Date: Sat, 28 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Nuremberg
Our five week discussion of Linda Tressel begins tomorrow.
Built on both banks of the river Pegnitz, Nuremberg's population increased after 1062 when Henry IV gave it the right to hold a fair and coin money. It was very important as an arts and science center in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries but began to decline in importance in commerce after the discovery of America and the circumnavigation of Africa. Due to loss of trade and problems maintaining its neutrality Nuremberg's population of over 45,000 in 1620 dropped almost in half.
Nuremberg, almost entirely Protestant, became part of Bavaria on September 8, 1806. Its population was then 25,200. Its commerce and trade began to revive after the fall of Napoleon. Now part of a Catholic country, the first Catholic parish was established in 1810.
Railroads further aided in Nuremberg's commercial recovery and by 1852 the population had grown to 53,638.
Begun in 1867, the year Trollope retired from the Post Office, Linda Tressel is set in 1862 - 1863.
If anyone has an edition without notes, let me know and I will post the notes from my World's Classics edition weekly.
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter 1: Setting and Characters
There is an island in the Pegnitz River where it flows through the town of Nuremberg whereon is located a small red house with three gables which has been in the family of Linda's father for many generations. When the orphaned Linda is six years of age her maternal Aunt Charlotte Staubach, now widowed, comes from her home in Cologne to care for Linda.
Other occupants include the long-time servant, Tetchen and Peter Steinmarc, a clerk under Linda's father who was residing in the garret at that time. Fourteen years later, Peter now holds the position Linda's father held as clerk to the City Magistrates and has moved to the choice rooms on the first floor. The rent he pays is necessary to supplement the small income of Aunt Charlotte.
Linda loves her aunt but after being at school realizes that her aunt is very strict in her religion, more strict than is pleasant to her.
Over the years Peter has become an advisor to Aunt Charlotte even though he is not as religious as she would prefer. It is a surprise to her when Peter proposes. She mentions her husband of only two years with a tear in her eye and then suggests that Peter could marry Linda.
Peter at nearly fifty years old had never even considered marriage to Linda, now twenty, but once the idea has been placed in his mind, he very quickly begins to think "why not"? He does have a vague suspicion that Linda has already given her heart elsewhere but it would be just a youthful fancy. "It would be very nice to be the husband of a pretty, gay, sweet-tempered, joyous young girl," not to mention that she is the owner of the house.
Charlotte, upon reflection, is horrified at her own suggestion and almost takes back the offer. But then she concludes the marriage would be for the good of Linda's soul.
Peter and Charlotte decide that Charlotte should be the one to tell Linda with Peter saying: "She owes you obedience my friend, and she owes me none, as yet."
Date: Sun, 29 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter 1: Aunt Charlotte: First Impressions
I really liked Aunt Charlotte. Even when she suggested that Linda should be the wife of Peter. I felt it was just something she blurted out because it would secure the orphaned Linda in life, have her married to a steady man and financially secure.
Then she was recalling her own younger days and her marriage amd I thought she would change her mind. But when she decided that it would be good for Linda's soul to marry her to a man distasteful to her-- well, my feelings are wavering.
And Peter, when he added the "as yet" to the fact that Linda owed him no obedience. I realize that was the custom in those days for wives to obey their husbands, but still to hear him say it right out loud, argh.
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter 1: A red house and a sore thumb
"In Nuremberg there is no possession so much coveted and so dearly loved as that of the house in which the family lives...," and "...in Nuremberg it is the religion of the community that no house shall fall into decay."
From my knowledge of Americans of German descent, I can vouch for all those sentiments. Having lived together for 14 years, the red house residents do form a "family," and I, too, have to admire Aunt Charlotte and Peter Steinmarc for seeing to it that the red house keeps its bright redness. There is a glue which holds all together, and I can understand why Aunt Charlotte wants to make it a permanent arrangement. The use of force, though, goes beyond the limit, and it's not just the force that Aunt Charlotte uses. Trollope uses "red house" over and over again, and I guess we're supposed to equate red house with Linda herself. The red house on a little island in the middle of the river is bound to attract attention most of which is unwanted by Linda.
"Linda...was... targed more strictly in the reading of godly books."
"Targed" sticks out like a sore thumb, here---I had to look it up. My handy dictionary gives something about a shield which doesn't fit. A larger dictionary gave the Trollope citation above, and said that it means: "to keep in strict order, look after strictly." The interesting thing is that Trollope's "targe" comes from an unknown source with the meaning "to beat, to thrash." Trollope developes the crushing idea later. Dagny, does the OWC edition have a note on "targed"?
PS Trollope is also cited for "targe" meaning "to question closely, cross examine" from Phineas Finn.
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter 1: "targed"
Thank you for your work on targed, Richard. Interesting the various ways you found that Trollope used targe.
It is not mentioned in the World's Classics edition I have. In the same paragraph it chose to mention "bairns" which probably everyone knows by now as a Scots word for small children.
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressell: Chapter 2: The Harassment Begins; A mean-faced old man
Chapter 2 focuses largely on Charlotte's talk with Linda. After much hedging and seeming affection Charlotte finally mentions that as Linda's guardian she thinks it is time for Linda to be married. Linda flatly refuses even before she knows the identity of the would-be husband. When Linda quietens down for a moment, she is told it is to be Peter Steinmarc.
We have a truly depressing portrait of Peter painted by Linda: . . . that mean-faced old man, with his snuffy fingers, and his few straggling hairs brushed over his bald pate, with his big shoes spreading here and there because of his corns, and his ugly, loose, square, snuffy coat, and his old hat which he had worn so long that she never liked to touch it . . .
This sent me thumbing through chapter 1 for another description of Peter, but all I found was his own comment that he was good-looking considering his age. I didn't notice a description of Peter by Charlotte. So I'm not sure he is quite as bad as Linda is making out, although he is certainly old compared to Linda, approximately thirty years older.
Linda now goes outdoors and while leaning on the gate is approached by Fanny, her long time friend who lives opposite. Fanny is soon to be married and hopes that Linda will be allowed to come to her wedding. When Fanny notices that Linda is crying she asks what is wrong but Linda tells her nothing in particular and runs indoors.
I don't know if Trollope had a special motive in giving Linda's very happy friend his mother's name.
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter 3: Ludovic
In Chapter 3 we get the background of Peter's young cousin, Ludovic. He is currently in ill favor with Peter and Charlotte but during the days when he came to visit he and Linda saw much of each other. More than Charlotte cared for as she had refused him as a tenant in the garret of the "red" house.
I had thought that the young man who had captured Linda's interest was a friend of Fanny's but I see now that it is Ludovic. Actually at first I thought there were two young men.
Charlotte is reading her religious books and Linda is day-dreaming and watching out the window for a glimpse of Ludovic who now works at the warehouse across the river. When Peter enters, Charlotte leaves although Linda requests that she not do so.
Of course Charlotte knows that Peter is here to forward his suit. Peter took great care with his appearance for all the good it could do. He is even wearing his "civic collar" which the notes say are gold or silver chains worn by magistrates as insignia of office.
Charlotte is adamant and straight forward with him in her refusal. So straight forward that she angers Peter and when he finds out that she and Ludovic are mutually interested in each other he is now determined to "crush" her.
Later when Charlotte comes to Peter's rooms to find out what occured he seems to make more of Linda and Ludovic's attachment than the actuality causing Charlotte to agree that the marriage to Peter should take place as soon as possible.
Date: Mon, 30 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter 3: Plain speaking
Linda was probably right to speak plainly to her aunt about the proposed match, but to Peter, it just seemed to make him stubborn. I got the idea that had the nephew still been in Peter's good graces, perhaps with great care he could have been talked round to look favorably on Linda's marrying Ludovic instead of himself. Peter might even had had that in mind before Charlotte put the idea in his head that he could have Linda for himself.
August 31, 2004
Re: Linda Tressel: Chs 1-3: The cruelty of "virtue"; the merciless aunt: Power, Sex, and Religion
I find this one of Trollope's powerful novels in which he moves into veins of people's primal feeling. He puts his moral this way: the troubles and sorrows of the heroine are the result of
rigid virtue [when] not accompanied by sound sense, adn especially when it knows little or nothing of the softness of mercy.
Aunt Staubach knows no mercy; she doesn't even know how to appear to have its softness. For me a key line also occurs quickly; upon the idea coming into the aunt's head that she will marry Linda off to this ugly (there is no doubt he is distasteful looking) and old man who is avaricious and narrow to the point that she herself (the aunt) would not give him power over herself, Trollope writes:
the widow, shocked, perhaps at her own cruelty, almost retreated from the offer she had made.
But she does not, and we can get used to our own cruelty.
For a few days the widow's heart relented; for a few days thre came across her breast a frail, foolish, human idea of love and pasion . . .
But the "deathblow" is given when she begins to think about her religion which appears to be one which worships the devil, fear and issues in fear and hatred. This is a hellish religion: "What should she hesitate between heaven and hell" . . .
The religion is a rationale; it's a dangerous one because it releases the worst emotions of people, particularly their desire for power. Trollope early in his career made this connection between power and religion in his depiction of the story of Slop (Barchester Towers). Slop rages and writhes and tries to repress others as does Mrs Proudie because they want power over others. But there the power was social and kept impersonal. This power here is intimate and the aunt is insisting the young girl go to bed with an awful old man whom we quickly see will take his revenge on her for at first rejecting him. This is precisely what happened in Richardson's Clarissa: the ugly rejected suitor implicitly menaces her with what he'll do to her once they are married. Linda Tressel is Trollope's Clarissa story; the parallels are there throughout.
This is a story about power as much as sex and religion. The aunt wants to keep control over herself; she wants to control the niece, and the way she is prepared to do it is marry her off to an old man who will himself "crush" her. Crush is Trollope's word for this. Her rationale is her own bigoted hatred of anything pleasurable, particularly sex. If a woman has sexual feeling, she must be evil. She is taking a perverse revenge on her niece for her own resentments against the world which is outside her range.
I did see something I hadn't noticed before in the story of Fanny. Yes Fanny is Trollope's mother's own name. It's suggested that Fanny has had much socializing and is therefore strong with the cheerfulness that comes from interaction. We are also given to understand that she has chosen her suitor from a range of men. The only young man who has been allowed near Linda is Ludovic; the one encounter between Linda and Ludovic is one where he misbehaved in some way. The suggestion is he's tried to take advantage of Linda. Yes, she's attracted to him because he's the only young man whom she has ever met. Had she been permitted to know other people, girlfriends, other young men, she would not have been that affected by him; she could have thrown off the memory; she would not in the least have been attracted to him. Then the old man would not have had the weapon of her apparent longing for Ludovic to use as whip to torture her through her aunt's determination that she shall know no pleasure, particularly any which frees her of her aunt's domination.
I found the scene where Linda cries in front of Fanny poignant.
The house is important. It's part of what's being fought over. The aunt would not be so driven to prevent Linda from marrying a young man had there not been this house. Imagine Ludovic married to Linda. How long would the aunt last there? Ludovic will not himself sit for years on a stool in front of his uncle waiting patiently for promotion or for the old man to die. Ludovic is himself not worthy of Linda; but she has been given no chance to meet anyone worthy her.
Date: Wed, 01 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Home Page: Pegnitz
On our Home Page is a view on the Pegnitz River. It is somewhere in Nuremberg but I wasn't able to discover exactly where. It seems to me that it would be quite romantic living on an island in the middle of the river. More isolated than living in the town on one of the main bodies of land. I wonder if Trollope set Linda's home on an island to show part of her isolation.
Linda Tressel: Gazing on a River
Water is often the stuff we use to dream by and through. Here it's a nightmare.