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Coastal English professor has scholarly book published

May 24, 2004

A Coastal Carolina University English professor has co-authored a scholarly edition of Blind Love, an unfinished book by Wilkie Collins, a 19th century British writer known as the grandfather of the detective novel.

Maria Bachman, associate English professor and co-director of the Honors Program at Coastal, and Don Richard Cox, a University of Tennessee professor, co-wrote the book just published by Broadview Literary Texts.

The new edition of Blind Love, designed for use in undergraduate and graduate classrooms, was drawn from Collins original manuscripts. The book features restored cuts that had been made as a result of the 19th-century fad of serializing novels in popular periodicals. The book includes a critical introduction and primary source materials that address the novels focus on movements for Irish independence. Appendices include newspaper accounts of Irelands Land War and of the fraud case on which Collins based his story, articles reacting to Collins sudden death, Punch cartoons depicting English attitudes toward the Irish, and contemporary reviews.

Bachman, who teaches courses on 19th-century British literature and culture, British and Irish modernism, and the novel, has published articles in many academic journals, including Victorian Newsletter, Literature and Psychology, The Dickensian, and Dickens Studies Annual. She and Cox also co-authored an anthology, Realitys Dark Light: The Sensational Wilkie Collins, published by University of Tennessee Press in 2003. Realitys Dark Light, a collection of 13 critical essays by other scholars, calls attention to Collins audaciously non-Victorian choice of topics and begs for a reevaluation of his literary legacy. Collins, who was so celebrated during his life (1824-1889) that he rivaled Charles Dickens as the most famous living Victorian novelist, was forgotten quickly after his death. Whereas Dickens name lives on through classics such as Oliver Twist, A Tale of Two Cities and many others, Collins, father of the mystery novel and Victorian bad boy, had all but vanished from the public consciousness for much of the 20th century.

His popularity rivaled Dickens, but then he fell into obscurity, says Bachman. Seen as a radical, especially in his later works, Collins had an artistic vision of realism that focused on darker truths than polite Victorian society wanted to acknowledge. He pushed the envelope in terms of Victorian morals, Bachman says, both in his writings and his own life (he lived with two mistresses he never married).

She and Cox are currently co-editing a scholarly edition of Collins The Woman in White, arguably his most popular and most accessible work.