"The Transatlantic Moonstone: Part VI"
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins is fascinating because of the way that the story has been used to explore cultural and social context both internally, and externally. Although it could be assumed that Collins had complete control of his narrative, the serial and transatlantic nature of his novel ensured that there was, and is a level of interpretation that he could not regulate.
In Katie Lanning’s article, “2011 VanArsdel Prize Essay Tessellating Texts: Reading The Moonstone in All the Year Round”, Lanning suggests that in the context of All the Year Round, Collins uses Betteredge’s emotional attachment to Robinson Crusoe to create a need, and then embodies the language of commerce to sell the book as a “healing” commodity (2). She also states that “Collins refers to himself as a ‘saleable commodity’ “, and that he understands “his occupation as profitable” (4). However, in view of the variant transatlantic contexts of his serialized article, it is doubtful that Collins could have inserted a large amount of commercial advertisement that was purely of his own devise.
Both Harper’s Weekly and All the Year Round are careful to note the permission granted by the author to copy out the original text. However, the mercenary and commercial focus of Harper’s Weekly contrasts strongly with the more literary and creative emphasis of All the Year Round. Within these contexts, the story becomes less of an accurate authorial representation, and more of a purely cultural artifact to be manipulated and crafted by values that far exceed the author’s own writing. The February 8, 1868 edition of Harper’s Weekly is rife with literalism and mercenary emphasis. The bulk of the magazine focuses on facts, rather than fiction, and the overt commercialism of the last page ensures that the reader finishes the paper in a truly wealth-oriented frame of mind. In contrast, the corresponding issue of All the year Round is predominantly stories, with the main commodity manifesting as intellectual creativity rather than economy. These differing values are evident in the articles and stories surrounding the story in both magazines. Since the story is focused on a diamond of great value, this means that the viewers are invited to very different readings of the Moonstone’s importance. Instead of being a pure interaction between author and reader, the object of the Moonstone becomes subject to the values of the cultural view of wealth and commodity.
Lanning, Katie. “2011 VanArsdel Prize Essay Tessellating Texts: Reading The Moonstone in All the Year Round.” Victorian Periodicals Review 45.1 (2012): 1-17. Web.