The Frozen Deep and Other Tales (1892)

The Frozen Deep and Other Tales (1892) - Wilkie Collins [These notes were made in 1985 - I read the book in the Chatto & Windus 1892 edition:]. The title story of this volume is a later adaptation of the 1857 play, and is a marked improvement over it in several ways. The female characters are reduced from four to two, and their sentimental attachments to the men on the voyage made clearer. The prognosticating ability, tho' not done away with, is at least assigned to the heroine instead of an old witch. And Wardour's moment of truth, which for dramatic reasons had been left unshown in the play, is given a chapter here, although Collins, trying to have the best of both worlds, leaves his decision on a cliff-hanger. What it does not have, alas! is any fuller bodying-out of the emotions involved; I had hoped that the narrator would be more expansive than the dramatist, but the principal scenes in the story are more or less carried by the dialogue. The second story, "The Dream Woman," is a nice little murder mystery, told in sequential narratives, in which Collins tries to suggest something of the supernatural around his otherwise entirely explicable events. (The Dream Woman eventually kills her unfortunate husband in a way that he has dreamed years before). The last story is of the murder-that-never-took-place variety, the ultimate ancestor, I'm sure, of that rather dramatic Star Trek episode where a discontented crewman stages his own murder to revenge himself on the Captain. Here the disappointed lover John Jago disappears, throwing the blame on two brothers, one of whom looks like being successful. The twist is that our narrator finally gets the girl.