The Dead Alive and A Fair Penitent

by Wilkie Collins (Author)
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"The Dead Alive": A fitting companion to The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins produced one of the first, if not the first, court room drama in whose footsteps a myriad of subsequent authors have followed. Based on a true story, Collins adds a narrator and a confidant but few other embellishments illustrating how easily the cause of justice can be perverted. Along the way he casts a few jibes at "Americans" and Christianity in a moderately melodramatic tale that progresses to its inevitable conclusion of a wrongful conviction. "A Fair Penitent": The short story is written in the form of an editor presenting a manuscript by a former actress of the Paris stage in the early 18th century. This actress, a Mademoiselle Gautier, realises that her life of pleasure and vice is headed for a bad end and so she decides to enter a convent. Her desire to completely repent takes her from the rather cozy quarters of one order to the more austere regimen of the Carmelites. An encounter with a Trappist monk leader makes the idea of flagellation sound like the perfect recipe. (Goodreads)

Publication date
February 17, 2021
Page count
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