Friday, May 1, 2009

In One Ear a Tale to Be Told

The book 'The Moonstone' was published by Wilkie Collins (1824-1889) in 1915. It's an english manor style of book, with various narrators. I love the language in it, and the descriptions of life at the time it is set.

Wilkie Collins also wrote 'The Woman in White' which is another of my favorite books. At the time they were written, his novels were serialized, or published in sections, similar to those of Charles Dickens, a contemporary and friend of Collins. They were considered 'sensation novels' and the precursor to the character of Sherlock Holmes invented by Conan Doyle.

It tells the story of a romance, a precious diamond, a family and a history, from the points of view of various people in the story as narrators.

It's been a long time since I read it in book form, and I'm enjoying listening to it as I drive or during lunch breaks. It's very Victorian in its setting and descriptions, with family secrets, mysticism and the class structure in the country manor house firmly in place.

I'm especially amused and inspired by the description of the children's exploration of the natural sciences and the mixing of colors in the italian style for 'the decoration of a door' of one of the main characters with gryphons, cherubs and other ornamental designs. I can just picture it in my mind.

The book is online at Project Gutenberg as a free e-book, if you are so inclined you can become one of their Distributed Proofreaders. Or head to the library, pull a dusty illustrated version off the shelves and dive right into the story, if you like that best. It's funny, mysterious and entertaining, all at once.

I'm listening to 'The Moonstone' on MP3 as a copyright-free download from LibriVox. The book is in the public domain, so the volunteer readers could make the MP3 files without copyright problems, and you can download for free from there also. The imagery of the english country house, the romantic language and the sacred asian jewel in the story are probably influencing my creativity.

Does what you watch, hear and read end up in your creative efforts?


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