Trollope's Handiwork: An Abundance of L-Words; Steeling One's Nerves for L; Money and Position and the L-experience

Carlton Alfred Smith's Recalling the Past (1888)

Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's Handiwork: An Abundance of L-Words

Some cut and pasted excerpts from the first part of the Gutenburg Project e-text of Nina Balatka:

Even the people in these days were mild and forbearing in their usages with the Jews, and she thought that the girls of the Kleinseite would not tear her clothes from her back even when they knew of her love*. One thing, however, was certain. Though every rag should be torn from her though some priest might have special power given him to persecute her though the Zamenoys in their wrath should be able to crush her even though her own father should refuse to see her, she would be true to the Jew. Love* to her should be so sacred that no other sacredness should be able to touch its sanctity. She had thought much of love*, but had never loved* before. Now she loved*, and, heart and soul, she belonged to him to whom she had devoted herself. Whatever suffering might be before her, though it were suffering unto death, she would endure it if her lover* demanded such endurance.

The story of her love must be told,

But yet Nina loved* the room, and as she sat there waiting for her lover*, she wished that it had been her lot to have been born a Jewess. Only, had that been so, her hair might perhaps have been black, and her eyes dark, and Anton would not have liked her. She put her hand up for a moment to her rich brown tresses, and felt them as she took joy in thinking that Anton Trendellsohn loved* to look upon fair beauty.

But not the less on that account had he behaved with Christian forbearance to his Christian debtor, Josef Balatka, and with Christian chivalry to Balatka's daughter, till that chivalry had turned itself into love.

"No words will frighten me out of my love,

She will leave no stone unturned to make you give up your Jew lover."

Just as I thought: an abundance of L-words. Has anyone ever pointed out that in Castle Richmond on a single page, p. 338 of my Dover edition, the L-word occurs eleven times? To me this is a sure sign of Trollope's handiwork.

But then A. Trollope has the best love/marriage-proposal scenes. I love every one of them: in fact, I get all teary-eyed thinking about them. In the past this really bothered me---I'm getting to be a real old fogey yet I get all teary-eyed about something Trollope wrote. I've read Rachel Ray and Castle Richmond twice.

Thanks for "taking me in," again---to use a phrase of Robert Frost's.


Date: Mon, 19 Jul 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's Handiwork

Richard wrote:

Just as I thought: an abundance of L-words.

LOL (another L word?). Thank you for pointing this out, Richard. No wonder I am enjoying Nina Balatka so much.

Nina's father is so "weak." Is it because he has just been beaten down by life and has more or less given up. I found it odd that Nina was able to take the money Ziska had given to her father and return it. I'm siding with the impertinent Souchey here in wanting to keep the money.

Lotta Luxa who works for the Zamenoys--is Trollope playing with her name? Or is it a legitimate name? It comes to me as Lot of Luxury.


Re: Nina: Trollope's Handiwork: AT's "Tricks" of Repetition

A warm welcome back Richard. As you can see we carry on :).

I suggest Trollope has a "trick" of repetition; he will build his paragraphs through repeating phrases as well as words. This is part of what gives him his peculiar rhythm; it also enables him to write on. He does it lightly and (as he says in his Autobiography) he's careful to make his sentence do the work of carrying on the story as well as projecting a character's psychology. So we don't feel it as repetition -- the way one may for Dickens who also endlessly has to produce prose.

Trollope does seem to be playing with names, giving them allegorical resonances while keeping them realistic. That's what he does in his English books. When we meet the young woman in love with Anton, we'll see a reference to Scott's Rebecca.

Nina's father seems to me to be beaten down by life, yes. He harks back to Thady McDermot's father, a variant on Trollope's own. So once again Trollope has also taken on the feminine position: he is Nina as he was Thady. He's Anton too, the outsider, the Phineas Finn (so to speak) of the piece, only decidedly far more prejudiced against.

Cheers to all,

Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Nina: Steeling One's Nerves for L Reply-To:

Thanks, Ellen.

In Chap. 2, Trollope writes: "She was nervously anxious to rush at once at her difficulties, and to be known to all who belonged to her as the girl who had given herself to the Jew."

Nina does that in Chap. 3, when she rushes off to take the bundle of bills (money charitably given to Josef Balatka by Liska Zemenoy) right back whence it came. Nina has to steel her nerves whenever she goes from point A to point B which seens to be more often as a business intermediary. My question: Must she steel her nerves when she visits Anton? My guess is: Yes. Her early (in the story) meeting with Anton seemed a very tense moment. Not a hopeful situation. I take back all I said about Trollope love scenes :).

Souchey surely has a right to object: part of the donated money is rightly his.


Date: Wed, 21 Jul 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Nina: Reply-To:

Richard wrote:

My question: Must she steel her nerves when she visits Anton? My guess is: Yes. Her early (in the story) meeting with Anton seemed a very tense moment.

Part of the reason Nina has to steel her nerves to even visit Anton seems to be the fact that it isn't "ladylike" or acceptable behaviour for the woman to visit the man. Nina laments that the man is supposed to come to her, not the other way round. Then too, she doesn't want to be seen by all and sundry (or anyone at all) visiting him. This is no doubt one of the reasons she makes it appear she goes strictly on business.


Re: Nina: Money and Position and the L-experience

It seems that the male characters in these heroine's texts (Miss M, Nina and Linda) are among the most hard- driving tenacious demanding unpleasant suitors one might come across. Each of them behaves in a way that makes one remember that in the real world people seem to care more about money than anything else. In a real life courtship the man might hide his hunger for money, his resentment at his position in the world, and not begin to prey on the woman he wants to marry him until after the marriage. Not here. What is glimpsed in real life before let's say a marriage or locked-in relationship begins (often this seems to occur with the coarse after sexual intercourse has happened), in these Trollope books occurs from the get-go.

There are books on heroine's texts (two by Nancy Miller are among the most quoted lately), but most of these show the male characters intent on seducing the female, on bringing her down to have sex with him so he won't have to marry her or on getting her to go off with him. Trollope has transformed the subgenre with these males. I look upon them as having a sort of failure of the imagination where it counts.

In life many of us may have come across people like this all too often. I've seen it in my family: all that can be thought of as matter for discussion is money and position. When I'm in such a situation, I either try to turn the conversation, and if that won't do, work to leave as quickly as possible.

The question is, why this hard matter? It's more than the need to create a driving plot with melodrama. Is Trollope somewhere in his mind thinking about how he drives himself to write to get money and position? A seething rage floats much of Nina; it's sombre and controlled in Miss M but clearly there and articulated continually by the nasty characters as well as John Ball himself (30 years of hearing ... &c&c).


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