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19. CHAPTER XIX - "RALPH THE HEIR"--"THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS"--"LADY ANNA"--"AUSTRALIA" (continued)
But The Eustace Diamonds achieved the success which it certainly did attain, not as a love-story, but as a record of a cunning little woman of pseudo-fashion, to whom, in her cunning, there came a series of adventures, unpleasant enough in themselves, but pleasant to the reader. As I wrote the book, the idea constantly presented itself to me that Lizzie Eustace was but a second Becky Sharpe; but in planning the character I had not thought of this, and I believe that Lizzie would have been just as she is though Becky Sharpe had never been described. The plot of the diamond necklace is, I think, well arranged, though it produced itself without any forethought. I had no idea of setting thieves after the bauble till I had got my heroine to bed in the inn at Carlisle; nor of the disappointment of the thieves, till Lizzie had been wakened in the morning with the news that her door had been broken open. All these things, and many more, Wilkie Collins would have arranged before with infinite labour, preparing things present so that they should fit in with things to come. I have gone on the very much easier plan of making everything as it comes fit in with what has gone before. At any rate, the book was a success, and did much to repair the injury which I felt had come to my reputation in the novel-market by the works of the last few years. I doubt whether I had written anything so successful as The Eustace Diamonds. since The Small House at Allington. I had written what was much better,--as, for instance, Phineas Finn and Nina Balatka; but that is by no means the same thing.
I also left behind, in a strong box, the manuscript of Phineas Redux, a novel of which I have already spoken, and which I subsequently sold to the proprietors of the Graphic newspaper. The editor of that paper greatly disliked the title, assuring me that the public would take Redux for the gentleman's surname,--and was dissatisfied with me when I replied that I had no objection to them doing so. The introduction of a Latin word, or of a word from any other language, into the title of an English novel is undoubtedly in bad taste; but after turning the matter much over in my own mind, I could find no other suitable name.
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