The American Senator
Niagara Falls, mid-19th century print
In March 1999 a group of us on Trollope-l began a reading and discussion of The
American Senator (1876). We read this book as a single one and during most of it I took it
upon myself to write a faciliating posting each week. This was a lively discussion where we canvassed much that is of vivid interest in this novel. It's not a novel which is sufficiently known or paid read with care. It has much to say to us today about human nature as it manifests itself through society.
Contributors included: Janice Durante, Sigmund Eisner, Laurie Guilfoyle, R. J. Keefe, Penny Klein, Marcella MacCarthy, Patricia Maroney, Carol McGuirk, John Mize, Ellen Moody, Judith Moore, Virginia Preston, Teresa Ransom, Angela Richardson, Jill Spriggs, Gene Stratton, Judy Warner, Joan Wall, Frazer Wright.
Photograph of a hunt in progress, circa 1910
Frederick Walker (1840-75), Spring, 1864
- February 20th: Introduction: The International Theme: British and American Ocean-Crossing; Elias Gotobed: Naif in a Satire; Perceptions & Personal Life & Political Situation; The Specific Moment and Personal Context
- March 7th: Chapters 1-7: A Landscape and Genealogy; "billycock" defined; Home-y World; Arabella as by James Tissot;
More Class Scrutiny & Hierarchies and Costs of Fox Hunting (A Careful Examination of Class
and Study in Materialism); A Genealogical Chart; Goarley and Gotobed (The innards of British
versus American culture and mores); Luxuriating in Detail; Larry Twentyman; Early hunting
scene unexpected; Gotobed ridiculous; Hunting Hypocracy; : Sympathies with Goarly and
Reginald Morton; Fox-Hunting in other books; Surtees; World War One Memoirs; Fox-Hunting;
More on the Genealogical Chart; Why All This Detail?; Hunting as a Bloodsport; Bloodsports;
Transgressive Women Hunt.
- March 14th: Chapters 8-13: A Walk in the Wood; Hunting a Bloodsport and
a World where no one reads (Why the Animus Against the Erudite, Scientist or Reader);
Digging out the fox and other queries; Arabella, Trollope's niece, our contemporary; A New
Zealander, Satiric Naif; AT's depiction of Americans; The Lady and the Fox; Dillsborough, Where
Is It?; Five Reviews and a Shocker; Charles Reade; Mostly on Trollope's Reputation, the
Senator, and Trollope's Americans.
- March 21st: Chapters 14-20: Where Is Dillsborough?; Goarly's Rights, or Whose Property Is It?; Aspects of Trollope's
Humour; Arabella; Love and Hypocrisy; Lies and Power; Wit & Pathos; Courtship and Marriage in The
American Senator (Mary Masters and Arabella Trefoil Compared); Sour Grapes
(Trollope's Bias on Behalf of Aristocrats); Margaret Oliphant, Charlotte Bronte & Anthony
Trollope; Could Dillsborough be Doncaster?; Doncaster as Dillsborough - NEVER!
- March 28th: Chapters 21-26: Arabella as a Tissot; Trollope's Taste in Women; The Women Paralleled; As a Serialized Novel and the Original Illustrations.
Sir Henry Henshall (1856-1928), Behind the Bar, 1882
- April 4th: Chapters 27-32
: Sympathy for Major Caneback?; Minor Career Men; Wonderful Bird!; The Heroes, the Animals,
and the Outsider; Major Caneback's Cruelty to Horses; Trollope's Use of Letters; Gotobed & the Other Characters; So many unlikable
Characters; Lord Rufford; They Said Go West, Young Man, and AT Did: Gotobed a Version of
Trollope Himself; Analysis/Comparison of English v Americans at Heart of Book; Senator
Gotobed; The AS: Loving as a Lord.
- April 11th: Chapters 33-38: The AS: Another Arabella; Names with "A," Huge Sums & Slaughters; Serpentine
Self-Directed Spite; Parallel Plots; Mistletoe & Trefoil; Shooting; Characters who can and cannot
know themselves; Many complex characters in this book; Racy Lord Rufford and Arabella at
Mistletoe; Arabella as a Superior version (as a character) to Becky Sharp; Trollope and Austen:
Arabella Trefoil and Austen's heroines; Arabella Trefoil, Becky Sharp, Lizzie Eustace and Mary
Crawford; Different Yardsticks; Arabella Doesn't Pretend to Herself; Portrait of Arabella, a 19th
C. English Ideal or a Frigid "Big Blonde?"; Arabella humble flower or weed (as Trefoil); The
Desperate huntress; Arabella: Personality Disorder or Self-Contempt?; The Third Rate Woman
who Marries the Third Rate Male: The upper class disguised version of the myth of the pariah-slut?; The Pleasure of Power; Power-Seeking in Trollope; The Relationship of Power and Fear;
The Drive for Power Comes from Fear of One's Own Insignificance?; The Prime
Minister and Fear of Death.
- April 18th: Chapters 39-44: Trollope's wit; The Rich Center of the Book (The Alien/American Among the Brits); Mary Masters
and her Father/Mary Masters and Reginald Morton; The Hardships of Arabella's Life; Back to
Arabella; Compassion for Arabella; Arabella's Honesty; Negative Capability in Trollope; AT:
Anton Trendellson and Arabella Trefoil: Mischievous Self-reflexive joking?; The AS:
Go West, Young Woman (Arabella Characterized as an American); The AS:
Arabella's Anger; Arabella as the Poor Aristocrat; Arabella as a Tragic Figure; Arabella Again;
Lord Rufford not such a fool? and Mounser Green the Man; Arabella the Unhappy Addict; The
Ennui of it all; Arabella Poor Thing with no time at all even in small ways.
- April 25th: Chapters 45-50: Hunting just like the gentle jousting in Ivanhoe; Sir George and Lord Rufford;
Letters as Actors; Larry Twentyman and The Hunt; Arabella a good wife for Rufford?; Cruelty to
and Cruel Women in Trollope; Mrs Masters and Reginal Morton; Mary Masters and Arabella a
Study in Contrasts; Why is Larry Twentyman not a Gentleman?
- May 2nd: Chapters 51-56: The Hero of the Book: Senator Elias Gotobed; Telling Truths (or, That'd be telling); The Title;
The Senator on Strikes; Gastric Fever & the Wretchedness of Larry; The Title, the world of
Dillsborough once again; & the Senator as Anti-Hero with Larry Twentyman his contrasting mirror.
- May 9th: Chapters 57-62: You can prove anything if you get to make up the evidence (Trollope and stories which support
Burke and are anything but feminist); Parallels between John & Reginald Morton and Elias
Gotobed; Mr and Mrs Masters, A Victorian Portrait of a Typical Marriage: Today Mrs Masters
would not get away with her bullying; today she could divorce this "unsuccessful man" and be
admired (for all we know); A Victorian Portrait of Trollope's own marriage?; Dominatrix; 'Family
Values' -- Pathologies, anyone?; Mary and Larry; Women characters as Subjects Rather than
- May 16th: Chapters 63-68: Motes and Beams; The Threads are Winding Up; Arabella's last stand (True Grit and Hurtle-like);
Who is the Hero? the Heroine?; Arabella and Lord Rufford; Another Take on Goarly (from
Godwin's Caleb Williams); You see Scrobby happened to displease my lord (or, Off with Him to Botany Bay); Reginald and Mary; Dillsborough and Columbine High
- May 23rd: Chapters 69-74: Arabella "instigated by the true feminine Medea feeling"; Large Reaches and Lunacy; Just
Deserts?; Blood Sports; Improbable Switch in Reginald Morton's Character; The Validation of the
Social Order; Mr Masters is Made Happy and Triumphant at Last; Gentlemanness (Larry
Twentyman once again); Genealogies: Blood and Upbringing; Rank and Sex (The Match
between Reginald and Mary).
- May 30th: Chapters 75-80: The Thug Element in Manliness; How Much Did We Like It?; The American Senator at Home; A
Masterly 19th century Novel; The Titular Character and Close; The American
Senator as serial writing; Trollope's Confidence; Immediate Circumstances for the Writing of The American Senator; On Serial Instalments in Trollope in General.
Embarkation of General M'Clernand's Brigade at Cairo: "The generals and
commodores were gone up the Ohio river and up the Tennessee in an expedition with gun-boats
. . . " Trollope's North America, Harper's Weekly, VI
(February 1, 1862), 72
Contact Ellen Moody.
Page Last Updated 7 August 2004