Friday, February 12, 2010

The Woman in White

Finished The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. I could not put this book down. It is an intricate tale of deception told in written accounts by various characters in the novel. It is considered the first detective novel written in English. It was published serially in All the Year Round, Charles Dickens' weekly literary magazine. Collins' novel immediately followed the serialization of A Tale of Two Cities, which I just finished last month. This was not intentional on my part, just an interesting coincidence.

The book's villain, Count Fosco, is one of the most wonderful characters I have ever encountered. He is so eccentric, so audacious and yet so well mannered, I cannot help but love him.

At about the same time that The Woman in White was published as a three volume book, Whistler had an exhibition of paintings in Paris and London. One of the paintings, The White Girl, was assumed by critics to be a representation of the title character from Collins' novel. Whistler was very annoyed by this because the painting had nothing to do with the novel. He renamed the painting Symphony in White, No 1. Sadly, today it is often used as cover art for the book.

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