Text Box: EN 4223 Sem 4 – Moonstone
Last seminar we talked about the detective element as a kind of turning inside-out of the MC social novel – by the end of the first period, the boundaries of the MC society (marked by the enigma of the Shivering Sand) have been at least temporarily breached from the inside out – Gabriel refers to it as a “scattered and disunited household,” the MC house is now completely empty because Rachel is “so unwilling to return to the house, after what had happened in it” p. 204.  There is a kind of mini-diaspora: Rachel and Lady V have gone to London, Godfrey has gone into the criminal/shady underworld planning the sale of the diamond and his financial resurrection, Franklin is “wandering in the East” somewhere (p. 323).
	We might say that the latter part of the novel (“Second Period”) makes explicit the geopolitical forces that were introduced/implicit in the earlier part.  
I.   India and Indians
India, one of Britain’s chief colonies, had an important place in the empire – was known as the “jewel in the crown” of Queen Victoria.  Yet, like many other aspects of colonial processes (shipping, commerce, wars), it essentially occupies a marginal position in the literary culture of the mid-Victorian period (how many Indian Mutiny novels can you think of?  Perhaps, as Hobsbawm suggests, it was necessary to have a kind of willful split consciousness, to recognise the possession of the colony, but ignore its cost, as a way of perpetuating colonialism).
	So Indians occur sporadically in mid-Victorian literature, but in such a marginal, transitory, abject and caricatured fashion that they seldom register significantly on the textual and cultural landscape. (See e.g.s from Dickens’ Dombey and Son, and Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, in Sem 4 supplementary references on course webpage).  Sometimes a more laudatory account appears (e.g. Hazlitt’s 1815 essay “The Indian Jugglers”), but still reductive and exoticising.
Moonstone thus quite a sea-change in its treatment of India and Indians.  
1.   India as setting: in the first place, the novel actually has some of the action occur in India – admittedly, this does not involve any of the main MC protagonists (except the morally dubious Herncastle, and the enigmatic and “semi-savage” Murthwaite), and admittedly the action is brief.  But the novel is effectively bracketed by India, in the Prologue and last section of the Epilogue.  Although brief, the mention of India possibly does several things to shape our reading of “England”:
a.   Conjoining “dark places” (a trope made famous by Conrad’s Heart of Darkness) – i.e. the seeming security and civilization of English MC society is tainted by the rapaciousness of (some of) the British soldiers in India.  England also becomes one of the “dark places” of the earth.  Thus, although there are few connections between the MC world and empire (brief mention of an Indian cabinet, a “Japanned tin,” of course Herncastle’s earlier career), the trope of rapacity allows us to see the MC world as historically connected to empire (apart from the diamond, how much more English wealth is derived, directly or indirectly, from its colony?), as well as socio-economically akin to empire (ie the empire of the wealthy over the poor – especially in the story of Rosanna, of Limping Lucy’s anger at the upper classes).
b.   Decline and fall – the story of the diamond is the story of earthly powers and their rise and fall: the threat posed to Hindu India by the Moguls; the sack of the temple in Benares by Aurungzebe; the transfer of the diamond “from one lawless Mohammedan hand to another”; the fall of the Moguls under the hand of the British (and, it is suggested, the eventual fall of the British empire one day?).  A similar thing happens in Rider Haggard’s She, where an ancient potsherd (itself bearing the story of immortality) gives a new perspective on the rise and fall of empires (Greece, Rome, modern Europe).  The fabulous timelessness of the diamond inevitably causes us to reflect on the transience of human empires?  (Lucy refers obliquely to a coming revolution against the MC ‘kingdom’ – “the day is not far off when the poor will rise against the rich” p. 207).
2.   India’s moral cause – the rapacity of the British, especially Herncastle, in the epilogue, sets a moral tone for the actions of the Indians in the rest of the novel.  Although there is still a certain moral dubiousness in their actions and methods – their manipulation of others (their English accomplices, the young English boy), their ruthlessness (especially in Godfrey’s murder), all this is set in the light of a moral injustice that needs to be set right.
3.   India’s spiritual cause – the recovery of the diamond is described in terms of a spiritual mystery, the devotion of the Brahmins to their moon god which transcends time and space.  Not only is there something awesome about a religious zeal which can endure for so long and which can overcome all the problems of space, there is even something touching about the simple and self-sacrificial service of the Indians to their god.  There is at least a certain ethnographic/anthropological interest in Indian religious culture, especially in Murthwaite’s perspective.
4.   The actual descriptions, actions, extent of plot participation of the Indians: instead of just having a bit part in the action, they play a significant and extenuated role.  They capture the suspicions and hostility of a number of the characters, thus not only showing up the innate racism and xenophobia of white Europeans, but also serving to conceal and defer the truth; they move around Yorkshire countryside, Frizinghall town, London (the world of blackmarket “antiquities,” the docks, ships), and are said to have a “modest little Indian organisation” p. 315, including white men (some of which act as agents in renting apartments in white-occupied buildings, and even in luring Luker and Godfrey) and Indians (one of which gets a job as craftsman with Luker).  Suggests an English society and space which is now much more porous to others; but also shows the efficacy and resourcefulness of these others, in so successfully negotiating a society in which their colour and culture still make them stand out.
	Most significant description of the Indians is probably Bruff’s:
He was carefully dressed in European costume.  But his swarthy complexion, his long lithe figure, and his grave and graceful politeness of manner were enough to betray his Oriental origin to any intelligent eyes that looked at him.
He might not have respected my life.  But he did what none of my own countrymen had ever done, in all my experience of them – he respected my time.
Mr Luker was, in every respect, such an inferior creature to the Indian… (pp. 309-311)
5.   Indians and other “Others”: instead of being isolated for ridicule or bit roles, the Indians thus come to play a larger symbolic significance in the novel: they show a network of social relations, of those considered marginal, oppressed, “other” within white MC English society.  Quite apart from the Indians’ little “organisation” for the purposes of restoring the diamond, there are all kinds of other positional affinities with other characters: Ezra Jennings has some “foreign blood” and was born in one of England’s colonies (racial hybridity) – like Franklin he is the victim of slander, but while Franklin is young, rich and attractive, Ezra’s appearance (which is in part a matter of colour – his “gypsy” complexion and “piebald” hair) and station in life make him a victim of social prejudices and hierarchies like the Indians.  Similarly Limping Lucy, Rosanna Spearman, even Miss Clack to a certain extent – all in dependent positions, all arguably exploited by white MC male society.  All share characteristics of social stigmatization – being cast in an inferior, suspect and powerless position, simply by virtue of appearance and background.  All in a sense are stories and careers of loss – losing some material thing, partly as the result of exploitation by their social superiors (Rosanna’s mother is jilted by her “gentleman,” and then she is treated indifferently by Franklin, whereas he pays attention to attractive servants like Penelope and Candy’s maid, and of course to Rachel; Lucy loses her dream of an independent life with Rosanna; Ezra’s “scandal” is unspecified, but scandal usually involves social position, and may have to do with his birth; Clack loses all social standing when her father becomes bankrupt, and the rest of her story is an attempt to recover some kind of significance or relevance), which profoundly affects their self worth and impels them in a quest for the recovery of their identities, usually with tragic or violent consequences (Rosanna dies, Lucy is bereft and on the brink of madness, Ezra dies alone and heartbroken, the Indians commit murder and spend the rest of their lives in exile).
	Centering the story on the MC romance (Franklin and Rachel, who are finally reconciled and presumably live happily ever after) is to ignore the pressing and multiple stories of “otherness” that are the consequences of the class system.  The text invites us to read with sympathy the story of “others” – the various (as it were) underdog stories that cluster around the MC characters.  Despite the tragic consequences of these lives, there is arguably a subversive hope, in their ability to negotiate with the power structure: Rosanna makes an impact on the story of the diamond’s theft, and controls part of the narrative; the Indians succeed in English space; even Lucy sets the terms on which she will release Rosanna’s letter/narrative.
II.   Gender/Race and Social Space/Movement
	Geopolitical fiction (even such an early e.g. as Moonstone) is thus crucially involved in the revision of MC white male authority, as part of a progressive picture of a world in change/motion. 
Notion of “patriarchy” – not any particular male figure, but the systematic control and ordering of society by a male order, which may exert itself in actual or symbolic, conscious or unconscious terms.  Acts through actual or symbolic paternal figures – older male authority figures (police, army officers, lawyers, politicians like Blake senior, possessors of society’s wealth and influence).  
While the novel initially seems to set up a colour divide (whites vs non-whites), in fact the final division is between patriarchal figures like Herncastle and the two male Ablewhites (and perhaps the two Blakes) on the one hand, and the racial-gendered others on the other.
One of the ways in which patriarchy controls others is via access to key social spaces – property, temples, political spaces (such as parliament), even the “inner sanctum” of the billiard room, the male study (characteristically the space of male business, as we see Bruff and Luker conducting) etc.  Female movement in this novel is characteristically limited and controlled: Lady V, for all her position and wealth, is largely confined to the two houses (in Yorkshire and London), and spends her time shuttling between them.  Rachel spends her time in a sequence of “protected” and approved MC spaces (the houses of her guardians Ablewhite and Mrs Merridew, Bruff’s house), even after she becomes a woman of wealth.  The presence of “strong” women like Lady V and Rachel does not invalidate this patriarchal control of space, but rather underscores its strength – women’s control of wealth (on the part of the few privileged women like the Verinders), like that over their own bodies, is only contingent and temporary – symbolized by Rachel’s possession of only a life interest in her wealth (a device created by her mother, as a kind of helpless complicity with patriarchy, simply because she doesn’t want her daughter to be the prey of her prospective husband).
In contrast, men are free not only to occupy those privileged spaces, but also to venture freely wherever they want – most clearly represented by the travels of Franklin and Murthwaite.  The Indian men are to a certain extent feminized by their race (they too are shut out of much of the English social space, although they resist this by subterfuge), but nevertheless they in turn occupy a privileged space in relation to native women (notice their absence from this early geopolitical novel).
Rosanna’s suicide in the Shivering Sand could be read as the swallowing up of the female body into the blank space – i.e. she shows the fate of women who refuse to conform to the social policing of space.  Another (not contradictory) way of reading her fate is to see her as succeeding in breaking out of social space – but to do so only by immersing herself in an unknown space, the only option for a woman in her time.  Suicide as boldly going where no Victorian woman has gone before.
In Deleuze and Guattari’s terms, we could see this still-Victorian (or early geopolitical) novel as a “primitive world” which still tries to mark human bodies (in gendered, socialized or racialised terms) and thus control their movements.  What is interesting is the depiction of at least the possibility of fighting against and negotiating those markings (although success is limited) – but the depiction of possibilities of resistance already show a world in transition, towards the “modern world” which, for D and G, consists of “re-coding” bodies towards a more fluid world-system.
Here the notion of the androgyne or hybrid is useful – are the Indians fully Indian/lower, or are they also (to a certain extent) European-like and “upper”/refined?  Is Murthwaite European or native?  Is Franklin English, French, German or something else?  Is Ezra European or other?  Is Rosanna WC or lady-like?   Racial and gendered mixing are means of the textual negotiation of a new and changing world order, in which old boundaries and categories give way to more fluidly flexible systems.
III.   Supernatural/Spiritual/Abstract Realm
In geopolitical fiction, the re-coding of marked bodies and old categories into newer fluid systems often involves codes of spirituality and supernaturalism.  (Rosanna removes her marked social body by throwing it into the Shivering Sand, and then in a sense becomes spirit – her disembodied posthumous voice controls the actions of Franklin and Betteredge, and plays a part in the final revelation of the mystery; and Franklin, poking around in the Sand, has a supernatural thrill of imagining her ghost observing and directing his actions).
	Interest in institutional Christianity (organized, established, socialized) declining in this period (although the Christian thinkers and writers – Newman, Thomas Arnold, F. D. Maurice, missionaries, and others, were not giving up), but interest in newer forms of belief (including, possibly, a revised and re-spiritualised form of Christianity) was increasing.
	The geopolitical “problem” of organized Christianity: how does a religion that has become so culturally specific, so involved in the existing social structure of white Europe, accord with a world that is rapidly changing and becoming more heterogeneously interactive?
	Signs of the decline of organized Christianity: in the unpleasant depiction of Miss Clack; Godfrey’s hypocritical band of “Christian” social work; Gabriel’s substitution of Robinson Crusoe for the Bible; the general moral decline of English society, even the MC (Herncastle’s viciousness, Ablewhite senior’s pride, Candy’s foolishness, etc – catalogue of “deadly sins”).
	Alternative spirituality: Clairvoyance (note: not exclusively Indian – the boy is English, and Franklin observes that “in our country” too people are practicing it), although dismissed by both Betteredge and Franklin, causes at least initial awe and fear (in Betteredge and Penelope), and may leave questions unanswered despite English skepticism: 
“…or whether the boy really did see the Diamond where the Diamond was now lodged (which I, for one, flatly disbelieve); or whether, after all, it was a mere effect of chance, this at any rate is the plain truth – not the ghost of an Indian came near the house again,…” (p. 54).
1.   Hinduism: not explicitly mentioned or dwelt on, but a note not just of ethnographic/anthropolitical interest, but even respect or awe – especially in prologue and epilogue.  Although the beliefs and venerations themselves are dismissed (“the fanciful story of the Moonstone,” “fantastic Indian legend”), there is a note of wonder or admiration at the zeal of the Brahmins:
Powerless to recover their lost treasure by open force, the three guardian priests followed and watched it in disguise.  The generations succeeded each other;…and still, through all chances and changes, the successors of the three guardian priests kept their watch…Time rolled on from the first to the last years of the 18th C. (p. 3)
Association of native with timelessness, eternality (partly fostered by their facelessness – could be new Brahmins, or original ones, so far as the Europeans know; also, no mention of families and procreation, so the implication is eternality through religious zeal).
2.   Curse: also dismissed as superstition, yet the inexplicable mystery of the diamond’s restoration to the temple, after so much time, against the odds.  Beyond the superstitious aspect of the story, there is also the deeper mystery of human vice – the (as it were) “black sheep” problem that recurs in so much Victorian detective fiction.  How do we explain the profound moral difference between a Herncastle and a Lady Verinder, a Franklin and a Godfrey?  Diamond as touchstone of evil in man – perhaps not in any religious sense, but in the (still invisible, not fully comprehended) sense of the flaws and weaknesses in human society.  English MC society struggling to comprehend moral problems that cannot be explained by reference to social values, culture and rationality.
3.   The persistent of Christianity of the novel: not the institutional variety, but a broader and deeper Christianity of “feeling” (which, because it is broadened out of its institutional form, also inevitably becomes more secularized, generalized).
a.   Names: preponderance of Biblical names – Rachel (sheep or lamb), Gabriel (mighty one of God), the footman Samuel (gift of God), Ezra (help, or Yahweh helps).  Even if we dismiss Godfrey’s name as ironic, these other characters’ names seem to point at some Biblical meaning underlying the narrative.  Betteredge gives one clue to this form of Christianity of feeling, referring to Limping Lucy’s over-wrought feeling of injustice for Rosanna: “Here was another of your average good Christians, and here was the usual break-down, consequent on that same average Christianity being pushed too far!” (p. 207).  He refers to Christianity several more times with the same connotations: a moral calling, to respond correctly to others (with forgiveness, acceptance, kindness).  Rachel says “I have sacrificed myself” p. 233.
b.   Plot: read in light of these references, the novel can be seen as a basic morality tale, warning against greed, hypocrisy and cruelty to others (including natives), pointing to the limitations of institutional Christianity, and preaching instead a deeper and more basic moral response that involves love, acceptance, humility –not only at individual level, but at social-national level as well (i.e. to disadvantaged peoples/classes).  Problems are the result of “sin” (murdering natives to steal the diamond; oppressing classes, etc), and the consequences of sin is suffering, often by the innocent (Rachel and Franklin as sacrificial lambs; but also Rosanna and Ezra).
	Also a strange “prophetic” quality: Cuff “turns prophet,” and Gabriel refers to “Cuff’s prophecies of what was to happen” (p. 199, 205); Clack refers to her situation as a “Patmos” (referring to apostle John’s vision in book of Revelations, p. 215), Murthwaite closes the novel with a question that is also part prophesy: “You have lost sight of [the diamond] for ever,” and “So the years pass, and repeat each other; so the same events revolve in the cycles of time” (p. 522).  These “prophetic” hints tie in with the notion of the “Victorian sage,” proclaiming the evils and coming tribulations of society (due to the predominant Victorian anxieties of materialism, class divide, moral failure, industrialization etc).
	Note that these different spiritual dimensions need not be mutually exclusive – indeed, geopolitical fiction seems to rework exclusionary institutional religions into potentially-inclusive spiritual systems: basically, a “curse” accompanying cruel actions, respect or at least interest in other spiritual traditions, and propagating feelings that foster human “mutuality.”
IV.   Geopolitics of wealth: superstition/romance of the diamond should not blind us to the fact that the novel is a story about increasingly trans-national movements of wealth.  Diamond is good symbol of this, precisely because of its fame and notoriety: i.e. the fact that it can be smuggled in and out of countries (up and down India, London to Yorkshire and back, potentially to Amsterdam, back to India) despite its conspicuousness, shows the ease with which wealth crosses national boundaries.  (Also Franklin’s disagreement with the French creditor).  The novel is a fictional account of capital drain, normally from the undeveloped to the developed world, but also involving flows of capital from there (in the whole economy of people associated with the diamond – Godfrey, Luker, the Indians and their white employees, banks).  In this version, the capital drain is miraculously reversed (back to India), but the point is the fluidity of flows of wealth.
	As part of this fluidity, there is also the commodification of relationships and persons.  Interestingly, the diamond’s destabilizing effect is also to cut across racial-social barriers: Rachel is suspected of collaborating with Rosanna, Godfrey associates with Luker, Lady V has to associate with Cuff, the white MC characters become obsessed with the Indians.  But perhaps that’s also to say that capital breaks these barriers by commodifying people and relationships – class/race boundaries seem to become de-signified, because people lose their human individuality, becoming increasingly abstracted and interchangeable functions.  (Godfrey will marry any wealthy woman; Herncastle’s acquisition of the diamond alienates him from his class and pushes him to associate indiscriminately with “the lowest people” who are not specified, simply serving as provocation; a number of characters, from servants like Rosanna and Nancy to the Indians’ hired helpers and even Godfrey’s nameless mistress, tend to be reduced to abstract labour or commodity – problems arise when they refuse to accept this dehumanizing function).
V.   Narrative, Space, and the Wide World: There may be no one “geopolitical narrative form” – nevertheless, we can see that narrative form changes in certain ways (when contrasted with Victorian social realism) that seem to correspond to the changing function and ideology of the geopolitical moment.
1.   Narrative space: crudely put, we see a shift from the authoritative and “filled” nature of the Victorian social realist novel, to textual spaces of various kinds in geopolitical novels.  Again, obvious contrast is with the controlling, assured authorial voice in George Elliot, Jane Austen – a sense that there is no significant epistemological/perspectival gap which isn’t filled (or attempted to be filled) by the author.  In contrast, Moonstone (like many of Collins’ novels) deliberately leaves gaps through:
a.   Basic narrative structure/premise: for a number of characters to write their separate accounts of events some 2 years ago, without referring to the known outcome.  “the idea is that we should all write the story of the Moonstone in turn – as far as our own personal experience extends, and no further” p. 8.  i.e. accounts are limited in space (isolated from each other – obviously brought together as a volume, but each narrative without reference to the others), as well as in time (the event in the moment, without referring to the final results – chiefly the knowledge of who actually took the diamond).
b.   Obvious unreliability of most narrators: not just their constraints within the narrative premise, but also their own biases and limitations (Clack’s self-serving religiosity, Betteredge’s bias towards the Verinders and Franklin, etc).
c.   The obvious gaps caused by glossing over periods of time and events with “nothing…worth recording” p. 53, and by re-creations (e.g. the opium experiment) and memory.
 2.   “Encyclopedic form” (Edward Said’s description of literary modernism): an “utopian project” to seek to come to terms with an increasingly complex universe of things.  On the one hand, the withdrawal of authorial omniscience/control; its place taken by several limited narrators, which can be seen as an “encyclopedic” project, an attempt at being comprehensive, rational, precise, accurate – in short, a “scientific” project for an increasingly complex and difficult-to-know world.
VI.   Moonstone and early Cultural Schizophrenia
Still in vestigial form, in this early geopolitical novel.  But perhaps evident in some parts of the narrative which express a confused blurring of categories/identities/points.  E.g. in Betteredge:
“Here again, I find it impossible to give anything like a clear account of the state of my mind in the interval after Sergeant Cuff had left us.  A curious and stupefying restlessness got possession of me.” (p. 172)
Or Franklin’s assessment of Rachel’s behaviour: “Rachel, properly speaking, is not Rachel, but Somebody Else.  Do I mind being cruelly treated by Somebody Else?” (p. 194).
Or the fundamentally schizophrenic-like moment when he unfolds the nightgown and discovers “myself” to be the thief.
	This early version of cultural schizophrenia closely tied to a society in rapid state of change, the loss of (MC) norms/values, and the uncertainty about individual behaviour and identity in such conditions.  (Later schizophrenia less ostentatiously an effect or symbol of social change, and more apparently a “universal” condition of modernity, as D and G suggest?)