The Pendulum; Polarization; The Near-Suicide; Prague Pictures in Trollope-l Photo Archives; A New Life? A Fresh Start; What Will Happen Now?; What Will Happen Now: The happiness of exile, a new life: Lady Anna and Nina; Nina and "heroine's texts" by Trollope

P. S. Kroyer's A summer evening on Skaeyen Beach (1899)

Date: Sat, 14 Aug 2004
From: "Geoffrey Swainson"
Subject: Nina Balatka: Chapter XIV: The Pendulum

Chapter XIV

Nina had spoken to Father Jerome about her engagement when the priest had come to see her father. Contrary to her expectations Father Jerome had been very mild with her. She felt much happier and told Souchey that Father Jerome didn’t think so badly of her as did the others. Souchey must have been surprised at this, so he went to the Zamenoys and told Lotta. He was given quite a lecture and was finally convinced that he must save his mistress from marrying a Jew. Almost whatever was necessary would be right.

Souchey was invited to dine again at the Zamenoys by Lotta and when he went there he was spoken to by Madame Zamenoy herself, who had brought another priest to discuss the affair. This other priest gave his opinion that “..things would go very badly with any Christian girl who might marry a Jew.” Souchey accepted this and took on a little commission from Madame Zamenoy which had been arranged by Lotta. Souchey did not take bribes and so Lotta nearly had to promise to marry him before he would take it.

Souchey then went to Trendellsohn’s house in the late afternoon. He was not at ease in going to the Jewish quarter. Trollope comments that as a good Christian, Souchey “..believed that the Jew had obtained Balatka’s money by robbery and fraud.” Lotta had told him that he could do his commission as well with the old man as with Anton. On his own ground Souchey could even be a little insolent to Anton, but he did not dare to be like this to Anton in the Trendellsohn house. He hoped to see the old man and not Anton. The door was open but Souchey missed the bell and so went into the dark passage lit only by a small oil-lamp. He walked slowly and gave a start as he saw a man in front of him. It was Anton who had heard Souchey come in without ringing the bell.

Anton recognised him and asked after Josef Balatka. Souchey replied that although the old man was better today, he would only last another day or so, and that both the doctor and priest said so. Anton then asked whether Souchey had brought any message from Nina. Souchey said that he had not, but that he wanted to speak a word about Nina to Anton. It was very particular. It could really only be whispered into Anton’s ear.

Anton then led Souchey into an adjoining room and asked what Souchey had to tell him. Souchey then told the story, ever afterwards remembering the gloomy chamber and Anton’s silence throughout his story. When he had finished Anton spoke, asking Souchey how much he was to pay him for this information. Souchey answered that Anton was to pay nothing. Anton then replies with surprise, “What! You betray your mistress gratis?” Souchey was at a loss here and said that he loved his mistress and had not betrayed her. Anton then rightly asked him why he had come with this story. Souchey did not know how to answer this and almost told Anton the whole story. However he checked himself, said nothing and left the room and house abruptly.

The next day Nina was attending to her father’s bedside when she heard Anton’s footsteps. She was so pleased that she forgot about needing to forgive him for not trusting her. Anton came in, kissed her and then asked after her father. He was surprised when he heard that the jelly and soup had been brought by Rebecca. He told Nina that they would not stay in Prague when married and that he would not give her back her promises to marry him. Nina was enraptured, but then he asked about the paper, the deeds of the house. Anton said that he did not think that she had it and he thought that she knew nothing of it. Nina asked why he brought this up again. Anton said that he was perplexed about the whole matter, but that Souchey had come yesterday and told him that it was in Nina’s desk. Nina replied that Souchey had to be a liar. Anton said he agreed but said that the desk should be examined so they could know whether it was a lie or not. He then asked Nina whether she would open it or let him Anton open it.

Nina said that she would not unlock it and threw the key on the table. Anton then unlocked the desk and took out the papers. Nina asked whether all her letters were to be read, to which he replied that nothing was to be read. Anton of course found the deed. Nina was shocked, and asked how it got there. He said that obviously Souchey, her aunt and Lotta were not liars when they told him that Nina had the deeds. Then she looked at him and asked him whether he thought that she had robbed him.

This is where Anton says the wrong thing, when he says “I do not know what to think.” Nina picks up the papers and the key and locks her desk again, asking him whether he had finished with her also. Again he says that he wants time to think about what he will do next. Nina asked him at once to tell her what he believed of her. Anton said that he could not tell her that moment but he would send Rebecca over next day. Nina said that she would not see Rebecca, and that she had nothing more to say to him. Then she left him and went to her father. Her father spoke a little but did say that he wished her husband to be was not a Jew.

Anton had gone from the house. Nina thought much about the search and finding of the deeds. She decided that she would never see Anton again, but it hurt her to think that her aunt and Ziska had triumphed over her. She spent most of the day with her father who finally came to his end that night. Souchey helped her but the “.. thought of his treachery was heavy at his heart;” but Nina bore with him and Souchey took over when the old man died. Next morning, her aunt and Lotta came and said that they would leave her there for just one day. The thought of their charity and triumph hurt her; it was a long day. Finally in the evening she gave Souchey a note to take to Anton Trendellsohn. It said that her father was dead and that he could take possession of the property without being bothered by her.

Geoff Swainson

Date: Sun, 15 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Polarization in Nina Balatka

One minute Nina is in seventh heaven, the next, just the opposite. Souchey is subjected to a violent change in emotion when he goes from one barracks to another. Trollope's basket trick is an emotional polarization of Jewish males and females: within one minute's time, we find the girls admirable and the guys hateful. There is polarization between Anton and his father. Anton rushes out of his house, going from one emotional extreme to another under the archway.


Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Nina Balatka: Chapter XV: The Near-Suicide

Chapter XV

Souchey had not liked to take Nina’s note to Anton Trendellsohn that night, but he went. Nina listened and heard him go out and cross the square. It was about eight o’clock and a cold and windy night. She put on her hat and cloak and took the key out of her pocket and put it into the lock of her desk. Then she went to the door of her father’s room, stopped a moment and then went down the stairs and out of the house.

She had decided to make an end of herself by jumping off the bridge into the river. She didn’t want anyone to see her, and kept in the darkness. At the causeway she heard a familiar sound; people were singing vespers. Nina had done this herself before she was engaged to Anton. Now she felt that she could sing vespers again as she was not going to marry Anton. She stopped and sang, but also remembered that if she did do away with herself, the singing would be no help.

But then she thought that perhaps the deed might not be done. Perhaps the saint might after all do something for her. She put a ten kreutzer coin on to the collection plate and saw that the friar recognised her. He at least would be able to say something next day, when her aunt would make inquiries. So she walked on down the bridge. As she was on the wrong side of the bridge she would have to cross over to reach the statue. As the moon suddenly appeared she had to go on and walk to the end of the bridge before crossing over and then returning across the bridge on the same side as the saint’s statue.

She went slowly and had to stop to hear the water passing under the bridge. After much thinking about it, she finally put her hand on the inlaid cross below the statue, and kissed her hand. She heard the last of the vespers being sung, and determined that she would persevere. She thought much about her troubles and decided that the anger of all the saints would be better than any future troubles on earth. She perhaps felt that she would be revenged on Anton. And then she pondered whether the saint might yet save her. She climbed up but took fright when she was on the actual brink and carefully stepped down to think it over again. But then she went back up to the ledge again, and almost made herself let go. She was very cold and thought much about how sinful it was. And then in the darkness she heard a voice. It was Souchey and he was with Rebecca. As they were by the statue, the clouds suddenly cleared and the moon shone bright. Souchey saw his mistress and screamed, but Rebecca leaped forward and grabbed Nina’s skirt. She managed to get Nina down and began to warm her hands and feet. Rebecca then took Nina to her mother’s house, saying that Anton had sent her when they had received the note.

Souchey had then told Anton that it was Lotta who had put the paper in the desk, and that Nina knew nothing about it. Anton’s conscience then troubled him. Rebecca told Nina some of this, but also told her that Anton loved her. She took Nina home with her to her own bed and told Anton that he would hear the rest of the story tomorrow.

Geoff Swainson

Date: Tue, 17 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Nina Balatka, Chap. XV

Nina's attention is occupied by the vesper-singing voices, but it's the voice of the very human Souchey and that of the warm Rebecca which save the day. Dagny has presented some good, interesting pictures at the home site. The Gothic tower is very impressive and imposing, but I don't see any use for it (the Tower) other than to impress and cast shadows---making the cold colder and the gloom gloomier. The Tower is overtopped by the presence of Souchey and Rebecca.


Re: Nina Balatka: The Near Suicide

There are a couple of women suicides in Trollope's oeuvre. The most powerful is that of the young girl in "La Mere Bauche" who jumps over a cliff rather than be married to a man distasteful to her whom her "guardian-employer" is forcing on her to prevent her from marrying this guardian-employer's son. The situation and character types are closely analogous to those we'll find in Linda Tressel. Linda Tressel is franker and different by one: putting the sexual harassment of the girl and accusation of her having sexual appetites (and therefore being foul) at the center of the story; and two) by using the story to explore how religion can be used to veil hatred, bigotry and fear of sex and freedom.

Nina uses drowning. Barbara Gates's book and others have recorded how suicide through drowning was the chosen mode for women in the 19th century. Men will shoot themselves through the head; they will be more violent on themselves. Prints at the time and painting series also play upon this reality.

I find the chapter where Nina comes close one of the most powerful and moving in all Trollope. Her "long day" is echoed in Mr Harding's moving "long day" in London in The Warden, but the Warden skirts the tragic for a tragic pattern. This novella comes to the heart of tragedy and then swerves away. The exploration possible by coming so close is part of its greatness. It's worth it to quote a key passage as in this one we can feel Trollope reliving this experience, the pulse of his nervous energy in and intensely pictorial vivid imagination (not often enough done justice to) is before us:

She had always been conscious, since the idea had entered her mind, that she would lack the power to step boldly up on to the parapet and go over at once . . . She had known that she must crouch, and pause, and think of it, and look at it, and nerve herself with the memory of her wrongs. Then, at some moment in which her heart was wrung to the utmost, she would gradually slacken her hold, and the dark, black, silent river should take her. She climbed up into the niche, and found that the river was very far from her, though death was so near to her and the fall would be easy. When she became aware that there was nothing between her and the void space below her, nothing to guard her, nothing left in the world to protect her, she retreated, and descended again to the pavement. And never in her life had she moved with more care, lest, inadvertently, a foot or a hand might slip, and she might tumble to her doom against her will. Nina Balatka (pp. 183-4)

This time through I was very impressed by Nina's simply shutting Anton out. If he can distrust her to the extent of believing someone who he knows was sent to poison his mind, he's a shallow nothing. He can have no center of integrity in his mind with regard to her. It makes one wonder what will happen when they marry. I am not sure the ending is as happy as people make out. Trollope once (it's said) mistakenly called Nina tragic. Maybe it's not. They do escape Prague.

The two novels center on religious bigotry. I've thought that this was so daring in Trollope's time it's one reason he sought anonymity so strikingly for these two. Several of his novellas utterly ignore the expectations and image of himself (especially in the Barsetshire series) that he thought made his readers buy his books. Alas, this image is still the popular one. Even if film adaptations are changing this, the new image being substituted is no more accurate than the old.


Date: Wed, 18 Aug 2004
From: Dagny

Prague Pictures in Trollope-l Photo Archives

Here is the information on three of the "extra" pictures that I put in the Nina folder at Trollope-l:

Palais Kolowrat in der Waldsteingasse (I. Palliardi). Kolowrat Palace

Loretto. This former place of pilgrimage with a copy of Santa Casa was built in 1626-31, and the Baroque Church of the Nativity of Our Lord was added in 1734-35. The facade of the front wing was rebuilt by K. I. Dienzenhofer in 172O-22. The tower contains 30 loretto bells which play the Song of Our Lady. The most valuable item of the liturgical treasury is the so-called Prague Sun, a monstrance weighing over 12 kg and embellished with more than 6,000 diamonds.

The Old-Town Hall with the Astronomical Clock (horologe) = AstroClock. The Town Hall was founded in 1338. In 1364 the tower was joined to the chapel, and in 1470 the Town Hall was refurbished in Gothic style. The clock dates from the beginning of the 15th century; on the hour, a procession of the Twelve Apostles appears in the window in the upper part. In the lower part are 12 medallions with the signs of the zodiac, created by Josef Manes.


Date: Thu, 19 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Nina Balatka: Chapter XVI: A New Life? A Fresh Start

Chapter XVI

This final short chapter tells us that early in the following year Anton and his wife Nina left Prague to go to one “.. of the great cities of the west.” On the day before, Nina and her friend Rebecca had said farewell. They promised to each other to write often and Nina also promised that if she had a daughter she would name the girl Rebecca.

Rebecca told Anton that she knew he would become rich and great but she asked him not to forget Prague. Anton himself told Nina as they were going that he was leaving behind much that he could not forget.

Nina herself had stayed with Rebecca until her marriage. The Zamenoys had made a statement to the police that Nina was being kept against her will in the Jewish quarter, but Trollope says that “..the accusation was too manifestly false to receive attention even when made against a Jew,”. Nina certainly did not wish to see her aunt or any of the Zamenoys again. She had once come across Lotta Luxa when walking in the street, but had run away with Ruth when Lotta tried to speak to her.

Souchey repented thoroughly of his treachery and spoke his mind to Lotta. He would never now marry her even if she were ten times as rich, for Lotta had nearly driven him to be the murderer of his mistress.

Geoff Swainson

Date: Fri, 20 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Nina: What will happen now?

Thank you to Richard, Geoff and others for their posts on Nina Balatka. There has been some speculation on whether all would end happily ever after for Nina and Anton. Earlier in the book, I had serious doubts but have now come to the conclusion that their marriage will be a success.

First I thought that Nina must love Anton much more than was reciprocated. I now think that Anton loves Nina very much indeed. Anton thinks with his head whereas Nina thinks with her heart. Anton's actions are not spontaneous but thought out, as when he was under the archway but didn't go to the door.

Nina wants a husband that will take charge and make all decisions. She always wanted to abide by Anton's wishes even before they were married.

And Anton? I believe he has learned a very valuable lesson. He will never again doubt Nina, come what may. No matter what evidence might be shown to his intellect, I think in the future that as far as Nina is concerned, he will have complete faith and trust in her.


To Trollope-l

August 20, 2004

Re: Nina Balatka: What Will Happen Now: The happiness of exile, a new life: Lady Anna and Nina

I was thinking that one of the many ways in which Nina reads like a contemporary novel is its equation of exile with happiness. Only by escaping the virulence of nationalism, religious bigotry and the memories of past, can a couple or individual create a new life. Anton's early speech about his dream of standing equal among men in the marketplace situates himself in London.

The ending of Lady Anna is analogous: there too the young couple cannot escape the attitudes of everyone around them to her having been a lady or illegitimate and to his having been a tailor. They elect to go to Australia. It's been said from Trollope's letters and the ending of that book he had in mind a sequel and perhaps a cycle of novels set in Australia.

It's revealing that Andrew Davies's ending for his The Way We Live Now shows us Paul and Hetta running hand-in-hand (reminiscent of the closing scene in Paradise Lost, one echoed by Dickens in his Little Dorrit) to a train to take them to the USA. It's really to anywhere far away from this place where there can be no fresh ideas, no tolerance, no way to create a better life for the pair as a pair.

Exile and the press of history and memory are very typical themes of novels being written today. Sometimes the couple fails to escape; sometimes they go back to the earlier place of memory and the past. We see this in a 19th century novel too: at the close of Daniel Deronda we are to imagine Daniel and his new bride going to Jerusalem. Eliot has been severely criticized by many critics (among them Edward Said) for her naivete in not imagining Palestine was filled with Arabs and non-Jews; this is so. But the motif or trope is the result of a book that attempts to deal with the fanaticisms of nationalism and religion.

The permutations and results various, but the motif or trope is modern. I think it significant that Trollope wrote the novel just after his trip to Prague and the publication of G. H. Lewes's piece on realism and locating fictions in other countries and dealing with social and cultural issues seriously that way. I'd like to end on quoting the ending of the chapter in my book on Lady Anna:

Of course an argument which will be familiar to people who have read other novels by Trollope is Trollope's own that love will not last unless accompanied by social acceptance and by enough money to maintain in comfort and respectability the family that marriage will create. In Lady Anna lawyers, gentry and, in a remarkable speech, a radical Keswick poet all tell Daniel and Anna that 'constancy in love' is not possible when two people are ranked differently by their society. Says the poet: time and life's difficulties will take their toll. While Anna will regret not marrying Daniel, and know 'remorse' and 'sorrow', she will 'yield' to the compromise and learn to love Frederick, her titled husband. When the poet insists about Daniel and Anna's relationship after marriage that 'she is noble, and she will think of it', he is implying that neither Lady Anna nor Daniel will be able to dismiss from their minds the value that others will attribute to her and not attribute to Daniel (pp. 272-73).

Trollope was fascinated by the inability of people to escape the value others impose on them, and he took up the damage and difficulties one's status in society can burden human relationships with in many of his stories. Even if two spouses or two partners (to use a modern term for people who undertake to live together as a couple without marrying) or two family members or long-standing friends understand how inadequate and uncomprehending are the world's labels or measuring rods, can they resist valuing one another more or less because one of them becomes more or less respected by others as the years pass? To understand how relevant the Keswick poet's remarks are in today's terms one need only substitute for the single word, 'rank', the words, 'one's position in a firm' and 'one's salary'. Tony Tanner talks of how in The Way We Live Now Trollope reveals other people will even be energetic in their urge to 'mangle and repress and distort other people's lives according to their ideas' so as to validate how they have lived.

Daniel and Anna know this. While they cannot rid themselves of their 'sore hearts' and memories, like Anton and Nina Trendellsohn at the close of Nina Balatka, at the close of Lady Anna, hero and heroine become exiles. The difference is the mood of the earlier book emphasises a coming hard struggle and need for endurance; the mood of the later is more hopeful about the young married pair. Trollope meant us to see in Daniel and Anna two people who would see many things and grow wiser as they reclaim themselves (in Milton's phrase at the close of Lycidas) in 'fresh woods and pastures new'. Alas that he didn't write down 'their further doings' (p. 513).


Date: Sat, 21 Aug 2004
Subject: [trollope-l] Nina and "heroine's texts" by Trollope

To recap my previous posting, Nina and Lady Anna are closely similar in mood and thrust and they have an analogous intermarriage. Instead of crossing religious lines, the married couple crosses several steps of class lines. I've long thought the conventional splitting and lumping of Trollope's novels obscures the deeper and enlightening connections between the texts.

Nina. While we can hope the young couple will build that new life in London, we are also to see that they will be emotionally isolated, and especially Nina will be. The problem of the immigrant is he or she loses the mores and cultures once so known it need not be thought about. Anton's temperament is not comforting. The same kind of ambiguity hovers over the close of Lady Anna. Anna will be uprooted and her only connection to society will be through a young man whose history of exclusion and stigmatizing has exacerbated his passions and somewhat embittered him.

In Lady Anna this ambiguity is underlined when Anna tries to say goodbye to her mother and reconcile her mother to her marriage. The mother will not, refuses adamently to say she has accepted the marriage, and will not even pretend to reconcile herself to it. This penultimate scene in the novel is painful. In Nina by contrast the presence of Rebecca is an important softener. However, Nina's father is dead and we have no reason to believe she is comfortable with Judaism; indeed far from this, she is instrincally we are to feel very religious and has not been part of a secular world.

If we widen out to the heroine's text we've read this summer, Miss Mackenzie, we can see that it's characteristic of these plot-designs which contain so much misogyny that the ending be ambiguous. This is very like life; it also coheres with the presentation of women's lots and fates in these novels. We do have a depiction of the powerlessness of women. Miss Mackenzie's fate is further ironic as the person who will wither her existence is the "monster" type woman Trollope often uses as a typical woman.

Moving out yet to one further heroine's text -- Rachel Ray -- there the ambiguity of the close comes from the heroine's detaching herself from a timid yet loving mother yet freeing herself of rigid inhibitory and hypocritical fundamentalist religion. She too has a more than tyrannically inclined husband, passionate, upward aspiring. The cheer there comes from her not having to leave her cultural group or the social niche she was born to.

Woolf famously said that Middlemarch was the first adult English novel. I think she had a limited definition of "adult" in mind.

Ellen Moody

Old Jewish Cemetery, Prague

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
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