I am asked to tell the story of the Diamond, and, instead of that, I have been telling the story of my own self. Curious, and quite beyond me to account for. I wonder whether the gentlemen who make a business and a living out of writing books, ever find their own selves getting in the way of their subjects, like me?
Betteredge writes this quotation in Chapter II of the First Period. It is part of a larger motif of the First Period in which Gabriel dramatizes the difficulty of writing narrative. This is a tongue-in-cheek reference by Collins to his own (difficult) craft of novel writing. However, Gabriel's admission that the narrative of the self gets in the way of his narrative about the diamond is part of a larger theme throughout The Moonstone in which many of the narratives seem to deal on the level of subtext with the creation of a self. We read all of the narratives with one eye to the events told and one eye to how the telling of the events gives us information about the teller. Finally, the larger project of the assembled narratives is to fill in the gap of Franklin Blake's self—the part of his own history that he doesn't remember. In this sense, all of the narratives contribute to the reconstruction of Franklin as a solid, respectable self, a self of the community.