An introduction to a classic Victorian novel
Will the real Allan Armadale please stand up? Armadale, Wilkie Collins’s longest novel (and he wrote quite a few doorstops), was serialised in Cornhill magazine between November 1864 and June 1866, and published as a two-volume novel in 1866. It took Collins two years to write. Like another of Collins’s perennially popular novels, The Moonstone, the narrative comprises a series of testimonies and accounts (such as from characters’ diaries and letters) which gradually shed light on the mystery. What follows are some notes towards an analysis of the novel’s themes and characters, perhaps the most notable of whom is Lydia Gwilt, one of Victorian fiction’s most scandalous villainesses.
Armadale is a long novel – over 800 pages in the (recommended) Oxford World’s Classics edition – but this will have to be a short plot summary. In 1832, Allan Armadale confesses on…
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