Honestly, I didn’t know whether to post this today. But I’m going to keep on keeping on, and hope that by promoting critical reading, people (cough white people cough) will learn to think about the media they consume (and the politicians they elect). Right. Onto the review.
I know that this is a bit of a deviation from my normal reading and reviewing, but I recently read Wilkie Collins’ The Moonstone for my crime fiction class, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! I thought it would be worth chatting about, anyway. 🙂
From the outset, this is obviously a colonialist narrative. The Moonstone is a diamond that is stolen from an ancient Indian statue of Shiva. It has been taken to England, and passed through the Verinder family – although it brings upon a family curse that might affect generations… (Classic white people stealing shit that isn’t theirs, amirite?)
However, through the course of the discussion in my seminar, my tutor pointed out that this could almost be understood as an anti-colonialist narrative. One of the main characters is Ezra Jennings, a man of mixed race, who is consistently debased and denigrated – mainly by himself. However, he consistently proves himself to be a man of rationality, passion, and science. In a world where the white British characters are constantly suspicious of the Indian characters who are attempting to recover the Moonstone, Ezra Jennings reveals a world of unjust punishment for people of colour.
(And I know that narratives that make white people realise how prejudiced they are aren’t exactly the most modern, or ground-breaking, but this was published in 1868. I’d like to think that Collins was doing pretty well for his time.) Collins’ awareness of racial politics isn’t the greatest – however. It is a pretty fun mystery story (including Inspector Cuff, a detective who is obsessed with roses), and for the time, it had quite an interesting perspective on colonialism. In comparison to other classics that I’ve read recently, The Moonstone is a very reflective piece of crime literature, and one that I would recommend.