NOTE ON THE TEXT

An early draft manuscript of the novel is extant (British Library Add. MS. 41060, folios 1-86). It is not printer's copy and therefore one or more lost manuscripts stand between it and the first edition. On the verso of two manuscript pages Collins jotted four alternative titles: Basil; or Pages from the Story of a Young Man's Life, Basil; a Young Man's Confession, Basil; or Leaves from the History of a Young Man's Life, and Basil; or The Love Secret.

Basil; A Story of Modern Life was published in three volumes in 1852 by Richard Bentley, London. Volume One contains a Letter of Dedication and Part I, Chs. I-XIII; Volume Two contains Part II, Chs II-VII and Part III, Chs. I-IV; Volume Three contains Part III, Chs. I-IV [sic], Journal and Letters I-III. Basil was reprinted in 1856, reset, in one volume, by James Blackwood, London, without any alterations. Collins carefully revised Basil--eliminating the subtitle-- for publication in 1862, in one volume, by Sampson Low, Son & Co., London. Part I, Ch. VII conflates the first edition's Part I, Chs. VII and VIII; Part I, Chs. IX-XIII are renumbered VIII-XII. The first edition's Volume Three, Part III, Chs. I-IV are renumbered Part III, Chs. V-VIII. The text of this World's Classics edition is that of the 1862 revised edition, reprinted from the same plates as 'a new edition' in 1873 by Smith, Elder.

Collins's 1862 revisions involved over a thousand deletions--of single words, phrases, and paragraphs, and of page-length and longer passages, including two lengthy scenes (on the omnibus just before Basil sees Margaret for the first time, and when Basil walks through London awaiting Margaret and Mannion's departure from her aunt's party). Only very occasionally is anything substituted for these deletions, and there are no expansions of text. Characteristically, Collins removed items from a doubled or trebled phrase or clause, a common rhetorical formula in the first

-xxiii-

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Basil
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • Note on the Text xxiii
  • Select Bibliography xxv
  • A Chronology of Wilkie Collins xxvii
  • Letter of Dedication. xxxix
  • Part I. I 1
  • Part Ii. 101
  • Part Iii. 168
  • Explanatory Notes 345
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