Church of St. Giles in Nuremberg; Climax (1): A Contemporary Reviewer on the Attack on Bigoted Religion; Climax (2): Henry James's Commentary; And The Eustace Diamonds; What Does Linda Look Like; Like a Caged Animal; The "half-soft, half-wild expression of her face ..."; Tetchen

John Morgan (1823-1886) One of the People -- Gladstone in an Omnibus, 1886

Date: Sat, 11 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Home Page: Church of St. Giles in Nuremberg

Just as this week's segment of Linda Tressel ended, Linda was going to ask advice of one of her father's old friends, Herr Molk whose house is in Egidien Platz.

The footnote in my edition says: Egidien Platz: a square in Nuremberg's Old Town, on St Sebald's Side, containing the eighteenth-century Egidienkirche (Church of St Giles; Lutheran) and a number of picturesque old houses.

Our Home Page Picture is of the Church of St. Giles.

The commentary: Built after the fire that ravaged Nuremberg in 1696, the is the only surviving Baroque church in the city. The interior contains remains of the previous church on the site - some small chapels from the previous Romanesque and Gothic building.


Subject: [trollope-l] Home Page: Church of St. Giles in Nuremberg

Thank you Dagny.

How beautiful these pictures are. So filled with sunlight and therefore hope. I've made a separate Linda folder as I made a separate Nina folder for all the pictures we've gathered.

Somehow as I read Linda I feel it's all twilight into night-time, all nightmare and dreams, obsession creating patterns of repetition.

In my book I argued that Trollope had gothic phases and I identified these as part of his Anglo-Irish novels. Now I would add to these Nina and Linda.


Re: Linda Tressel, Chs 8-11: Climax (1): A Contemporary Reviewer on the Attack on Bigoted Religion

In this week's chapters we have what's traditionally called the climax of the story. The naive or innocent Linda, not understanding that most people whom she would go to for advice, will produce advice that mirrors their values and needs, and particularly when the person is of a different age and sex, will see her not as subject but another object, has gone to Herr Molk. When he hears the name of Ludovic Valcarm, who is to him all that endangers him and his order, and whom he and other authorities are jailing, he reacts with intense emotionalism. Like most of the other characters in the story, he has also been trained never to see in Linda a sexual being: the aunt does see this, and her response is to say that if Linda has sexual desires, she is a slut, castaway, harlot, disgusting, worthless, despicable. In fact, this is a strong ' representation of the underlying point of view of the Victorian period which families could use to drive a daughter to marry to aggrandize the family. The girl is not supposed to have sexual feelings.

When Linda comes home, her aunt tries to insist that Linda had agreed to do whatever the Herr said -- when what she had said was she would heed his advice if she could. This ploy reminds me of situations in The Vicar of Bullhampton and The American Senator where a heroine (Mary Lowther, Mary Masters) when driven, ostracized, pressured, and also insulted, to stave off this intense harassment says to a suitor, I will give you a decision X weeks from now (instead of repeating 'no'), is immediately taken to have given in, and when the time draws near, it is demanded she marry the man she has no sexual or love feelings for. But the difference is important: Linda's aunt goes mad. She sits by her bed and goes into neurotic frantic fits, accusing her once again of vicious propensities, in effect refusing to move away from the weakened (in body as well as mind) girl until she has bullied her into agreeing. The whole scene feels like a nightmare from some insane asylum, except that people do behave this way. Exhausted, without enough food, and thinking herself the vile thing her aunt has defined her, Linda accedes.

Linda does this in a revealing way which shows Trollope's understanding of a girl's psychology. She does it by presenting herself as vile. She implies that she and Ludovic had some form of sex in her bedroom: not fucking, but say kissing, hugging, perhaps petting. The aunt is horrified and Linda hopes that the aunt seeing she is really a slut will not want her to marry Peter Steinmarc; that he will be told and feel her pollution and degradation and leave off. But the aunt grows more desperate; later the aunt begins to suspect that Linda had exaggerated.

This is how people "fall." If all the world despises them and says they are worthless, they will see themselves that way and act the part. It's a release. It need not be in the area sex; one sees this behavior in teenagers in a number of areas.

Now the driving really begins, and the date is set. The aunt who actually dislikes Steinmarc begins to feel distaste for him when he preens, demands, and (as she feels) shows that were he to become Linda's husband, he would be a bully in the house the law would then make his own. He is given a moment of sympathy by Trollope: he feels mortified before the town; it is becoming clear to others that he is being foisted on a girl who doesn't want him. He grows more resentful and for one moment even thinks perhaps he should not do this. Perhaps it will not lead to contentment for him.

The way economic and social prestige perverts human being's conduct to act against their own natural feelings and actual most basic interests is show in this story. Richard Holt Hutton wrote about how Trollope showed this in another novella, An Eye for an Eye. There is something lunatic in the mindlessness of twisted human passions. That the target is how religion is used and what it can do pathologically was recognized and written about when Linda was published. Here is an excerpt from an unsigned review in the Spectator on Linda Tressel (2 May 1868; it's reprinted in AT: The Critical Heritage):

The author's idea in Linda Tressel has been to work out . . . how terrible and powerful an engine for the torture of both others and herself [Madame Staubach], a stern Calvinistic creed, acting upon some arbitrary notion that God's will for the mortification of another's spirit is visible to her, may prove; and on the other hand, how illogically and imperceptibly this creed in the true religious woman will accommodate itself to her respect for the superiority of men, so as to except them from the law of mortification which she tries to impose upon even those whom she best loves in women.

More than once in his fiction, Trollope's narrator remarks that Madame Staubach did not seem to think that Peter Steinmarc should refuse his appetite, should himself be mortified or repressed. Indeed he is to be placated and given every release (including that of sex with Linda once he has married her).

This reviewer also sees that Trollope has been interested to paint for us just the kind of pyschology that can be so tortured and bullied, and paradoxically it is someone who is deeply affectionate and tender at heart, sensitive:

In Linda Tressel herself ... the author has still more carefully studied to draw the nature most susceptible of suffering from torture of this kind. Here is a loving and grateful heart, full of real affection ...

The very depths of the girl also make her refuse to give in; a shallower person would not care as much:

Linda Tressel has in her enough depth of tenderness to be simply unable to yield herself whenher heart loudly asserts that the marraige proposed to her would be utterly shocking ...

And again Trollope reinforces this by suggesting to us that Steinmarc would be cruel to her, get back, once he gets power over her.

The reviewer goes on to ask why Trollope chose "Nuremberg as the scene of this story of tyrannical religious persecution." We did speak of how Prague seemed so right for a story of religious intolerance then (in Trollope's day the way space was organized to separate, exclude, stigmatize and elevate different groups of people); we've not mentioned it for Linda. The reviewer suggests that

There is something perhaps in the steady Protestantism of a place all of whose churches and other art monuments seem to speak a language of Catholicism -- something of conspicuousness in the Puritanic transformation of the interior religious life where the exterior thereof remains exatly what it was in the old Catholic days, -- which suggests a conflict between Puritan feelings and the instincts of easy, popular life. In such a place ... it no doubt may seem more natural to call up Protestantism to the bar, and ask whether it, too, does not often sin against nature with as much gravity as Catholicism did at the time it lost so much of its old ground and ascendancy.

The reviewer goes on to say that Trollope is not arraigning a locale, but through its physical plant saw his way to through pictures and drama "arraign the bigotry of Protestantism."

He (or she) concludes by remarking that both stories, Nina and Linda "hinge on certain kinds of religious persecution" that are "powerful." In this review he (or she) has brought out how these powerful impulses are brought to bear particularly hard on women of sensitive deep feelings who have real integrity, i.e., a Nina or a Linda.

The power of the scene of Aunt Staubach at Linda's bedside is harrowing. Perhaps its strength comes from the calm prosaic vivid but intensely energetic language which with Trollope re-enacts this "cruelty" (he continually uses the word "cruelty" for "Aunt Charlotte) next to the bedside of a very weak and now mentally as well as physically sickened and half-mad from harassment, Linda.


Re: Linda Tressel, Chs 8-11: Climax (2): Henry James's Commentary

The climax knots the action into an inescapable situation in which some action must be taken or some reaction ensue from whatever is threatened or exposed. As Linda finds herself driven to marry Peter and the time draws near, the enigmatic servant maid, Tetchen (who has herself played an ambiguous marginalized but important role in this tragedy) once again enables Ludovic to get near Linda. She must run away with him or marry Peter.

This is precisely the logic of Richardson's Clarissa. The heroine is driven to run away with the rake because she feels she will marry the hideous spiteful dense coarse man. Another difference between Linda and books like The Vicar of B and American Senator is the young man the girl's relatives are intent on coercing her to marry is a good man, kindly, of her age, gently and really loving her (Harry Gilmore, though he turns into a neurotic stalker, and the very appealing Larry Twentyman). Our narrator (as Richardson does in Clarissa) suggests once Linda leaves, that she could have just held out, no one could force her; but we have seen that aunt (as we see Clarissa's relatives the whiplash Harlowes).

I bring this analogy in because in running away Linda feels she is degrading herself. Ludovic has said nothing of marriage and says nothing. All Linda's training, the way she has been taught to think (and like Clarissa she has no other), leads her to feel Ludovic will now exploit and use and look down on her, that she will be without security. She feels this degradation happening physically as she has just one dress and it becomes soiled. She is mortified at her dirty appearance. Dirt is a sign of her new low status.

We also see that Ludovic has not made any plans. He is fleeing the police and perhaps has not had time. After all, it's surprizing that he stops to rescue this girl. This reader would like to feel he does feel intense affection for her and we've no reason to think not. His "easy" sexual ways (kissing, hugging) may just show that unlike Linda he has not been brought up to think the slightest sexual interaction vile, only to be allowed and propiated for by a marriage ceremony. But we are told so little of him. Unlike Nina, Trollope is not interested in the male in this story and tells us little of him. He remains an object of Linda's isolated dreams. Had she had some social interaction, she would not have fallen in love; she scarcely knows him. Trollope's focus is relentlessly on the older fanatic cruel obtuse woman and the young powerless overwrought emotional girl in the woman's preying grasp.

Terror upon terror: she spends part of the night sleeping on a floor near this young man. How desperate she is. Then on the train, when she looks to reassurance, he falls asleep. This touch is Trollopian. She thinks this sleeping shows her suitor's insensibility; it shows (as Thackeray said) we cannot go out to understand what others are feeling very readily; it shows he's tired, exhausted. And then the police catch up and she is left to make her way to some place she's never heard of, people she doesn't know, whom she thinks will despise her.

Imagine yourself a young girl having left home for the first time, never being permitted to go anywhere but with this rigid old woman, thinking yourself filthy, degraded, without any knowledge of the world. Richard mentioned an analogy with "The Lottery." There's one with a great film which has been an unexpected "hit" in my area: Maria Full of Grace. When the heroine there finds herself at risk of her life, alone, in a great city, she turns to a female relative of a friend whose name and address she has. Another woman she feels will not try to rape or to abuse and exploit her physically; another older woman will sympathize and help her. So too will the denouement of Linda begin with Linda moving into the same impulse. The "escape" hatch of this story is after all there are other people in the world beyond the narrow circle of bigotry and conservatism that Aunt Staubach and Herr Molk represent; Linda has other relatives, and she has one girl friend.

The scene on the train is perhaps the most effective of many very effective ones in this book. Again Trollope is in the mind of Linda and works up the feeling to that of semi-dream, half-nightmare and makes us feel the pulse of someone's passion and the world on Linda. I am reminded of the power of the train sequence in The Prime Minister where Ferdinand Lopez commits suicide. It begins "They were whirled away through the dark cold night with the noise of the rattling train ever in their ears." I won't go on to type more as people have their own texts (I hope). I'll just point to a favorite detail, so touching, so poignant, so human in its fleshly vulnerability and discomfort: "Oh, the cold! She had gathered her feet up and was trying to sit on them."

This detail exemplifies what Henry James in his perceptive splendid review of Nina and Linda wrote. Like the reviewer of the Spectator he recognizes this and the other novel as explorations of "religious bigotry" particularly as it is used against women. James pinpoints a flaw in this and other of Trollope's books: the problem is Trollope doesn't penetrate sufficiently beyond the flat statement or picturesque detail to explicate the "essence" of the case even if he can put before us "quite vividly" the character: Peter Steinmarc is not probed for real and fully, only made a partly enigmatic exemplar in "big shoes," "protuberant corns," with "scanty hair, greasy hat" and "vulgar probity." The idea of the "revolting" match is left on that level. James also pinpoints Trollope's strength in this story (and others at times):

The peculiar merit of the story -- in fact, its beauty, we may say -- lies in the perfect moderation with which it is told. It is not the moderaton of a Goethe, let us say; one who stands on a great intellectual height ... [it is rather] born of [Trollope's] humble good sense and sympathetic discretion. The pathos of Linda's fate is deepened by the perfect mediocrity of her persecutors ... The author has made his heroine not a white more interesting, nor her eneimes a hwit more cruel, than the story really requires them to be. This universal mediocrity gives the work a depressing and melancholy character.

It's not that Trollope has "calculated the dramatic effect" of making his characters "common" but because that's the level at which he enters into life himself. So he produces "tragic homeliness." And James exemplifies this by describing Linda's train trip with Ludovic whose "vulgarity of character" and is yet another powerful element in Linda's experience:

We remember few touches more painful than the passage in which , when she is making her escape to Augsburg with her lover and she sits int eh darkness in the railway carriage, racked with anguish and half-frozen ... The whole episode ... is admirably related, without the slightest discordance of color ... in all its length of abject soberness and dinginess ...

The "atmosphere" of this tale is "heavy with despair and madness and coming death." Trollope's techniques are a prosaic equivalent of high romance. James compares this text to Scott's and those of authors who take us through romantic gorges, mountains, forests, dungeons and into scenes of powerful intelligent people:

Mr Trollope trudges through crowded city streets and dusty highways and level garden paths. But the two roads [high romance with its gorges, mountains, dungeons] and meet at the spot where a sweet young girl lies dying of a broken heart (from The Nation, June 18, 1868, reprinted in Library of America series of James's writing)

Ellen Moody

Date: Mon, 13 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda: And The Eustace Diamonds

In explanation of my take of A. Trollope as "one of the guys" from a recent reading of Eustace Diamonds.... I find the words "lie," "lied," "lying," (working words in ED)to be very jarring, prostrating words, at one with what I take to be the main idea of ED: the brutalizing effect of certain personal possessions. The most memorable scene of ED occurs near the end when a disillusioned Frank Greystock is escorting Lady Eustace back to Portray Castle. He feels he must separate himself from her, and at various train stops along the way he settles for drinking and smoking, unable to stomach the disgusting, nasty little sandwiches offered for sale. ED traffics throughout in brutalizing, disgusting nastinesses---which AT seems familiar with.

I find that Aunt Charlotte is lying when she deceives Linda regarding the extent of her personal obligations.


Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2004
Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel, Chs 8-11: What Does Linda Look Like

At this point I was wondering what Linda looks like. The narrator, in Chapter II, says she "was a tall, light-built (slender?), active young woman, in full health,...very pretty withal, with eager, speaking eyes, and soft luxurious tresses.... Her face, like that of her aunt, was oval in its form, and her complexion was dark and clear. But perhaps her greatest beauty consisted in the half-soft, half-wild expression of her face...

And that's about all. Also, Charlotte Staubach gets only a few seconds in the describing spotlight.

What happened to her nose, mouth, neck, shoulder, etc, etc, which Trollope usually delights to describe? I guess it's his way of emphasizing their (Charlotte and Linda) repressed sexuality. Living walled up in the red house neither Charlotte nor Linda dress to please, and they seldom leave the house. Linda seldom even goes out to the front gate.

Nuremberg would seem to fit Trollope's purposes in Linda as the small, isolated Protestant community whose walls must figuratively must ever be strengthened and maintained against Roman Catholic, outside encroachment.


Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: What Does Linda Look Like

Richard wrote:

At this point I was wondering what Linda looks like. The narrator, in Chapter II, says she "was a tall, light-built (slender?), active young woman, in full health,...very pretty withal, with eager, speaking eyes, and soft luxurious tresses.

Thank you, Richard, for bringing this back to mind. I think later in the book it again mentions Linda as acative and it. I always wondered how this could be when she so rarely ventured past the gate of the red house.

Did the description "active" mean something different in Trollope's day? Could it have meant someone who did work around the house and didn't take to their chaise lounge as being delicate?

But I seem to recall in other books of Trollope's women that were actually active as we think of it today. Women who went fox-hunting or took long walks.


Date: Wed, 15 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel: Like a caged animal

Dagny, I also noticed more than one "active." Maybe it means something like: "like a caged animal," at least when she's not oppressed by her aunt's expectations.


To Trollope-l

September 16, 2004

Re: Linda Tressel, Chs 8-11: The "half-soft, half-wild expression of her face ..."

Thank you to Richard. It's in such expressions Trollope communicates worlds of connotations concisely. He does indeed endow Linda with an intense sexuality here, one of the caged animal. We can see why the aunt is so ferocious. On the other hand, the story or plot-design focuses us not on the intrasex antagonism of two frustrated women. The aunt after all does not want to marry, though like Rachel Ray's equally intensely religious sister this is partly a matter of retaining power over herself. The story insists on Linda's isolation; I take Trollope's more conscious inference to be that she has become "half-soft, half-wild" because she is so cut off from others. Her passions have intensified unnaturally; vilified as she is, she is then very susceptible to Ludovic's passionate appetites as well as pity.

The mystery figure is Tetchen. What are her motives? She is a type we find in such stories, the amoral woman who acts treacherously in a morally stupid manner, whom the heroine cannot depend on. Is she Ludovic's friend? We are not given any sense that he has money to bribe her.


Re: Linda Tressel: Tetchen

Ellen wrote:

The mystery figure is Tetchen. What are her motives? She is a type we find in such stories, the amoral woman who acts treacherously in a morally stupid manner, whom the heroine cannot depend on. Is she Ludovic's friend? We are not given any sense that he has money to bribe her.

I think Tetchen is Linda's friend. She may be a bit of a romantic or she may just be pragmatic enough to realize that how unpalatable a marriage with Peter would be and thus helps Ludovic.

Did that make her amoral? Not to me. She knew Ludovic and Linda weren't getting up to anything but she wanted them to at least be able to communicate. It's not treacherous to Linda, only to Peter and Charlotte. Of course it may not have turned out for the good, but Tetchen wasn't to know that.

I can't see her as acting morally stupid either. Just because she wanted Linda to have a husband more her own age instead of some dreadful old man. Charlotte is the one that was being stupid even if she did have good motives.


Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Linda Tressel, Chs 8-11: Tetchen

My feeling about Tetchen comes from Trollope's telling us so little and the way she behaves to Linda. It doesn't inspire any confidence. She doesn't talk or act as a friend to Linda. She may think she is doing right but her total silence is the sort of thing that is not to be depended upon. She can always deny everything, and take a stance that will protect her job not Linda.

If she were Linda's friend for real, she would at least speak aloud to her. The silence is her protecting herself. In modern political terms she keeps out of the "loop" not because she is not acting, but because she is careful lest she have to take responsibility for what she's doing.

In most novels of this type this serving woman ends up betraying the girl she has supposedly been silently helping. In real life stories servants would blackmail whoever was susceptible to blackmail and in a couple of Trollope's novels he mentions a servant seeing what happened and going for blackmail. There are all sorts of court cases too where the woman testifies against the girl. The case of Artemisia Gentileschi is precisely parallel.

For all we know Tetchen has simply been taking bribes from Ludovic. The narrator in fact hints this early on.


Walter Tyndale (1855-1943) The Sermon (detail),1888

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