The Small House and Sense and Sensibility Compared;The Small House at Allington, Chs 1-3: Landscapes, Houses, Characters; Amelia and Lily, Parallel Women; Hay; 'Consider the lilies of the field ... ; Adophus Crosbie & the Two Pearls; Widow Dale and Lady Scatcherd; The Ropers and the Lupexes; Croquet Lawns in a Pastoral; The American Evangelist Fundamentalist View; Upon Rereading The Small House; Croquet lawns and haha ditches and Amish Country

From: Sigmund Eisner
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House at Allington and Sense and Sensibility Compared

March 26, 2000

From: Sigmund Eisner

Today is the day we are allowed our first comments about The Small House at Allington, and I must say first off that it is a pleasure to get back to one of Trollope's better novels, which The Fixed Period was not. Trollope, of course is always a delight to read, but then The Small House is more of a delight than some other Trollope novels.

In preparation for The Small House, I reread Sense and Sensibility. No one can accuse Trollope of copying Austen; in fact no one can accuse Trollope of copying any of the copious great literature which he read. The Dales of the Small House and the Dashwoods have some points in common, but these are surface points. Both families consist of a widowed mother and two daughters. Both families live in houses donated by a more affluent relative. All four daughters are single and nubile. Both younger daughters become far too fond of a cad. These similarities might lead some to think that the two novels are alike. But they are not.

Austen turns her spotlight on the reactions of the elder daughter to the vicissitudes of her family. We see most of the action through Elinor's eyes. Although both Marianne and Lily will ultimately suffer greviously, we see Marianne's misery mostly as Elinor sees it. We see Lily's misery, when it comes, through other eyes. The peripheral characters in these novels are totally unalike. The rich relatives in S&S are mostly described as distant and humorous. Trollope takes the peripheral relatives very seriously. Austen's humor is very funny, especially when she describes characters whose own speech gives them away, for instance, besides John Dashwood in S&S, Mrs. Elton in Emma and Mr. Collins in P& P. Austen, when she wishes to be, can be terribly unforgiving, and she often is with the Dashwoods, Eltons, and Collinses of her novels. Trollope can describe a villain too, but we notice that he is more tolerant toward the sins of Johnny Eames. In the long run, Trollope's heroes and villains are more realistic than Austen's.

Let's take, for instance, Johnny Eames. We have only just met him, but we are told he is a hobbledy hoy, which Trollope describes with a Fielding-like affection. Anyone who is as much in love with Lily Dale, as Johnny says he is, has no business trifling with Amelia Roper. Johnny is much like Tom Jones in that regard. Fielding said something to the effect that a single act no more marks a villain than does a part in a play. Trollope takes that attitude too. A lifetime of wicked deeds does indeed mark a villain, and Trollope does not hesitate to paint such a portrait when the occasion rises. But Johnny Eames, like Tom Jones or Joseph Andrewes, is a pretty good fellow. We can forgive his trifling with Amelia Roper because we know he will never get really serious about her, even though he has already given her to understand that he intends to marry her. I don't think you ever meet a young man like than in Austen.

All this means that Trollope is more realistic than is Austen, but then all of us already knew that.


March 26, 2000

Re: The Small House at Allington, Chs 1-3: Landscapes, Houses, Characters

I read Sig's commentary on the differences between Austen's and Trollope's art and S&S and The Small House with real interest. I like Sig's word, 'unforgiving'. Austen is more unforgiving than Trollope; she is also not a realist in his way; she is a satirist, and she shapes her narratives to make ironic and often harsh points. Not only is there no one like Johnny Eames; there is no one like Mrs Dale. Chapter 3 of this book is plangent. Trollope's grasp of the yearning of the 40 year old mother for sexual and other kinds of vivid exhilarating experiences, for adventure, challenge, and her willingness to give all this up because 1) she can't know it given her position; 2) loved her first husband intensely and her girls now; 3) is deeply proud in the best ways is superb. Mrs Dale cannot be fitted into a satiric perspective.

At the same time, I think the parallels are close and not superficial. We have to wait until later to see them all: just now it is the 2 girls living in a relatives' house with the 40 year old mother; Adolphus Crosbie and John Willoughby. At the opening of S&S Austen sees Marianne from the outside, but as the book progresses I would argue we see Marianne's experience from within, that Elinor is a kind of doppelganger for Marianne, and the kind of deep sympathy for Marianne's erotic enthrallment is rewritten in the character of Lily Dale, with Belle playing the part of the sensitive sensible prudent sister. Yes the emphasis is switched: in Austen Elinor's consciousness is where we dwell, and in The Small House, Lily, or the Marianne character is the consciousness where we dwell.

I suggest to Angela that if she had time (she may not) she reread S&S. I know she takes the train; if she didn't, I would suggest trying to listen to Sarah Badel read aloud dramatically S&S.

I too am much relieved to get back to Barsetshire. Not because I thought _The Fixed Period_ was inferior. I think it's a gem, a Swiftian satire with an intensely poignant autobiographical subtext. However, it is not psychological art; there is a sense in which _The Fixed Period_ is not a novel, but an anomalous satire, which with a novelistic surface and roots (novels are often autobiographies disguised).

This posting is about the first three chapters or first instalment of The Small House. We are introduced to those of our central characters who are attached to or dwell in the Great and Small houses of Allington; Squire Dale, Lilian and Bell Dale, Mrs Dale, Adolphus Crosbie and Bernard Dale. Mostly Dales. Although later on Trollope's hesitation in including The Small House as Barsetshire novel in his An Autobiography, and the lack of an ecclesiastical set of characters and the Barsetshire countryside itself would make us wonder if the book is a Barset, the nostalgia and intense self-conscious celebration of the county countryside suggests Trollope at least was aiming at the audience of Framley Parsonage. Between Framley Parsonage and The Small House, Trollope wrote a bunch of short stories, Orley Farm and North America. He returns to the reader of the Cornhill whose yearning for some idealised pastoral vision of the English countryside Framley ParsonageBarchester Towers and the Ullathorne's house), to the shrewd depiction of the way the Dales have held onto their property. The whole way Trollope slowly builds the pictures, telling us how the houses relate to one another reminds me of Dr Thorne and Framley Parsonage.

The characters are all new and fascinating. One could argue that Trollope has reached a new level of psychological perspicacity in this book. I liked the lack of idealism in the depiction of the characters. There are also many foreshadowings of what's to come, especially in the narrator's insistence on Squire Dale's meanness over money, his obstinacy, and rigidity of perspective. Adolphus the 'swell'. There's more slang. It connotes a dandy, a fop, but one who is unpleasant in his self-satisfaction, someone who swaggers, someone who is a snob. I think of the old Aesop fable about the toad who swelled himself up and burst. Lily is intensely attracted to Adolphus and there is a real sensuality about the scene beneath the tree where Lily and Bernard and Adophus cover one another with hay. She therefore insults him, ironises about him; it's a form of sexual teasing, the kind of sex antagonism which comes out of attraction we find in Darcy and Elizabeth in P&P. Each stroke filling in Lily's pysche is well done: I had not realised she was such a tease; she cannot forbear making her sister uncomfortable either. Perhaps here Trollope is looking forward to her comeuppance too -- that is not just Adolphus will be taught a hard lesson. Lily will too. She is rash, unthinking and passionate from the moment we meet her.

There were so many good passages in just these three chapters I don't know which to quote. I like the harsh description of how Squire Dale actually looks: a face that informs he is not a man of great parts, capacity or generosity. I find sharp the description of Bernard Dale's father and mother at Torquay Bath as useless forlorn figures wandering with one daughter among 'the Torquay card-tables.' The analysis of Bernard reminds me of people I have known: 'By industry, by a small but wakeful intelligence, and by some aid from patronage, he had got on till he had almost achieved the reputation of talent. His name had become known among scientific experimentalists ...' He need not shoot off canons, but only understand them (Everyman Small House, ed DSkilton, Ch 2, p. 12). Best of all was the quiet use of imagery at just the right moments, never too much, not ostentatious, natural: 'And if it should come, and should be happy, might there not be a bright evening of life for herself' (Ch 3, p. 27).

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

RE: Small House, Chs 4-6: Amelia and Lily, Parallel Women

The scenes in Allington and Mrs Roper's boarding-house have much sexual innuendo. I think to myself that as with Is He Popenjoy? had Trollope written this book in this decade how much more frank he could have been. Trollope description of the Lupexes adds to the innuendo about wolves and prostitutes. We are told Mrs Lupex's 'nose isn't quite straight', that it was 'a long thin nose, which, as it progressed forward into the air, certinaly had a preponderating bias to the left side' (Everyman Small House, Ch 4, p. 37). Just a little later Cradell says he has an 'idea that Lupex treats her very badly'; Johnny adds to this that he 'fancies it's quite the other way', and 'That Lupex has quite as much as he likes of Mrs L. The sound of her voice sometimes makes me shake in my shoes'. When Lupex comes home, the atmosphere becomes unpleasant, everyone scatters. The innuendo or implication is of brutality: Mr L beats Mrs L and has hit her nose that bad it is awry. She gives as good as she gets. One cause is justified sexual jealousy.

The notes Skilton provides explicating some of Trollope's references to places and use of phrases whose hum and buzz he expects us to know (but we can't living so much after him) turn Amelia Roper into someone who has given sex for money, jobs, or simply had it for fun casually. Skilton quotes some rhymes about the Cremorne Gardens and Henry Mayhew's unusually explicit description of them as a place prostitutes went to, as well as young men looking for lower-class girls to pick up. N. John Hall is among those who see in Johnny's liaison with Amelia Roper a reflection of Trollope's affairs as a young men with similar young women (this would also connect to Charlie Tudor in The Three Clerks).

The phrase 'first young lady in a milinery establishment in Manchester' is even more loaded: Skilton tells us 'such "young ladies" were chosen for their appearance, as they modelled clothes for customers. The occupation was associated with loose living or outright prostitution; again Henry Mayhew has some choice words, and Arthur Munby on the milliner: 'they have all the temptations and none of the safe-guards of the classes above and below them".

Trollope goes as far as he dares in a middle class novel to suggest to us that behind the scenes Johnny and Amelia indulge in a good deal of sex (if not 'going all the way' -- to use a phrase Tyler now tells me is still used by people who regard sex as a kind of negotiated battle, something sordid by which you gain something).

On previous readings I never much thought about the parallels between Lily and Amelia: I saw them as a study in contrast. But after all, Johnny thinks he is above Amelia, and she is far too open and hasty to catch him; the same paradigm is found in Lily's relationship with Crosby. As I said earlier, I agree with Joanna Trollope's assessment of Lily's sexual experience as an engaged girl. Trollope tells us Lily has that kind of pride which guarantees self-respect which passage is his way of saying she is chaste, but chastity and no sex during the time you are engaged to the man you are going to marry are different things. I agree with Catherine that the scene in the Hay is sensual and suggestive. So too and much more the later walks Lily takes with Crosby. Now the way Trollope writes about the hay and later walks in the garden moonlight make me feel we are in a pastoral, idyllic moments of erotic contentment; however, the dramatic relationships between the two couples (Johnny and Amelia, Adolphus and Lily) bring the power basis of the relationship, the ugly games of status which affect love to the fore. One problem in reading the novel is people sometimes tend to make of Johnny Eames an innocent, a good guy, all hero, and Adolphus Crosbie, the corrupt, weak guy, all betraying villain. Look at little closer and you see they share traits and behaviors.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

From Catherine Crean"
Subject: [trollope-l] Small House: Hay

From: "Catherine Crean"

I notice that in A Small House at Allington there are many mentions (at least in Crosbie's own recollections) of Lily Dale and "fields." Crosbie thinks of walking with Lily through the fields. Is this symbolic? I think it is. Fields have romantic resonance. Also, in the chapters we just read, there is a scene where the characters cover each other in hay while frolicking on a walk. This passage stands out in my mind. I can't recall Trollope writing another like it, and at first glance, the passage seems odd, at least to me. When I think of fields I think of openness, cultivation, harvesting, and sunlight. If you look at how many times Trollope associates Lily Dale with fields (in Crobie's mind) it is quite striking.

Catherine Crean

From: "Angela Richardson" Reply-To: Subject: [trollope-l] Small House and S&S Lily and Marianne

From: "Angela Richardson"

As you say, Catherine, it will be splendid to discuss The Small House. I've been thinking about Lily and Marianne. Trollope makes it clear to us that she is intelligent and witty right from the start, but I am not sure that we feel that way about Marianne, perhaps because Austen keeps telling us she and her mother need moderating. On the other hand, it doesn't seem that Lily reads very much - she certainly doesn't ask Crosbie to read aloud from Romantic poets as I recall.


I responded to Catherine's too: Re: 'Consider the lilies of the field ...

First I quoted the Bible:

'Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field ...' (Matthew 6:28; see also Luke 12:27).

Catherine's observation of Trollope's association with Lily Dale (a field implied in the name) with fields suggests that memories of the famous Biblical passage were in Trollope's mind when he named his 'favorite heroine'. We should remember that Trollope did not become irritated by Lily Dale until years had gone by and his readers had turned her into a symbol of 'pure love', a saint he never intended her to be. When talking with Bret Harte, he is still calling her the heroine I loved best (or words to this effect) and sensitive to jokes about her.

The Biblical phrase takes us in two directions back into the novel. One on the one hand, there is the intense eroticism of the book. We have many scenes, dialogues, bits of letters which are suffused with an intense emotionalism (as in the opening of Chapter 6). This strong emotion about love seems to me something new in Trollope, at least I don't remember it in the earlier novels. It sort of leaks everywhere and into everything in the book. We can see it in the portrait of Mrs Dale's longing, the quiet intensity of Belle. Trollope wanted to call his book the 'Two Pearls of Allington'. I am glad he didn't; that feels so cloying to me. However, the title suggests he meant to focus on the intense erotic feminine mood which Lily's story draws upon. 'Pearl' too recalls Shakespeare's Othello who alludes to another Biblical passage at the end of the play, about the merchant who threw the richest pearl away.

This gets me to the other theme the Biblical passage opens up. In Chapter 6 Trollope wastes no time showing us the small-mindedness and shallow worldly-selfish nature of Adolphus. From the moment of the engagement, Crosbie has in mind what he can get out of old man Dale. His love for Lily is limited. Only if she comes arrayed with a rich man's luxury goods, only if she adds to his income, does he want her; he is already hesitating over his engagement ('Could it be that he, Adolphus Crosbie should settle down on the north side of the New Road, as a married man, with eight hundred a year?', Everyman The Small House, ed DSkilton, Ch 6, p. 53). We are told that Lily's ideas about money in her marriage, were vague, but they were 'very honest' (p. 53). She is ready to accept what is really available to her from her husband's income and live within it. The implication is not Adolphus, and within two pages, we find him sneaking about Bernard's state of mind, ferreting out what the Squire is going to do for Lily. As the opening couple of pages of Chapter 6 is suffused with intense idealistic emotionalism, so the closing pages show us two narrow minded, cold men, Bernard and the Squire, and in Bernard's conversation with Crosbie and the Squire's with Bernard we have in little the tragedy of Adolphus and Lily (for it is a tragedy for Adolphus who throws away his pearl) to come. Indeed the opening pages of the book which show us how the Squire never gives graciously even that which he thinks the world's conventions demand that he give contain in them the reasons for the failure of Adolphus to come -- though it is Adolphus's failure

I so admire how Trollope can capture the kinds of minds we find in the Squire and Bernard. In later books he seems intent on shoving these kinds of minds as in charge of the world in our faces (Is He Popenjoy?), in these earlier books he is more detached. Who cannot understand why Mrs Dale is not eager to dine with the Squire? In a quiet note we can remember how such people unknown to themselves -- as too thick, too dense, too unimaginative -- poison other people's moments. Existence exists in moments. All else fleets away as unreal.

To return to Catherine's idea about imagery of the fields, I can't too strongly recommend a highly readable book by Juliet McMasters called The Palliser Novels. She opens the book with a chapter on The Small House as the prelude to the second series. She includes a wonderful chapter showing how not only in the Palliser books but many of Trollope's landscape and houses are metaphorically used. She talks at length about the sensuality of the imagery in much of the landscape scenes in the Barsetshire and Palliser books. I always remember the fells in Can You Forgive Her? (where Alice walks with Kate, and then George with each of them -- Gothic traces are found in these and other scenes in the Pallisers.)

Thus I agree with Angela about how we slowly move into the world of Allington, but I think this slow movement and creation of a landscape is also found in Dr Thorne and Framley Parsonage. I suggest it is the mark of a series for Trollope: he has in his mind he is returning to a kind of book he has been writing in the Barsetshire type. He does the same kind of filling in of streets, places, and expansive movement into past history in the third of the Irish books (Castle Richmond) and also The American Senator. In my book I argue the Irish books should be read as a series, and there are others who have agreed; I have also come across the idea that in The American Senator Trollope was again building a landscape he meant to come back to, and we find that is true as its world is found in Ayala's Angel.

Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

March 29, 2000

Re: The Small House: Adophus Crosbie & the Two Pearls

I forgot to include a sharp line written by our narrator on the reality that Adolphus could have had Belle had he wanted her: 'It is almost sad to think that such a man might have had the love of either of such girls, but I fear that I must acknowledge it was so' (Everyman Small House, Ch 6, p. 49).

The narrator of the Barsetshire books is ever tactful, touches on sore realities of our worlds in a back-handed way again and again, lest of course he offend the reader of circulating library books. But he wants them to see who it is to whom they would allow themselves to be erotically enthralled.

I have to say I see much of the patterning of Sense and Sensibility in The Small House. Marianne's relationship will Willoughby is repeatedly in deep psychological and more detailed realistic terms in that of Lily and Crosie. Belle is a variant on Elinor Dashwood. These 6 chapters even have several analogues to those who know S&S.

The general ones: both Mrs Dale and Mrs Dashwood are widows of 40; both have longings for sexual life and adventure themselves. There is the small house on the great estate -- rent-free. There is the denseness and dullness of the inhabitant(s) of the great house.

The specific: When Mrs Dale says she would not interfere, she is repeating the behavior of Mrs Dashwood who will not interfere. Finally when Belle and Lily discuss how much money is a 'decent income' for a married life to begin with, they recall a conversation beween Marianne and Elinor in which they discuss what is a competence and what luxury. Trollope reverses the roles: Marianne Dashwood is not sure that 2000 is a competence (because, alas, could one keep horses on that, and Willoughby has to keep horse); Elinor says to her 2000 is luxury. Lily wants a 'some decent income' and it turns out this would be 800 (just Adolphus's salary -- how about that for a coincidence?); Belle has high-flown notions as to the absolute glory of poverty' (which recalls Marianne's sentiments until she cites the actual sum she knows she and Willoughby would need). Later on Belle's doctor will recall the character of Austen's Brandon in a couple of way. This may come from the typing that is often at the heart of characterisation in the so-called realistic novel. Novels are not finally realistic, they depend on certain stereotypes of conventional life. That Lily and Elinorboth draw is probably a result of both authors depicting the same milieu and type of heroine, but the parallel is intriguing in the context of the parallel paradigms and specific close analogues.

Yes the early book is satiric and sharp; this one psychological and realistic, but both authors are on about the same thing.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Reply-To: Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House: Widow Dale and Lady Scatcherd


I wish to compare Widow Dale to Lady Scatcherd because when I began to read the chapter entitled "The Widow Dale of Allington" (chapter 3), the early descriptions of her reminded me of how Lady Scatcherd was presented in Dr. Thorne. I recall when we read that novel that Ellen remarked how Trollope wants us to praise Lady Scatcherd as a worthy woman who knows her place and devotes all her care to her husband, much as the Widow Dale seems to do for her daughters. People may recall that when we read Framley Parsonage, I was quite outraged by Lady Scatcherd's situation as described when Dr. Thorne went to visit her while trying to decide if he should marry Miss Dunstable. I felt that Lady Scatcherd deserved happiness after all the years she put up with Sir Roger and experienced class displacement. I could not believe Trollope was so cruel in his treatment of her, and I'm still a bit angry with him over that.

I was very struck, therefore, by his description of the Widow Dale as self-sacrificing because I was allowing the narrator into lulling me into the belief that I was supposed to admire the Widow Dale for her self-sacrifice for her daughters. Then suddenly, there was that overpowering narrative voice: "I think that Mrs. Dale was wrong. She would have joined tha tparty on the croquet ground, instead of remaining among the peasticks with her sun-bonnet, had she done as I would have counselled her" (22, the Trollope Society edition). In fact, I was struck throughout these six chapters by the intruding voice of the narrator giving personal opinions, something I expect from Trollope, but which seemed more frequent here than in the previous Barchester novels. Trollope is absolutely right, she shouldn't place herself in this position, but I am so used to Victorian novels that suggest women should be self-sacrificing, as are Dickens's Esther Summerson or George Eliot's Dorothea Brooke. Somehow, Trollope seems rather radical here to me. When he also states that the Dale sisters think their mother really does not like to go places, I felt admiration for her sacrifice all the more, but then the narrator states that both girls will eventually know that wasn't so, and how much their mother has suffered for their sakes. I will be curious to see if they feel their mother has suffered needlessly, as the narrator suggests, or if the other characters will praise the mother for her sacrifices.

Tyler Tichelaar

Date: Fri, 31 Mar 2000 17:58:31 -0500
From: "R J Keefe"
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House: Widow Dale and Lady Scatcherd

We shouldn't overlook this very important difference between Mrs. Dale and Lady Scatcherd: Mrs. Dale has had some kind of education. I don't mean book-learning so much as the finishing that distinguished a lady from a woman. A good deal of this finishing had the side effect of teaching a lady what she might do with her spare time. It's the want of this education that makes Lady Scatcherd's life an ironic desert. Mrs. Dale endures heavy thoughts, it's true, but I imagine that Lady Scatcherd would welcome the interest of some misfortune.

It seems clear to me, moreover, that Trollope's sympathies are determined by whether or not a character - particularly a female character - has had the (some would say: arguable) benefit of a finishing education. Far more than money or birth, it's what makes ladies and gentlemen. It is inconceivable that Lady Mason would have been treated so delicately had her manner been like Lady Scatcherd's.

RJ Keefe

Re: The Small House: Widow Dale and Lady Scatcherd

To Tyler and Trollope-l friends,

Isn't it fascinating how the narrator of the Barsetshire books lulls us into thinking we are supposed to admire the conventional, lulls us so strongly through the conventional elements of the story and its nostalgic tones that when we come across a direct contradiction of cant, we are startled -- or overlook it.

I suspect the ploy is deliberate.

I too found Trollope's treatment of Lady Scatcherd uncomfortably dismissive and comic. Her grief for the alcoholism and death of her husband and son are done justice to, but the depth of the burden she carries about by merely being alive is trivialised by the comic treatment of her. I was even more bothered by his treatment of Sir Louis Scatcherd. Only Sir Roger is mostly consistently treated with real respect and his alienation given the sympathetic analysis it deserves

Tyler might want to know of a very good book which compares Trollope to a number of Victorian writers (including George Eliot) and finds that in comparison to most Trollope is highly unconventional in his attitude towards what was considered virtue for women: Rajiva Wijeskinha's The Androgynous Trollope (University Press of America, 1972). Unfortunately this is not an easy book to get. It is done in the curious typed form I increasingly find books of literary scholarship in. I got it through interlibrary loan and then xeroxed the relevant chapters. I did think of this book when I read the opening pages of the book where we are given old rural country landscape drenched in nostalgia. These reminded me of the opening landscape in George Eliot's Felix Holt. She does the same thing, partly in order to undercut it.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Catherine Crean"
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House: The Ropers and the Lupexes

From: "Catherine Crean"

In The Small House at Allington I enjoy Trollope's portrayal of boarding house life, a life with which he probably had some experience. The notes to my Oxford World's Classics tell me that "Lupex" is a name meant to hint at wolves or prostitutes. I just thought Lupex was a funny Trollopian name. Making Mr. Lupex a "scene painter" is another example of Trollope's using his knowledge of artists and "la vie Boheme" in his books. The theatrical world and all its associations are a fitting counterpoint to Johnny Eames' life at the boarding house. The name "Roper" is in and of itself a funny name. Of course, there is always the suggestion that Amelia Roper is, Ado Annie style, trying to "rope" a man for herself. I know there are people who find the comedy here a bit too broad, but I am loving it. I keep thinking of Trollope's autobiography when he writes about Johnny Eames, especially the bits about his long walks where he creates dialogues with himself. Johnny is too real and too sympathetic to be the buffoon. Ellen and Sig, your posts have gotten this discussion off to a grand start!

Catherine Crean

To Trollope-l

March 30, 2000

RE: The Small House: Croquet Lawns in a Pastoral

I agree there is much pastoral imagery in these opening two instalments. Now that Catherine brought up croquet lawns what strikes me is how modern the pastoral imagery is. Most pastoral poetry uses Renaissance, classical or archetypal poetry which places the character types in an eternal realm of otium, eros, and melancholy (_Et in Arcadia Ego_ as Poussin's painting has it). Trollope is ever the contemporary man: he brings in precisely contemporary doings and behaviors to give the reader a variant on the pastoral he or she can identify with.

We might look upon Johnny Eames as the shy bumpkin type found frequently in pastorals. Shakespeare has a version of such a one in As You Like It. I refer to Silvius, the shepherd who lives permanently in the forest and is rejected by Phoebe partly because he isn't aggressive enough.

Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

From: "Andrea Vangor"

From: "Andrea Vangor"

I think you are missing the point of the traditional Christian point of view that is expressed by Trollope, and that was understood by most of his audience without belaboring the point. A woman who is chaste acquires power thereby, and openly displays that power in society when she chooses a husband, or alternatively chooses not to have one. Her actions, even small ones, are momentous because she is the possesser of real power, sharing with God the potential ability to create a new life. Owning a female body in this view is rather like owning a nuclear reactor, that might blow up the whole community if not managed properly. It matters less which man she might end up marrying, than that she exercises the power of her chastity in the process of selecting a husband. The exercise of female power derived from chastity is the basic drama here, and one that was appreciated and celebrated by traditional Christian society, some vestiges of which remained in Victorian England.

Andrea Vangor

To Andrea,

No. I was merely telling the truth about how I read the books.

I don't think Trollope wrote in the sense you outline either. Evangelicals did.

It is a pastiche of twentieth century American fundamentalism criss-crossed by your own sexual hang-ups and dreams. Perhaps you should reread what Trollope says about his meaning in his various autobiographical and critical writings as well as what he literally says in his novels for the tone and quality of his mind and the nature of his psychological and ethical outlook.

Ellen Moody

From the first group read facilitated by Penny:

From: Frazer Wright Re: Upon Rereading The Small House

Frazer quoted Penny

On 26 April, Penny Klein wrote:

"For those of you re -reading it, how does it compare with the first time? do you understand more of the themes and character motivations? Are you enjoying it more now or less?"

I am going back to SHA after a year or so, since when I have also devoured Dr Thorne. This time round, I am beginning to appreciate the complex society network that is, or was Trollope's Barset. I believe I am enjoying it more, because I can concentrate harder on the detail and not be wooed away by the plot. This time, for instance, I was much more aware of what a mysoginist Squire Dale was, certainly as far as his brothers' wives were concerned. (Although it must be said he doted on the two Dale children - probably because they did not threaten his immediate family hierarchy, but could be fussed over and treated occasionally - rather like his family pets.)

And how, after her initial courtesies were rebuffed, how Mrs Dale proved equally cold to him. Like two icebergs in the Arctic, they flowed with the same tide, apart, yet linkd by inextricable ties of family.

As for Lily, it is too early in the book for me to feel amything stronger than mild annoyance at her transparent coquettishness. Johnny Eames is a yokel who has been lucky enough to land a decent job. He may have the ability to do the job, but he is immature, calculated and conceited in his flirtation with the ageing Amelia. What we in Britain today would call laddish behaviour - Trolloppe called it hobble-de-hoyhood - he was after an easy conquest and to hell with the consequences on her.

Those are my impressions (I am trying *not* to skip to deeper in the book.) This time round, I am appreciating Trollope's concentration on English society, its structure and its class lines. In fact, the more Trolloppe I read, the more I am convinced (uneasily so) that this English class structure, as strict and multi-layered as any caste system, is at the root of much of his fiction.

I did like the beautifulk description of Allington through the Squire's estate, its village and its church. I could take you to a village only a half dozen miles from where I live which is still Allington in almost everything. Except road traffic and satellite dishes.


From Judith Moore in response to Penny:

It's been about twenty years since I first read SHA, so it barely counts as re-reading, but I'm particularly taken this time with Trollope's authorial voice, constantly encouraging fairness to characters and gently chiding snap judgments. He finds Lily's manners more charming than twentieth-century readers are likely to do, but the detail in which he builds up the picture of Allington society makes everybody's quirks and limitations credible, sympathetic or not. Lily's world is tiny! Johnny's misadventures at Mrs. Roper's boarding house are what might be expected of someone coming from that circumscribed and innocent milieu, in which Bell and Dr. Crofts, who in fact love each other, are in danger of never saying so because they keep saying what they ought to think instead of what they actually do. Even Adolphus and Bernard aren't simply thrown to the wolves--they can be seen as meaning well even when they can also be seen as venal and shallow. They reinforce each other, though, as Johnny and Cradell do and, among the women, Lily, Bell, and Mrs. Dale. Women encourage "womanliness" in each other and men encourage laddishness or, on a more elevated but still fatal-to-honesty mannner, gentlemanliness. Trollope's position seem to be that given the complexity of living with other human beings, individuals should be spared the harshest of judgments. Even the Lupexes aren't without dimension. However dim my earlier memories, it's a pleasure to be re-reading this book.

Judith Moore

Back to the second group read:

Date: Wed, 29 Mar 2000 18:13:50 -0000 From: "Catherine Crean"
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House: Croquet lawns and haha ditches

From: "Catherine Crean"

My husband and I were in the Pennsylvania Dutch country over the weekend. The Amish and Mennonites who live there still drive horses and buggies and dress in old-fashioned ("plain") clothes. I think most people are familiar with the Amish and know that they eschew any modern technology such as electricity and try to live simple lives. The men and women wear black clothing that looks like something out of the 19th century. The girls and women wear white caps and aprons. The countryside in Pennsylvania was beautiful - rolling hills with the fields just plowed and trees coming into bud. I kept thinking about Belle and Lily Dale. Lo and behold! We saw two young ladies in long dresses with neat caps on their heads walking through a field. I wish I could have said that the girls were carrying a basket filled with their quilting pieces, but they were carrying ugly white plastic bags like the kind you get in grocery stores! We also passed a farmhouse with a lush lawn in the front. Two little Amish boys were playing croquet on the lawn. **That's a sight I haven't seen in some time. Lily Dale is "the queen of the croquet court" as we all know. Trollope uses references to Lily and her prowess on the croquet court to talk to symbolize her mastery of her little domain. Interesting, too is the observation that Lily's lawn is perfect for croquet - - level and neat, while the squire's lawn is riddled with "tufts" The romantic Lily wants to dance on the lawn although most of her guests don't find this as enjoyable as dancing indoors. We have another reference to haha fences in The Small House at Allington. (Trollope sets scenes in and by hahas in Barchester Towers as well.) Austen uses hahas in Mansfield Park . To me, hahas symbolize "invisible barriers." There are many elements of landscape in play in The Small House at Allington. Some of these references build and reinforce the pastoral scenery in the Novel. I think that Trollope uses scenic elements in a symbolic way as well. Do other readers find this so?

Catherine Crean

** We also saw two Amish boys roller blading!

Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 06:49:51 -0000
Groups-From: "Catherine Crean"
Subject: [trollope-l] Sense and Sensibility

I enjoyed the posts from Ellen and Sig comparing A Small House at Allington with Sense and Sensibility and I hope that people will continue to post on this topic. As we get further along in the book I am noticing Mrs. Dale more and more. She wants to give her daughters every chance to be happy but sometimes I think she is too trusting of people around her. Her family doesn't know much about Crosbie, and yet he enjoys an intimacy with the family. Didn't Mrs. Dale have an idea that the squire would want his heir to marry Belle? Mrs. Dale seems like a very "hands off" parent to me. She seems like Mrs. Dashwood in this regard. Crosbie is not the obvious rake that Willoughby is, but why is Crosbie the fox allowed into the Dale dovecote?

Catherine Crean

Date: Sun, 2 Apr 2000 12:18:02 -0700 (PDT)
Groups-From: Dagny
Subject: [trollope-l] Small House, chapters 1-6

A last minute comment on the initial section of The Small House at Allingto.

At the beginning of Chapter IV when Trollope has described Johnny Eames as a hobbledehoy he goes on to compare hot house fruit with naturally ripened fruit and how fruit allowed to ripen in its own time should have the better flavour.

I love this passage. It is one of the most evocative passages I believe I have read in many years.


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