resides in today. Historically, the printing and publication of a novel was radically different compared to the current system of manufacturing books. With rising literacy rates and populations, the process of printing large four hundred page texts were neither economically viable or realistically practical until nearly the twentieth century. Instead, a cheaper alternative to promote writing while keeping printing costs relatively cheap resulted in the periodical publication in magazines and journals. Thus, texts could be produced quicker, as only small portions of a couple pages at a time were required for a weekly or monthly periodical, as well as negate the process of book binding. Thrilling narratives such as Wilkie Collins iconic mystery novel The Moonstone began as episodic instillations for its thirty-two week publication schedule. While Collins narrative was published simultaneously in England and America, the journals in which the novel resides, vastly differed. The British publication in All The Year Round was structured drastically different than the American journal counterpart Harpers Weekly.
There are striking differences for each journal and the content found inside despite both housing Collins episodic narrative. Structurally, Harpers Weekly included many more features than Charles Dickens weekly journal publication of All The Year Round. Harpers utilizes incredibly detailed images within the publication as opposed to Dickens magazine which exclusively focuses on text. With regard to font and page structure, Harpers uses four columns per page with a much smaller font size whereas All The Year Round only uses two columns with larger font, making reading within All The Year Round easier. Advertising with both works also functions in unique forms, where All The Year Round uses much less ads and when featured only pertain to other print publications such as journals and magazines. In contrast, Harpers Weekly has an array of advertisements within the journal, ranging from gold pen to farmer seeds. Finally, the price of the publications set them apart as well, for Harpers Weekly costs nearly double of what All The Year Round is priced at.
By far the most deviating force for situating the same narrative as two different text stems from the idea proposed that, “the non-illustrated version of the novel was highly complicated in narrative structure, with strategically delayed revelations and narrative red herrings as well as competing accounts of events by multiple narrators with differing points of view” (Leighton and Surridge 210-211). Leighton and Surridge later express how the inclusion of images further complicate the text despite the failed attempt to provide clarity. In considering how all aspects of print publication affect textual interpretation, it is important to consider how despite framing the same narrative within, both publication impact how Collins work is presented to readers.
Collins, Wilkie. The Moonstone. Oxford University Press, 1999.
Lanning, Katie. “Tessellating Texts: Reading The Moonstone in All the Year Round.” Victorian Periodicals Review 45.1 (2012): 1-22.
Leighton, Mary Elizabeth and Lisa Surridge. “The Transatlantic Moonstone: A Study of the Illustrated Serial in Harper’s Weekly.” Victorian Periodicals Review 42.3 (2009 Fall): 207-243.