A chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and as this little book is written both for the student who is steeped in Dickensian lore and for the man who may have read neither " The Mystery of Edwin Drood" nor any of the many solutions of it which have appeared since the great author's death, I have ventured to include in my little treatise not only a synopsis of the story itself, but also a short account of the principal points in some of the more prominent of the suggested terminations.
By the sudden death of the author, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" was brought to an abrupt conclusion at a most tantalizingly interesting point, where it seemed as if some of the loose threads of the plot were about to be gathered together. And however satisfactory any solution may appear to writer or reader, however reverently the attempt at such solution may be approached, however much one may surround oneself with the Dickens atmosphere in order to try to discover what, under a given set of circumstances, Dickens might have done, "The Mystery of Edwin Drood" must always remain a mystery, buried under that plain slab in Westminster Abbey.
Dickens died while he was writing this book, and the story itself reeks of the charnel house and the tomb, of coffins, of crypts, of epitaphs, of monumental masons, and of the finding of the remains of the dead-and-gone potentates of the Church. That Dickens was a believer in the idea that forebodings precede death we can see from the following words in "Martin Chuzzlewit":—
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