When I heard “The Moonstone” was going to be adapted into a Television series to be screened on BBC One this Christmas, my mind went blank. Why did I not hear about this novel before? “The Moonstone” is one of Wilkie Collins‘s major publications, but it isn’t exactly the most popular novel in Britain. Far from it. Recent studies proved this 1868 novel to be on the rise in terms of popularity. Why? It is a detective novel, and notably the first of its kind, which means the recent public interest in themes such as crime investigation might have something to do with it.
Despite having published notable major novels such as “The Woman In White” (1860) or “Armadale” (1866), “The Moonstone” was to be the last popular novel of its genre for Collins. After that, he mostly focused his attention to social or religious topics as in “The Law and the Lady” (1875) and “The Black Robe” (1881). To this day, “The Moonstone” itself is mostly just known in the British Isles and nowhere else.
But is television needed to boost up the public’s interest in a book that seemed to have been forgotten? Yes, visual is important and it surely serves as a major trigger. But is there a way a book can be brought back to the masses after such long time without the contribution of a visual entanglement? Why not. Society has often proved to be a cyclical system: things fall out of fashion and back in people’s hearts in no time. Same goes for books, and specific genres that seemed to have fallen into the oblivion of time are now back in the shelves. The secondary contribution to the return of a long-lost book (primary being television, as stated before), is the academic interest. Groups of PhD students, professors, members of associations related to reading and culture are an infinite source of energy to the literary world, granting beneficial effects to each book and author that a new perspective on critical analysis and study may take into account. Social networking completes the picture, spreading names and titles that seemed to have disappeared, awakening the interest of the casual reader, arousing curiosity and spreading the word. Whenever the name of an old author becomes digital, society gains a new cultural resource for its present and its future.
The upcoming screening of a new adaptation of “The Moonstone” for television will probably allow the book to jump away from the dusty shelves for good. A three-part series will air on BBC One this Christmas, fifteen years after the novel’s most recent television adaptation and shortly after BBC Radio 4’s serialisation.