Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone is a novel constructed through the repeated representation of the abnormal body. Reading The Moonstone in critical terms has traditionally required a primary engagement with form. The work has been defined as a foundational narrative in the genre of crime and detection and at the same time read as a narrative located within the context of the immensely popular group of sensation novels that dominate the Victorian literary marketplace through the middle and the second half of the nineteenth century. T. S. Eliot is one of the first readers to define one end of this paradigm, reading the novel as an original text in the genre of detective fiction, and famously saying that The Moonstone is “the first, the longest and the best of modern English detective novels” (xii). On the other end of the paradigm, the novel's formal workings are again often cited as a larger example, and even triumph, of Victorian sensation fiction – melodramatic narratives built, according to Winifred Hughes and the more recent Derridean readings by Patrick Brantlinger and others, around a discursive cross-fertilization of romanticism, gothicism, and realism.
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