Fifth Monthly Number: Case Notes

We’ve launched our latest case notes this week, and time again to consider what are the main elements that impact on the story this month. As Jonathan has argued here, this is the month in which Jasper’s love for Rosa becomes explicit, and with it his villainy. His attempt to woo Rosa is terrifying in its perversity, the intermingling of threats with amorous advances makes you wonder whether Jasper ever truly expects a positive answer, hence that key idea “I don’t ask for your love, give me yourself and your hatred and that pretty rage”. Alys’s illustration this month has also confirmed for me how out of place Tartar’s scene is – in a good way. Among all the doom and gloom here is this very cheery meeting of two young men, a necessary break from the darker tones of the month’s installment and a possible gleam of hope for the future. I also find it interesting that Tartar’s introduction occurs after Edwin’s departure, and to what extent this new young man is supposed to replace the previous one in the story arc (at any rate, he and Neville have had an entire conversation without a single wine glass being smashed, so that’s promising). 

But for me personally the big development this week is Dick Datchery, a gloriously madcap figure from the very beginning, and one that again, like Tartar, offers a lighter tone and promise of new developments. This is of course simultaneously his saving grace and his downfall in subsequent treatments, as solutionists have pondered on the character without the length of surviving description which other characters have to tie them down.The full extent of these possibilities will be realised in just ten days time when we release not only month six, but the full Drood Inquiry site as well, complete with all the basic ideas which have been suggested over the decades for what might happen in parts 7-11, and inevitably as the end approaches our thoughts shift from what has been written to what has not – with only one month left what further seeds will be planted, or ideas confirmed, before we leave Dickens and enter a world of speculation?

Published by Pete Orford

I'm course director of the MA in Charles Dickens Studies at the University of Buckingham in conjunction with the Dickens Museum in London. I am currently editing Pictures from Italy for the Oxford Dickens collection, and I'm Chief Investigator for The Drood Inquiry ( My book "The Mystery of Edwin Drood: Charles Dickens’s unfinished novel and our endless attempts to end it" was published by Pen and Sword Books in 2018.

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  1. I cannot for the moment find A reply space on the Drood Enquiry website. I would respectfully point out that Tartar appears one chapter before Datchry not after.

    1. How mortifying! You’re absolutely right of course – this is a slip of the keyboard I’m afraid; the text should say that Datchery appears before Tartar *meets and agrees to help Grewgious*. A corrected version has been sent to our webmaster and will be uploaded with the next wave of updates – thank you for spotting this Trevor.

      Also, a contact page is available on the Drood Inquiry site on the About section, so do, everyone, please send through any suggestions for improvement.

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