Date: Tue, 16 May 2000 12:20:30 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House: Why Is Lily Not Angry? Why does she read Carlyle's French Revolution
I found this week's reading as interesting as ever although I find it hard to believe that Lily Dale does not show more anger toward Crosbie. In Chapter 54, "Valentine's Day at Allington", Lily is too too sentimentalized and sacrificial. Her remarking that she would like to be the godmother of Crosbie's child is especially difficult to believe. The chapter is saved only by her breaking down an crying at the end, revealing how brave she is trying to be but still how much she is hurting. Still, she out to stamp her foot like Bill does.
Could anyone suggest a reason for Lily wanting to read Carlyle's French Revolution at the end of the chapter and why she defends Louis XVI and Charles I. Does she equate them with Crosbie as oppressors who were not as bad as everyone claims?
Also, I was struck by the illustration of Crosbie and Lady Alexandrina entitled, "Why on Earth on Sunday?" I agree with Ellen that Alexandrina's face is overdone, but what about Crosbie's. I guess I have not paid close enough attention to the earlier illustrations because I was surprised that Crosbie has a beard - was this mentioned earlier in the book. Of course, beards were fashionable at the time, but I wonder what Trollope or Millais is trying to suggest by giving Crosbie a beard, while Johnny Eames is smoothfaced. I notice that Earl de Guest also has a beard, but his is only on his chin and does not cover his full face. Is this suggestive that Crosbie's true nature and character are hidden while Johnny's true character is easily readable. Any thoughts on this, or similar examples of how beards are used in other Victorian novels?
May 16, 2000
Re: The Small House at Allington: Varieties of Self-tormenting
Dagny mentioned that one way of looking at this week's chapters is to see the characters as people who want what they can't have; once they can have what they long for, they reject it. I agree with Tyler that the depiction of Lily's behavior when she hears of Crosbie's wedding seems to go over the top. It is just so self-sacrificial. One could get very Freudian and admire Trollope for suggesting that Lily feels that the child she would have had with Crosbie is going to emerge from the wrong womb, and her desire to be the godmother is Trollope's way of hinting to us that her deepest pain is she is replaced as a sex partner and the woman who will therefore bear Crosbie's children. We could admire Trollope for having this insight without having had to bother read later 19th century psychology. She is also advertising to all how punished she is; it is a form of passive-aggression which hurts her sister and mother as the only people within her reach. In comparison, when Austen depicts Marianne reading a February newspaper in front of her mother and sister, Marianne just quietly dissolves into crying and goes back to bed. The fact of the marriage actually helps her to go out sooner: it's all over. We might say Austen shows the probable and usual here, Trollope the extreme.
Still it is cloying and somehow doesn't ring quite true.
There is, though, this second pattern it fits into for this instalment: self-tormenting. Not only do the characters desire what they can't have once they can't have it, they do all they can to torment themselves. Trollope is interested in perversities of behavior. People often quote his comment in He Knew He Was Right on the jealous Louis Trevelyan's desire to gather proof his wife has betrayed him sexually: anyone who is surprised or incredulous 'do not understand that a man may be brought to hope that which of all things is the most grievous to him'; they 'have not observed with sufficient closeness the perversity of the human mind'. Lily is perverse, tormenting herself perversely -- and this is not uncommon among Trollope characters. It fascinates him. In this sequence Crosbie has chosen a self-tormenting path, Johnny, Mr Lupex, Mr Cradell. We have comic analogues for the grave anguish of Lily and Crosbie.
Here's a guess at why Trollope has Lily want to read Carlyle's French Revolution. The passage occurs in a sequence in which the characters discuss how rare is the gift of understanding what you read, whether they prefer a hard or easy-to-understand book. Pilgrim's Progress and Paul and Virginie and Robinson Crusoe are all didactic fictions with exemplary characters. Then a bit later Lily says that Bell is a radical and that's why she likes Carlyle's interpretation of the French revolution. This harks back to the earlier conversation they had about what makes for good fiction. Bell wanted it to be true; Lily wanted it to be pleasant. Now Bell is said to like Carlyle's book and Lily persists in disagreeing with it, disliking it. My guess is we again have Lily preferring some idealised simpler book; she is a sentimentalist. You don't have to be radical to understand Carlyle presents a sophisticated and hard view of reality in his fiction. Lily is misunderstanding him, as she has not understood herself very well. She is in a torrent of emotions she can't escape from. By contrast, Bell is the realistic, reasonable, sensible sister -- though she too loves, albeit quietly. Again I see aspects of Austen's Marianne and Elinor Dashwood here.
Beards were so ubiquitous you can't really argue persuasively that Trollope made Crosbie bearded to make him sexy. Yet they were seen as emblems of masculinity, signs -- as long hair for women was an emblem of femininity and in painting is a sign of a sexualised female (think of the Pre-Raphaelite paintings). In comparison, Johnny not having a beard makes him seem a boy. In Dr Thorne Frank Gresham is superproud of his beard when he returns from the continent: he has had girlfriends while gone; lived and seen a lot; it's a sign of manhood.
Cheers to all,
Date: Sun, 14 May 2000 13:58:38 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] SMA: Do we want what we can't have?
We have for a while now been seeing Crosbie's regret at throwing over Lily in favor of Alexandrina--and even worse, in his mind, for expected benefits that he now does not foresee receiving (money and political favours).
Now we come to Plantagenet Palliser's conversation with his uncle, the Duke of Omnium. Ah, had the uncle only kept quiet and let Plantagenet enjoy Lady Dumbello's company in his own quiet, innocent way instead of trying to put a stop what was only rumoured.
A quote from the book: "Lady Dumbello had been nothing to him. But now,--now" Is this a case of forbidden fruit?
Then along comes Johnny Eames. This poor boy has been trying to get rid of Amelia Roper for months, even after he believed there was no chance of his obtaining Lily Dale. Amelia decides to flirt with Cradell to get Johnny's attention and make him jealous. Does it work? Yes, so well that Johnny actually wants to thrash Cradell. AND, thrash him as he leaves for Australia and most certainly not taking Amelia with him.
I'm very much ejoying this week's installments.
Date: Mon, 15 May 2000 05:47:24 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House: Mrs Dale Thanks Ellen for information on the Mrs Dale front.
Is it because he is making these references to S&S that we get such an unusual mother in the Trollope range? Or am I wrong to feel this?
Are there any other mothers like Mrs Dale in other Trollope novels who stand back from the marriage market?
This last post of Ellen's post reminded me very strongly of Crosbie in The Small House at Allington He regretted, even before his marriage the giving up of Lily Dale. I think he even specifically said to himself that even had he had all that he expected to have from the de Courcys that it would not have been worth giving up Lily.
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 12:12:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's perception of men
Ellen said what I was trying to say, but in a much better manner.
Yes, Ellen, you did use the word "puppets" rather than "sticks" and puppets is the more accurate word, but Dickens does have in depth psychological portraits - perhaps not as drawn out as Trollope's however. But I think that Sidney Carton is a notable example, and also Esther Summerson. There is plenty that can be written about her from a psychological perspective.
Your mention of Sir Charles Grandison reminds me of an interesting article by Margaret Anne Doody where she discusses the development of men as rounded characters in nineteenth century literature compared to eighteenth century male characters like Sir Charles Grandison. She largely attributes this increase in male roundedness to the Gothic tradition which allowed men to be vulnerable, fearful, guilty etc. Both Crosbie and Johnny Eames seem indebted to this tradition in my opinion.
The Small House appears to be the finest of Trollope's novels in the Barchester series so far. I am increasingly more surprised that he is completely ignored in English departments that study literature. I never read one of his novels in a course, or even recall him being mentioned. But then, novels in general are often ignored, and even the great Dickens is usually restricted to Hard Times, perhaps his poorest novel, but his shortest and so the most accessible to students it is believed.
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 12:19:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope and the American Transcendentalists
Besides my increasing fondness for Trollope, I am very interested in early American literature. I am currently reading James Mellow's Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times. Hawthorne was a great fan of Trollope, and his remarks upon Trollope seem exact for what Trollope has done in The Small House at Allington:
"Have you ever read the novels of Anthony Trollope? They precisely suit my taste; solid and substantial, written on the strength of beef and through the inspiration of ale, and just as real as if some giant had hewn a great lump out of the earth and put it under a glass case with all its inhabitants going abotu their daily business, and not suspecting that they were made a show of." (527-8)
I also just read an article about Louisa May Alcott's Little Women which stated that Jo March is a remarkable character because she is only one of three women of fame in nineteenth century literature who says "no" to a man. The other two being Jane Eyre and Elizabeth Bennet. The article also noted that both Jane and Elizabeth later change their minds, while Jo never does marry Laurie. I think Alcott is remarkable for this decision, but I also realized that Lily Dale also says "No" to Johnny Eames and does not change her mind.
According to mellow's biography of Hawthorne, Trollope did come to the US and attend a dinner where he met Hawthorne, Emerson, Channing etc, I wonder if Alcott ever met him, or if she read his novels. Does anyone know if there is any record of her reading The Small House. It would be an interesting fact if she did.
Subject: [trollope-l] SHA: Lily Going Mad Counting the Figures in the Wallpaper
I quoted Bruce:
"(Lily speaking to her mother, about getting out of her sickbed, which is in her mother's room) 'I am so tired of looking always at the same paper. It is such a tiresome paper. It makes one count the pattern over and over again. I wonder how you ever can live here.'
'I've got used to it, you see.'
'I can never get used to that sort of thing; but go on counting, and counting, and counting.'"
Bruce reminds us of how Lily feels herself going mad when she is prostrate in bed, having retreated from a world which in the person of Adolphus Crosbie has betrayed, abused and would now, she fears, either quietly ridicule or look down on her. She has no options beyond living out the bourgeois myth.