Anthony Trollope Facts
Professor John Sutherland approaches the novel in terms of its contemporaneity, depiction of reform and handling of dilemma. Anthony Trollope. Victorian Britain. Explore further Related articles.
Power in Can You Forgive Her? View all related articles. Trollope's Eustace Diamonds. Front cover to John Caldigate by Trollope. Framley Parsonage by Trollope, with illustrations by Millais. When he was 19 years old, he went to work in London as a clerk in the Post Office.
In Trollope volunteered to become a postal inspector in Ireland. He then took up hunting and followed the sport for many years. In he married Rose Heseltine; they had two sons. None of these books was successful. From to Trollope inspected post offices in southern England. In Salisbury in he conceived the idea for The Warden , a novel about clerical life in a cathedral town, the first of his Barsetshire novels.
It was followed by Barchester Towers , in which two of the series's most popular figures—the Bishop and Mrs.
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Proudie—made their first appearance. These wise, humorous, and gentle novels presented the Victorian middle class without the preaching of Charles Kingsley's Alton Locke and other "sociological" novels and without the sensational events recorded in novels by Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, and Charles Reade. Many of the Barsetshire characters appear in more than one novel, growing older from novel to novel and revealing new but not inconsistent aspects of their personalities. Barsetshire itself was so vividly imagined that readers have published maps of this make-believe country.
The series may have ended because Trollope's readers let him know they were growing tired of it. From these journeys he developed stories and travel books. In Trollope was promoted to chief inspector of the Post Office, and he then moved his family from Ireland to England. In he met Kate Field, a young American with whom he had a fatherly relationship, and William Makepeace Thackeray, whose novels he admired and about whom he wrote a memoir Thackeray, Wherever he went, he kept at his writing.
In all, he wrote 47 novels, in addition to short stories, travel books, hunting sketches, biographies, and other volumes. Can You Forgive Her? The characters in this series develop as they do in the Barsetshire novels, especially Plantagenet Palliser, who is seen as a young man in the first novel and as a widower in the last. This novel is a scathing satire of England in the s, greedy for money while on the edge of moral bankruptcy. This novel seems to reveal a Trollope different from the author of the Barsetshire stories. The author, however, is the man he always was; his story is now about a different England.
Therefore he has made these personages real to us. Among all our novelists his style is the purest, as to my ear it is also the most harmonious. Sometimes it is disfigured by a slight touch of affectation, by little conceits which smell of the oil—but the language is always lucid. The reader, without labour, knows what he means, and knows all that he means. As well as I can remember, he deals with no episodes.
I think that any critic, examining his work minutely, would find that every scene, and every part of every scene, adds something to the clearness with which the story is told. Among all his stories there is not one which does not leave on the mind a feeling of distress that women should ever be immodest or men dishonest—and of joy that women should be so devoted and men so honest.
How we hate the idle selfishness of Pendennis, the worldliness of Beatrix, the craft of Becky Sharpe! The hatred of evil and love of good can hardly have come upon so many readers without doing much good. In the plots which he conceived, and in the language which he used; I do not know that there is any perceptible change; but in The Virginians and in Philip the reader is introduced to no character with which he makes a close and undying acquaintance. And this, I have no doubt, is so because Thackeray himself had no such intimacy. His mind had come to be weary of that fictitious life which is always demanding the labour of new creation, and he troubled himself with his two Virginians and his Philip only when he was seated at his desk.
At the present moment George Eliot is the first of English novelists, and I am disposed to place her second of those of my time. She is best known to the literary world as a writer of prose fiction, and not improbably whatever of permanent fame she may acquire will come from her novels. But the nature of her intellect is very far removed indeed from that which is common to the tellers of stories. Her imagination is no doubt strong, but it acts in analysing rather than in creating. Everything that comes before her is pulled to pieces so that the inside of it shall be seen, and be seen if possible by her readers as clearly as by herself.
This searching analysis is carried so far that, in studying her latter writings, one feels oneself to be in company with some philosopher rather than with a novelist. I doubt whether any young person can read with pleasure either Felix Holt , Middlemarch , or Daniel Deronda. I know that they are very difficult to many that are not young. Her personifications of character have been singularly terse and graphic, and from them has come her great hold on the public—though by no means the greatest effect which she has produced.
Autobiography of Anthony Trollope
The lessons which she teaches remain, though it is not for the sake of the lessons that her pages are read. I cannot say quite so much for any of those in her later works, because in them the philosopher so greatly overtops the portrait-painter, that, in the dissection of the mind, the outward signs seem to have been forgotten. In her, as yet, there is no symptom whatever of that weariness of mind which, when felt by the reader, induces him to declare that the author has written himself out. It is not from decadence that we do not have another Mrs. Poyser, but because the author soars to things which seem to her to be higher than Mrs.
It is, I think, the defect of George Eliot that she struggles too hard to do work that shall be excellent. She lacks ease. Latterly the signs of this have been conspicuous in her style, which has always been and is singularly correct, but which has become occasionally obscure from her too great desire to be pungent. It is impossible not to feel the struggle, and that feeling begets a flavour of affectation. In Daniel Deronda , of which at this moment only a portion has been published, there are sentences which I have found myself compelled to read three times before I have been able to take home to myself all that the writer has intended.
Perhaps I may be permitted here to say, that this gifted woman was among my dearest and most intimate friends. There can be no doubt that the most popular novelist of my time—probably the most popular English novelist of any time—has been Charles Dickens. He has now been dead nearly six years, and the sale of his books goes on as it did during his life.
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The certainty with which his novels are found in every house—the familiarity of his name in all English-speaking countries—the popularity of such characters as Mrs. Gamp, Micawber, and Pecksniff, and many others whose names have entered into the English language and become well-known words—the grief of the country at his death, and the honours paid to him at his funeral,—all testify to his popularity. Since the last book he wrote himself, I doubt whether any book has been so popular as his biography by John Forster.
There is no withstanding such testimony as this. Such evidence of popular appreciation should go for very much, almost for everything, in criticism on the work of a novelist. It might of course be objected to this, that though the books have pleased they have been injurious, that their tendency has been immoral and their teaching vicious; but it is almost needless to say that no such charge has ever been made against Dickens.
His teaching has ever been good. From all which, there arises to the critic a question whether, with such evidence against him as to the excellence of this writer, he should not subordinate his own opinion to the collected opinion of the world of readers. To me it almost seems that I must be wrong to place Dickens after Thackeray and George Eliot , knowing as I do that so great a majority put him above those authors. My own peculiar idiosyncrasy in the matter forbids me to do so. I do acknowledge that Mrs. Gamp, Micawber, Pecksniff, and others have become household words in every house, as though they were human beings; but to my judgment they are not human beings, nor are any of the characters human which Dickens has portrayed.
Nor is the pathos of Dickens human. It is stagey and melodramatic. But it is so expressed that it touches every heart a little. There is no real life in Smike. His misery, his idiotcy, his devotion for Nicholas, his love for Kate, are all overdone and incompatible with each other. But still the reader sheds a tear. Every reader can find a tear for Smike.
He has known how to draw his lines broadly, so that all should see the colour. He, too, in his best days, always lived with his characters—and he, too, as he gradually ceased to have the power of doing so, ceased to charm. Though they are not human beings, we all remember Mrs. Gamp and Pickwick. The Boffins and Veneerings do not, I think, dwell in the minds of so many. It is jerky, ungrammatical, and created by himself in defiance of rules—almost as completely as that created by Carlyle.
To readers who have taught themselves to regard language, it must therefore be unpleasant. But the critic is driven to feel the weakness of his criticism, when he acknowledges to himself—as he is compelled in all honesty to do—that with the language, such as it is, the writer has satisfied the great mass of the readers of his country.
Both these great writers have satisfied the readers of their own pages; but both have done infinite harm by creating a school of imitators. No young novelist should ever dare to imitate the style of Dickens.