Synopses & Reviews
General Editor: DAVID TROTTER
The Oxford Popular Fiction series introduces or reintroduces bestselling works of British and American fiction that have helped define new styles and genres, and that continue to resonate in the prototypical, controversial, groundbreaking, and sometimes notorious fiction of which classics are made. Complete with critical introductions, the Oxford Popular Fiction series is a personal library that lies at the heart of British and American popular culture.
The Wrong Box (1889) is one of Stevenson's strangest works. Written with his stepson Lloyd Osborne, it is a masterpiece of black comedy, turning on mistaken identity, the disappearance of a corpse, and several makeshift coffins. V.S. Pritchett described it as "a farce that slips down the throat with the nicety of an oyster," and, according to E.F. Benson, it is "perhaps the most superb extravaganza in the language." In this intriguing work, the Finsbury family has long been involved in a Tontine--a scheme in which subscribers invest money in a fund which them falls to the last survivor. Now there are only two aged uncles between Morris and John Finsbury and their fortune. A railway accident appears to dispose of one, and then the farce begins. In this eccentric and brilliantly plotted story, the authors not only extended the boundaries of good taste, but also satirized the popular Railway Novel genre, perplexing many Victorian readers.