Wednesday, August 20, 2008

demon illegibliity

Charles Dickens to W. Wilkie Collins

Gad's Hill Place,
Higham by Rochester, Kent,
Monday, Twenty-third September, 1867.

My dear Wilkie, ---Like you I am working with snail-like slowness. My American possibility* divides my mind so incongruously with this occupation.

But I think I have a good idea. I send it you with a view to your at odd times Thinking-out of the last Act. When Vendale is at the last pass of the murderous business on the Simplon, he conscientiously says some broken words to Obenreizer to the effect: "If it be possible that you are the man--as I have lately thought--do so and so. Villain and murderer as you are, my trust to my dead friend remains unchanged." This is so brokenly said that Obenreizer supposes it refers to some obscurity in Vendale's birth--not his own--and so goes on to build up Nemesis.

I have already got Vendale haunted by the possibility that Obenreizer is the man.

I will write again by or before Friday. I see a great chance for Act III. out of this leaving of Act II. Don't you .
Ever affec'ly, C. D.

The Demon Illegibility has possession of me.

*[Note: Before Dickens sailed for his second American visit, in November, 1867, with George Dolby as his business agent, he gave Collins some assistance in making a stage version of No Thoroughfare for Fechter. This is the only one of Dickens's works in the dramatization of which he had any hand, except The Tale of Two Cities, the production of which at the Lyceum, under the management of Madame Celeste in 1860, he supervised and superintended. Fechter made a great success in the part of Obenreizer, in London, in the winter of 1867-68, and later in Paris, and in the United States.]

-from the Letters of Charles Dickens to Wilkie Collins edited by Laurence Hutton (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1891) p. 149-50.

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