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The Evil Genius [Paperback]

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Item description for The Evil Genius by Wilkie Collins...

Collins' most financially successful novel, The Evil Genius, opens with a jury determining the fate of a sea captain whose ship allegedly facilitated a diamond theft. The story develops into a powerful novel of Victorian private life, including deception, adultery and divorce.
An "evil genius" is threatening to rip apart the fabric of the Linley home. Who is it and why? Is it the orphaned young governess for whom the father lusts; the brother-in-law who appears to help everyone, but succeeds often in making things worse; the meddling mother-in-law whose good intentioned interferences lead to greater heartache; the disloyal father, or perhaps the unassuming daughter?

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Item Specifications...

Pages   352
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.21" Width: 6.14" Height: 0.73"
Weight:   1.09 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Aug 2, 2007
Publisher   Tutis Digital Publishing Pvt. Ltd.
ISBN  8184560842  
ISBN13  9788184560848  

Availability  0 units.

More About Wilkie Collins

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Carolyn G. Heilbrun, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities Emerita at Columbia University, has authored scholarly classics such as Writing A Woman's Life. As Amanda Cross she has written numerous bestselling Kate Fansler mysteries including Honest Doubt. She lives in New York City.

Wilkie Collins was born in 1824 and died in 1889.

Wilkie Collins has published or released items in the following series...
  1. Dover Giant Thrift Editions
  2. Dover Thrift Editions
  3. Modern Library Classics (Paperback)
  4. Oxford World's Classics (Paperback)
  5. Penguin Classics
  6. Tantor Unabridged Classics

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Authors, A-Z > ( C ) > Collins, Wilkie
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > General > Classics
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > World Literature > British > British > Collins, Wilkie
4Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > General
5Books > Subjects > Mystery & Thrillers > Mystery > General

Reviews - What do customers think about The Evil Genius?

Domestic Drama  Apr 15, 2005
I enjoyed this volume from Collins a great deal. The plot moves along at a good clip. In it, the author explores the issues of gender roles that he examined in *The Dead Secret* and the legal position of spouses that fueled the plot of *The Law And The Lady.* In *The Evil Genius,* however, the momentum of the story derives not from mystery but from domestic drama. The players find themselves in moral quandaries that keep getting more and more complicated. These quandaries are partly a result of each individual's complex morality entwined with their ardent desires for love and family life, and partly a result of the nature of late Victorian society and its narrow rules about marriage, parenting, respectability, religion, and sexuality. It is the characters, and their complicated relationships to each other, that move the plot. The web of family and friends makes for a great soap opera. The book leaves behind the pot-boiler elements, symbolism, and-- let's admit it-- the purpler and lurid aspects of Collins' more famous novels like *Armadale* and *The Woman In White.* He turns instead to family dynamics and comic embellisments to draw well-rounded, often contradictory characters. Mrs. Presty, Capt Bennydeck, Little Kitty, Attorney Sarrazin, and brother Randal-- all push and pull memorably on the main triangle of players while struggling with their own divided motives. This novel, like *Hide And Seek,* is a nice surprise lying amidst Collins' lesser known works.
Novel Ahead of its Time: Victorian Domestic Drama & Divorce  Sep 20, 2003
Wilkie Collins' "The Evil Genuis" was published in 1886, about three years before the author's death. It is unanimously agreed that Wilkie Collins' works in 1870-80s are inferior to his four masterpieces in the 60s (such as "The Woman in White" and "The Moonstone"), but "The Evil Genuis" is a welcome surprise because this is surprisingly well-made and occasionally, very arresting.

The novel is well ahead of its time, dealing with such topics as divorce and child-custody, and unlike other works of him in this era, or writers like Charles Reade, the whole effect is not didactic. There is no murder or stolen jewel, but still this domestic drama is quite engaging in its own way.

The story starts with a courtroom scene, where the procedure of the jury to decide whether a certain man is guilty or not is described with Collins' amusingly satrical touch. But this interesting sequence is just an introduction to the main part, in which an ill-treated girl Sydney Westerfield is taken under the wing of handsome Mr. Herbert Linley as governess. Herbert is living with his pretty and merry daughter Kitty, his amiable wife and her acid-tongued mother in Scotland. And don't forget, Sydney is sweet-natured and for all her painful past, she is very beautiful.

A beautiful governess and husnand in the same house. You should know what happens next (like, Minnie Driver and Tom Wilkinson in the film "The Governess"). You see a newly-born difference between the husband and wife, and then the officious mother-in-law makes it worse. It is a usual course, you may say, but this is a Victorian novel; there are lots of melodramatic coincidences that help the tension rise higher and higher. As melodrama with surprisingly modern subjevt matter "The Evil Genius" has considerble power, written with complelling dialogues. The child Kitty's are memorable among them, who must live among this acrimonious atomosphere.

The rest of the story is unpredictable and very interesting, showing the Victorian way of handling the matters like custody and even possibility of re-marriage, but Collins' stance is very ambiguous through the novel about these guilty people. You may remember the historical fact that Wilkie Collins himself never married, but was very happy continuing his relations with two women at the same time.

A few words about the title's "Genius." You soon realize to whom this apparently self-evident word refers, but in fact the "genius" means here not the people like Edison, but rather, "a spirit." This "Evil Genius" is used as a kind of antonym (opposite meaning) to "Angel of the House," referring to the very meddling person. That character's description is very compelling, one of the best creations Collins made.

Not his best, but still "The Evil Genius" deserves to be read by those who are interested in social matters like divorce and child-custody in Victorian period, or in any good domestic dramas.

[about BROADVIEW LITERARY TEXT] Broadview's edition includes Prof. Graham Law's introduction, and 9 pages of notes which are helpful. Also, it has 5 excerpts of contemporary reviews (4 pages), brief samples of advertisements for governess, fashionable news (news about the celebrities), and reports of the real divorce cases.

Evil, Genius, Or Both  Oct 31, 2000
Mr. Collins is best known for "The Moonstone", and "The Lady In White", and is generally considered the originator of modern mystery writing. He wrote an extensive body of work that never reached the same success with the public as the 2 works already mentioned. Some of his later work is not of the same caliber of his best-known writings, but there are many that are well worth the time of any reader that enjoys 19th Century Fiction. "The Evil Genius" is one work that while not stellar when compared to his best, is still as good or better than many contemporary practitioners of the genre.

Mr. Collins had an interest in the laws of Scotland as they applied to marriage. This was a theme he dealt with on more than one occasion. I have found him to be unique that while he addresses the impact of the law on both men and women, he more often than not explores the women's viewpoint, either as victim or beneficiary of Scotland's unique body of law. "Evil Genius" is an example of the law being a "friend" to the Wife, however this is but one event that results from the tale, and catalyzes many others.

This is not a mystery in the style of who did the deed, rather a study in who did what to whom and why. There is one who I believe virtually all readers will deem "The Evil Genius", however Mr. Collins gives all involved in this tale their chance at the title. In several cases the action that you readily expect of a person is precisely what they do not do. Generosity replaces greed, falsehoods of a devastating nature are set on the most innocent of persons, and honor has as many meanings in this work as there are characters that believe they practice it.

The story includes an opening with a jury that will ensure you never want to be a defendant, a ship that was alleged to have been intentionally destroyed at sea facilitating a diamond theft, and the ship's captain languishing in prison awaiting the verdict. From this point on the book traces the seemingly random intersecting of a variety of persons, some of who are the more interesting characters Mr. Collins created. There is Mrs. Presty, the Mother In Law created by Dante, Mrs. Linley or Norman or Linley and her extremely precocious Daughter Kitty, a Captain Bennydeck, and the attorney Mr. Sarrazin. Mr. Sarrazin is particularly interesting, described as "being English down to the weight of his umbrella"; he is actually of French descent. These alternate personalities are demonstrated when he rescues truffles from a friend's plate, and finding he could have only enjoyed them more were his eyes closed so that he may have concentrated upon them. However when asked whether he can row a boat he replies "In any water you like Mr. Gardener, fresh or salt." And then "Think of asking Me an athletic Englishman, if I could row!"

The story is not the strongest of Mr. Collins's works, but is very worthwhile. A decent story that contains great players, and some wonderful dialogue.


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