The Transatlantic Moonstone: Part II

INTRODUCTION:

During the Victorian period, novels became more readily available to the public, rather than being restricted to the homes of the rich, due to advancements in printing technology. Weekly periodicals such as All the Year Round in the United Kingdom, and Harper’s Weekly in the United States, provided readers with a cost-effective way of accessing these novels. Rather than having to purchase costly hardcover books, they could spread out the cost over weeks and months by reading stories in mass-produced periodicals. (Bernstein and Chavez)

Wilkie Collins’ novel The Moonstone is an example of a serialized novel - it was published in Harper’s Weekly, All the Year Round, and also published as a triple decker volume. (Lanning 6) Reading a novel in parts rather than as a singular whole is a profoundly different experience in many ways, and there are differences between the UK publishing and the US publishing that affect the overall presentation of the text. These differences in presentation, such as illustrations, page layout, and other texts in these periodicals all impact the overall reading experience.

This exhibit will examine the second installment of The Moonstone, published on January 11th, 1868 in both Harper’s Weekly and All the Year Round. Although both published the same text on the same day, they present the text and its themes in differing ways. In particular, I will examine the way that race, as well as its intersection with the broader concept of the foreign versus the domestic, is portrayed in these two publications. The two publications were aimed at slightly different audiences and portray this issue of race and foreignness in differing ways. Harper’s Weekly’s publication of The Moonstone is more clearly racialized, whereas All the Year Round is more subtle in its portrayal of race, although both present foreignness as dangerous and inferior in comparison to Englishness and Americanness. Melissa Free’s essay “'Dirty Linen': Legacies of Empire in Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone” states:

“To "be" English in the nineteenth century was to be of, and hence constituted by, (the British) empire, to claim the summary position not only of Britishness but of empire itself. English identity was superincumbent, pressing down on that which simultaneously held it up: the subject races, the colonized countries, the "foreign.” Mutually constitutive of what it meant to be English, domestic and foreign were false binaries…” (Free 340)

In the same way, both English and American publications of The Moonstone castigate the foreign in order to uplift the domestic, whether this domestic refers to an imperializing British Empire or a postbellum America. This exhibit explores various aspects of these publications that engage with foreignness.

Works Cited:

Bernstein, Susan, and Julia Chavez. “Serialization - Victorian Literature.” Oxford Bibliographies, 4 Feb. 2018, www.oxfordbibliographies.com/view/document/obo-9780199799558/obo-9780199799558-0122.xml#firstMatch. 

Free, Melissa. ""Dirty Linen": Legacies of Empire in Wilkie Collins's the Moonstone." Texas Studies in Literature and Language, vol. 48, no. 4, 2006;2007;, pp. 340-371.

Lanning, Katie. “2011 VanArsdel Prize Essay Tessellating Texts: Reading 'The Moonstone' in 'All the Year Round.’” Victorian Periodicals Review, vol. 45, no. 1, 2012, pp. 1–22. JSTOR, JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/41638120.

Credits

Rawlings, Hannah