Date: Sun, 5 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter IV: Linda a Harlot? Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chapter IV opens the morning after Aunt Charlotte left Peter alone with Linda so he could press his suit. Linda stays in bed late and says she is too ill to attend Church. It seems that the night before, Charlotte confronted Linda about what Peter had told her about Ludovic and there was another scene.
NOTE: I thought Linda was unduly upset when Aunt Charlotte told her that she was perhaps only to be Ludovic's "light-of-love" until I read the note at the back of my edition which defines light-of-love as: sharer in a brief love affair, with overtones of harlot, prostitute
Tetchen tries to take up for Linda and says that nothing had happened that would even be thought of over the road at Jacob Heisse's house. Tetchen hasn't heard all.
When the rest of the household has gone out Linda looks out a window and sees Ludovic. She steps back so she will not be seen and watches him get in a little boat that is kept moored at the warehouse. As she watches he pushes it as far towards her side of the bank as the rope allows and then, taking a pole, vaults across. Linda can't help but compare his agility with that of old Peter.
Suddenly Linda realizes how close Ludovic is. She locks the front door and rushes into the kitchen, also locking that door because she realizes a low window is open. Her fear of receiving Ludovic is that her aunt would then be able to say that she had received him in secret after pretending to be too ill to attend Church.
Ludovic of course locates her and they talk. He has heard she is to marry Peter. Linda tells him that will never occur. He declares his love. Linda will not reciprocate but does not deny it when questioned. Ludovic then wades out to the boat and returns to the other bank, apparently unseen.
Now Linda reflects that she is worse than the Heisse girls and thinks that she should confess the visit to her aunt. Ludovic has become very romantic in her eyes with this escapade. Linda thinks she might love him some but would still give him up in return to not have the marriage to Peter forced on her.
When Tetchen returns she announces that Peter is to have Sunday dinner with Linda and her aunt. Peter and Charlotte return together. When Peter goes briefly to his room Linda misses her chance to mention Ludovic's visit to Charlotte and she has no intention of mentioning it in front of Peter.
After dinner Peter suggests a walk to Linda who declines. Linda is alone with her aunt again and reads to her from the Bible. When Charlotte tells Linda she thinks she would never willingly be false to her, Linda turns her face away and the incident of the day remains untold.
Re: Pressured by Sexual Advances everywhere: Trollope's Linda Tressel and Jane Campion's Portrait of a Lady
I thought of how Campion in her movie represents the several suitors in James's Portrait of a Lady as continually attempting invasion and control. The woman is not allowed to have her body to herself.
Maybe all these wonderful dream-plots of the heroine chased by every male in sight are really nightmares in disguise. Trollope wants us to ask, What is the real experience of allurement?
Date: Sun, 5 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter IV: Ludovic pole-vaulting
When Ludovic pole-vaulted across from the little boat I thought it was terribly romantic, but wondered why he did it when he could have had no idea that Linda was watching. I now see that he was taking that way to her house to avoid being seen.
When Peter wanted Linda to walk to the Nonnen Garten with him, I couldn't help but wonder if he did so in the hopes that Ludovic would see them walking together.
Date: Tue, 07 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter V: Peter, the old man, knows
A week has passed and Linda thinks no one knows of Ludovic's "wonderful jump." Fanny rushes to tell Linda that the next day is to be her wedding and won't Linda come. Linda declines, although I don't know why. Does anyone have any ideas?
Then Fanny relates that her fiance, Max, saw Peter cross the river, but that they won't say a word about it to anyone. Some more days pass, then Charlotte again brings up the marriage to Peter. Another tedious conversation follows. Later Peter corners Linda in the kitchen but she is rude enough that he leaves. He meets a man that he had set to "spy" on his nephew. The spying was set earlier without regard to Linda, merely to keep an eye on what Ludovic was up to. Stobe tells Peter about Ludovic's visit to Linda and that he stayed at least half an hour.
Peter debates how the information can best be used: by blackmailing Linda or by telling her aunt. When he returns to the house Linda and her aunt are in the parlour. Linda leaves the room. She looks out the window from which she sees Ludovic even though Tetchen has told her he has gone to Augsburg. It is supposedly on Brewery business, but actually is probably secret political goings-on.
Linda's aunt calls her to come. Peter has told all to Charlotte, and dismissed Charlotte's thoughts that the meeting was not planned on Linda's part. Another argument and Charlotte does not believe that Linda didn't stay home from Church that day purposely to meet Ludovic. Charlotte tells Linda she is lucky that Peter will marry her anyway.
When Linda finally escapes to her bedroom, Charlotte prays for assistance. Linda determines to avoid Peter at all times.
Date: Tue, 07 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: The political business
In case anyone doesn't have notes, here is what the World's Classics edition says about the political business in which Ludovic may be involved:
Presumably a society advocating the unification of the German states under an emperor. The Bavarian government was opposed to German unification at this time, since it would end Bavarian independence. Munich was the capital of Bavaria. Such societies were particularly active after the unification of Italy in 1859-60.
Re: Linda Tressel: Linda's Self-hatred and Depression; or, How to Drive Someone Insane
Dagny asks why Linda does not go out to Fanny's wedding. I respond for the same reasons as she is said to be "mopey" and melancholy: her aunt has inculcated self-hatred in her. Her aunt calls her terms which profoundly hurt and insult her. Castaway. Light'o'love -- and even harlot. Harlot is the term Louis Trevelyan uses to Emily which causes such havoc that the marriage is destroyed. Nineteeth century women took such terms seriously. In this week's chapters we are given a long sequence of brooding by Linda as she sits imprisoned by her aunt (near her) where she begins to think she is going to hell. I thought of William Cowper when I read this: he went mad after he was converted to evangelicism because he became convinced he was vicious and would go to hell. I think in this novel Trollope is going to the heart of Calvinistic/ fundamentalistic religion to indict it strongly. He regards it as a force for evil and cruelty, for great harm.
The continual haranguing and harassment is done with such intensity that one feels how the aunt has made her life a punishment. The aunt sees everything that happens as punishment. She is determined to punish her niece to control her. How the aunt flares up though when the girl so much as mentions some desire about the house. She immediately threatens to leave. This put the girl over the top into hysterics and she begs the aunt to stay. We see here how this is a power struggle for the aunt too.
Linda is continually is described by others and responded to in ways that shows she's continually depressed. Depression has been defined as anger turned against the self. We see that she begins to have a highly erotic liaison with Ludovic. The scene in which he comes into her room is light an erotic nightmare, a wild dream. This is partly a projection of her mind, but it also comes from her isolation. She has lost perspective and has no one to turn to. No one begins to see her as simply a normal girl who's actually innocent. Had she been permitted to have pleasures, to spend time with other girls and men (go to dances), she would not have responded with this intensity. She could not have been exploited by Tetchen this way.
Tetchen plays an unwise and destructive part here too. She may mean to help the girl escape, but this is not the way to do it which will bring the girl some permanent security and sanity. She will also desert the girl if she is threatened.
It's a book about how to drive someone insane. That is what they are doing to Linda and no one makes a move to save her. I suggested when we read Miss Mackenzie that Trollope was there interested in the power of families to be destructive, in the pathologies of family life. We are seeing these here again. Trollope sees that women are most vulnerable to this -- that's why it comes up in his heroine's texts. They cannot escape the family. The society does not give them any opportunity to mingle outside this framework and no one outside the framework is willing to take any responsibility for what is going on until say a wife is beaten to the point of crippling, or a girl driven to the point of neurotic self-destruction. Then in Victorian England the girl would be taken to an asylum.
In this sense you can see these three books we've read this summer as books which expose cruelties wreaked on women because of their vulnerabilty and powerlessness.
In Linda I suggest that Trollope wants us to dwell on the two women's relationship. He tells us almost nothing about Ludovic. It's interesting that the kind of politics Ludovic interests himself with Trollope sympathized with because in the story Ludovic is characterized as a rake, dangerous, not caring enough for the girl, taking advantage of her. Peter is only this ugly vengeful and avaricious old man, a tool of the aunt. And Linda is under her aunt's spell. Her aunt's opinion of her and view of the world is one instilled in Linda. She can't get away from it because it's inside.
This is one of several novellas by Trollope which is instinctively deeply Freudian in its insights.
Re: Homesite Picture: Carlton Alfred Smith's Recalling the Past (1888)
September 8, 2004
I know I said I would go forward with a gay sequence from Geary's modern illustrations for Trollope's Ayala and I mean to return to them. I thought it might be interesting to some on our list if I contined the conversation about pictures which Angela began.
I have thus today put on our site another watercolor from the Victorian period by another member of the Royal Academy of Art, Carlton Alfred Smith's Recalling the Past (1888)
For those who remember or have been interested enough to look at the pictures we put up, this one is an analogue to the cover illustration of Nina Balatka/Linda Tressel edited by RTracy for the Oxford classics paperback series. If you go to our photo archives and click under Nina, you will again see a depiction of young woman weeping over a table; again her face is covered by her hand as if she were ashamed of herself or is simply hiding her grief. Although we never see Trollope's Nina or Linda in quite this posture, we can readily imagine some moment where they are in it; I believe the scene where Miss Mackenzie destroys her writings, she is depicted as grieving. The title is The Dressmaker and it's by Josef Maines; if she's a dressmaker, she's dressed remarkably elegantly for the daytime.
If you look at an enlargement by clicking on the photo (view image), you will see that again we are presented with rosy health; the hair of the young woman is impossibly grease- free and rich and clean; the cloth of her dress is expensive; her apron very white. The room is bare; she could be Lily Dale grieving over a letter she has just gotten from Crosby. The room is presented in the same realistic manner we saw in the Thomas illustrations for The Last Chronicle.
This characteristic depiction of women is symptom, reflection, and imposition. Women were vulnerble, powerless, and popular middle class novels with their illustrations directed at women readers brought this out. But it's also imposition. It presents women as emotional and utterly dependent on some emotional relationship; as an object just about wholly dependent on her status with powerful authority figures and males. It's this point of view that Linda Tressel works out of; so too Miss Mackenzie -- except that Margaret has inherited money which gives her a little space, a tiny bit of power which alas she doesn't know how to use. But women did know how to use such power; they did go out of the home; they did work; there were other options.
What I liked about the Gregory is it showed the figures enjoying themselves.
However, if you read Newell's book you discover that the melancholy depiction of elegant females is not the only or even the most typical watercolor. Many of the watercolors are realistic and show real scenes of daily life. I mean to put up a few of these over the next week or so. I'll alternate between these (which are often of somewhat depressed people who look like they are living a subsistence life) and Geary's picturesque romance images.
Thank you, Ellen.
When I saw the picture my first thought was of Linda Tressel and her anguish.
Date: Wed, 08 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter VI
Several more weeks have passed. Linda continues to avoid Peter and leave any room as soon as he enters. Charlotte gives Linda even less freedom than before, rarely leaving her alone and even having her accompany her on marketing trips. It is a very sad and gloomy household. Linda has no one to whom she can talk enjoyably, not even Tetchen as she thinks the maid might be a double agent.
Linda hasn't seen Ludovic for over two months when suddenly he is there at her door, sneaking into the house with Tetchen's aid. He tells Linda that he is leaving Nuremberg for Munich and asks her to go with him. He proposes marriage, but Linda refuses. She doesn't see how it could be accomplished.
Now this confuses me. Is Linda not of age to marry without a guardian's consent? Or does she not really deep down want to marry Ludovic?
Linda doesn't seem spoiled. She doesn't seem like she would fear a hard life in a small and possibly dingy home. It would certainly be better to her than what she now has.
Re: Linda Tressel, Ch 6: Among Evils; An Abused Woman
It seems to me what Linda wants is to escape the terrible situation she is in. Her problem is she has nowhere to go where she will be at all safe, indeed where she is guaranteed a meal or a bed. As far as we can see, Ludovic is young man with passionate appetites, one of which is for Linda. Love here is a kind of frantic hunger. There is no sense that the two people know anything of one another as human beings; he is no one to trust. He is otherwise busy with revolutionary politics.
About the cruelty, spite, harassment and desire for power and control over Linda that we see in her aunt and by extension the craven (among his many unadmirable characteristics Peter is a coward; he preys on the weak) aging male, we have probably said all there is to say. Trollope indites fundamentalist religion as something which can provide rationales for these behaviors. We might infer what he would think of the fanatic religious/ethnic groups in our world today who grasp and use power ruthlessly or who are among the impoverished, exploited and abused (sometimes tortured) and lash out with crazed violence.
The depictions in Trollope's novellas leave prosaic realism and move into the extremisms of romance, but if we turn to a prosaic realistic novel, we can find many women who don't want to marry. I'm just now reading The American Senator and one of the fundamental elements in Arabella Trefoil's twisted personality is she cares for no man and really wants to marry no one. She is not given any other option for security, respect, and luxurious power and prestige. These things she does want, but not any male. Despite her "big blonde" sexy appearance (she is a kind of cow), she is frigid (the "large inexpressive eyes," the coldness of Griselda Grantly). We can see many other variants on the woman who doesn't want to marry anyone in Trollope: Lily Dale, Miss Emily Forrest, Priscilla Stanbury are among those who hold out for peace and autonomy in a private space. Priscilla Stanbury is however unusual in that she seems to understand her bargain absolutely, and argues she doesn't want money and prestige or even much company; as those who have read HKHWR recall she ends up living in a poor cottage. None of Trollope's women ever seem to think of striking out for some employment for themselves -- which many 19th century women did, including travelling for it.
Linda is not only of an age to marry, but she could legally take the house back. Her aunt knows this. In reality, given the way she has been raised, she has been so deprived of self-esteem and the customs of self-assertion, it's almost impossible for her even to dream of being independent. Indeed the idea terrorizes her. Her aunt threatens her by saying she will leave the house. On another level Trollope has presented us with the psychological grounding or make-up of the abused woman. People ask why does this woman stay with this husband who beats her? Because she has been socialized into abjection, from the capitalist-familial networking of our society has been cut off except through the male she is married to so feels utterly without anyone to turn to. She cannot act on her own. She has been taught she is helpless and worthless.
So Linda Tressel. Trollope has gone much further than Richardson in understanding the Clarissa syndrome. Or his text has. I don't know how conscious he is of what he's shown us here. I do think he means to show it; he means to show how cruel the powerful can be to the powerless and to show one of the typical means used that he has seen in his world. In three of his heroine's texts (Rachel Ray, Nina, and Linda), the social force exposed is religious attack on the self; in the fourth (Miss Mackenzie), custom and familial "duty" is the cruel whip -- as well as the male's (John Ball) demand that she be utterly obedient to him and never so much as have any libidinal passion except when he allows it.
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's Heroines as Characters Not Permitted to Have Independent Space
The unknown Trollope explores in his novellas and lesser known heroine's texts the inability of women to command their own bodily space. Miss Mackenzie and Linda rebel.
Date: Thu, 09 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Chapter VII: Midwinter
Midwinter now and Linda has not been able to decide what to do. She has seen Ludovic twice and received numerous notes from him. He appeals to her to accompany him to Munich and marry him. Tetchen thinks that if Linda would tell her aunt that she means to marry Ludovic that Charlotte can do nothing but go along with the plans. Linda is more inclined to choose Tetchen's course than Ludovic's, but she desperately wishes for advice. So desperate that she even considers Jacob Heisse, Fanny's father, but decides he is too timid. Finally she settles on one of her father's old friends, Herr Molk.
When Linda is dressed to go to Egidien Platz to see Herr Molk, she goes to her aunt to tell her of her plans in order that Charlotte cannot later accuse her of sneaking around. Charlotte says to Linda: "If he bids you marry Peter Steinmarc, will you do as he bids you?" Linda cannot conceive that Herr Molk would do that, but avoids a promise or denial by saying: "I will endeavour to do as he bids me."
As Linda leaves the red house she wonders why her aunt did not make a fuss about the visit.
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Aunt Charlotte's place in literary history
In the very respectable-looking red house Aunt Charlotte "prettifies" the big lie: "You owe me big-time, Miss Linda." Chapter one covers so much territory---by the end of that chapter Linda is a twenty-year-old young woman and the "crushing" idea has been broached. My thought was that though she may have to struggle, Linda should be able to handle the situation. Who would have ever thought that fourteen years earlier (and in such a "nice" household) the spirit of a very young person was being crushed? Horrible!
Last night I finished The Eustace Diamonds. I also waded through the archives of the Eustace Diamonds discussion. Interesting that a listmember happened to read Linda Tressel during the Eustace Diamonds read. They made a Aunt Charlotte/(antic)Mrs. Carbuncle connection. Let me add to Linda Tressel a connection with Shirley Jackson's The Lottery. A year or so ago, I brought home from the public library a videotape of the movie version of The Lottery, and put it in the VCR without comment. My wife was duly horrified. But "Lottery"-"Linda Tressel" events happen every day. I agree that the Holocaust was not a one-time historical event. Thank God for little things like Linda Tressel and The Lottery and seemingly unimportant connections like "Aunt Charlotte and Mrs. Carbuncle."
Richard (hoping I haven't gone too far astray here)
PS The Eustace Diamonds presents a real contrast to, say, Linda Tressel. Trollope doesn't even try to soften any of his numerous "hookey noses" in ED. In fact, he lets it all hang out in ED (to use a gross figure of speech from years past.) The highly respectable Anthony Trollope lets it all hang out.
I appreciate it because he can write very engaging, important stories and still honestly show that he's one of the guys. I started to say "one of the people", but I'm not sure what that means. I know more about being one of the guys.
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Aunt Charlotte's place in history
Dear Richard and all,
I''m not quite sure what Richard means by I do think that it's not at all improbable that a girl like Linda would be crushed nor that such girls are uncommon today.
The first demonstration is easier. Go to any shelter for abused women and you will find many women who stay with their abusers. The psychology behind it is just such as Trollope has dramatized and entered into. Go to any reformed welfare place and you will find women afriad of being lost, women who have been pressured by families in all sorts of ways (including men) which have helped lead to their present "victimhood." Come to that, go to a frat party in any college, and you will come across the girl who the group treats like a scapegoat slut: go into her background and you will find the same lack of self-esteem and psychological instilled self-abnegation as we have here.
The second really is just to say the novel shows how Linda has been totally brought up by this woman. This woman's view of Linda is her. What else has she known? What experience of the world's abrasions has she been given so as to strengthen her. US junior highs are great that way: when my younger daughter left the 9th grade for high school, she remarked that "after this all life will seem a piece of cake." That's a quote.
It is horrible. I wish only that the kind of analysis Trollope is daring enough to show, the family and sexual pathologies he so well understands -- as well as the power drive and uses of money and densities such as the male "advisor" the aunt is glad to send LInda to -- were dramatized fully today as they are really acted out. Films misrepresent women continually.
Poor Linda. Her naivete in dreaming this male bourgeois could at all enter into her feelings is part of her tragedy.
Aunt Charlotte -- like Lady Ball and Mrs Carbuncle -- are still with us. The _visibilia_ has changed, that's all.
Re: Linda: One of Trollope's Unqualifiedly Tragic Books
I should probably have said in my posting yesterday that I've not read Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery." I've come across it and also student essays on it. It's a story which used to be set for undergraduates in English courses; it's reprinted in many older anthologies meant for sale to such classes (or high schools, which provide books for students).
My first sentence got mangled too. I meant to say I wasn't sure that I understood all of what Richard was getting at (I was thinking of his last paragraph). I didn't understand what he meant by saying that Trollope can "honestly show he's one of the guys." But I did agree that the situation at the heart of this novel is an unhappily probable and even (among some groups in society) perhaps not an uncommon one. Trollope presents it strongly; what lies beneath the surface is brought out graphically. He means us not to miss what he is saying about his targets.
This is not Trollope's only tragic book or tragic story. It is a rare one for him sticking to his matter and taking it to the logical honest conclusion at the close of the book. That's what Henry James admired the telling of the central story of He Knew He Was Right for; James's essay on Nina and Linda is worth reading. He and Richard Holt Hutton (one of Trollope's most perceptive contemporary English critics) agreed that Nina, Linda and He Knew He Was Right showed Trollope at his finest. James's view was had Trollope held firm this way over all his fictions, they would have been much superior and thought much better of. I can think of many substories in Trollope where he does take the tragedy to its logical conclusion -- The Bertrams and The Three Clerks are among these: in The Bertrams the central couple is separated for good; one man commits suicide; in The Three Clerks the embezzler hero is sent to Australia -- I just wondered if he was transported. Hmmn. I don't remember. I think he was let off from that, and himself decides to emigrate as a free man, but one whose career and reputation in England has been ruined.
I can also think of subtle versions of holding true to the logical of the story, so many they are uncountable: from Johnny Eames and Lily Dale to Mary Lady Mason and Mr Harding and many more minor characters. But the only one story that really comes near the hard anguish and cruelty thrown at vulnerable weak people by the society they are surrounded by is Cousin Henry. Cousin Henry is the male match for Linda Tressel. In Cousin Henry a shy timid nervous (un-macho) male is preyed upon and despised precisely because he is so, despised by all. In some ways it's an even more hard story to take because our sympathies don't go out to him since (paradoxically) he gives in and doesn't die. He's just ejected.
If Linda is like The Lottery, Cousin Henry is a match for a story by Kafka.