Johnny Eames and Lady Julia on the Bridge; Reinventing Maleness: Johnny Eames and Will Belton as Recurring Types; Johnny Eames Variants Grown Old and Seen as More Sensitive: Mr Harding and Mr Whittlestaff; The Small House at Allington: Its Place in the Barsetshire Series

Tyler began it:

Date: Tue, 23 May 2000 11:16:52 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House at Allington

This week's chapters were splendid, and especially the scene on the bridge between Johnny Eames and Lady Julia.

I am continually becoming a greater fan of Trollope. When I first joined this list, I knew nothing about him except that he was said to be a careless writer who wrote rapidly, and therefore, his writing must be poor, but it is far from that. It is so thoughtful and firmly organized in the plots and the character motivations.

Dickens is my favorite novelist, but Trollope is close behind as a writer deserving of praise. Ellen remarked that Dickens's characters are stick figures, but this isn't always true - just mostly his more comical characters, and I think Trollope can be accused of this as well - Mrs. Proudie, for example, seems to be of little depth, but she is comical as a result. And Trollope's depiction of Lily can be as sentimentally nauseating as Dickens's Little Nell on her death bed. However, both writers have grreat merit as well, and Trollope's is his complex psychological explorations of his characters.

The scene between Johnny Eames and Lady Julia strikes me as especially remarkable. Repeatedly in the novel, Lily remarks that Crosbie could not feel love like her because men feel these things differently, but in this scene on the bridge, Trollope negates that statement. It seems to me a very remarkable and moving scene because Trollope allows Johnny to break down and cry, something a man is not supposed to do, but does occasionally happen. It would have been enough to depict Johnny crying on the bridge, but that he does it in Lady Julia's presence makes the scene perfect. All the while, characters have had rather cold things to say about Lady Julia, but in this scene she becomes such a rounded character simply by a few sentences. When she tells Johnny that to have loved, even if in vain, will be a great comfort to him someday, you cannot help but wonder if Lady Julia knows this from experience. One hopes that she is right for Johnny's sake, and for the reader's sake as well.

At that point I couldn't resist but to finish the book, and the conclusion strikes me as perfection. I can barely resist not writing about it as well, but I promise to wait until next week.

Tyler Tichelaar

Re: The Small House: Chs 49-54: Reinventing Maleness: Johnny Eames

Tyler points out a remarkable aspect of Trollope's characterisation of men. Many people will say of Trollope that he is stereotypically male himself and presents a vision of maleness that is simply patriarchical. Like so many statements about Trollope, this is only partly true or an exaggeration. Trollope presented a certain face to the world, one he knew would be acceptable; it was not his only face, and it was a roar to keep people at a distance. His novels support a patriarchical class- and rank- based exclusive society; at the same time he is always looking at the individuals who suffer under such arrangements and the cost to them as well as those on top.

One of my favorite types in Trollope is the male who is very tender, who can cry or openly mourn loss. Johnny Eames is joined by Will Belton. Sometimes I think Trollope is redefining maleness and the old heroic ideals in a peculiarly modern way. I agree we are to see suddenly into Lady Julia's past and what she may have lost and feel about it: suddenly her character acquires suggestive depths. We can think to ourselves about why she seemed jealous of Lily in the first place; why she was alert to coming betrayals.

It's revealing that the final climax of this book is Lily's refusal of Johnny Eames. Suddenly the two triangles dissolve away and we are left with this pair. Their scene is a masterpiece of intimate probing of their minds as they react to one another. All does not seem to have been moving towards this scene of renunciation on Lily's part. Trollope moves by serpentine indirections, and yet the fiction is carefully shaped and we never lost our way in an excursis.

I didn't mean all Dickens's characters are sticks. I think I called them 'puppets and it's a word Dickens himself uses. Dickens's characters are often larger than life; they are symbolic entities; they are parts of an inner landscape rather than forming the landscape themselves. Perhaps the later books do have more complicated people (Our Mutual Friend does); they also have characters who we feel could be filled out were Dickens to be interested in this (Lady Dedlock in Bleak House). But his interest is not subtle psychological analysis.

Trollope grows on you. The reason he is not respected is people don't read enough of his books. They read only one or two and then what others have written about him who have themselves maybe not even read one. He also doesn't fit the popular fads of today, the paradigms, and he has been long misread as complacently conservative. That is odd, considering what he himself says explicitly about his politics in an Autobiography and the positions he took in public life which were not just cant and convenient party adherences.

Ellen Moody

Re: Johnny Eames Types Grown Old and Seen as More Sensitive: Mr Harding and Mr Whittlestaff:

I forgot to mention that the Johnny Eames type finds its variant in Mr Harding and Mr Whittlestaff who are sensitive tender men, in Plantagenet Palliser whose virtue is to be unworldly, not personally ambitious, to be capable of great self-abnegation and sacrifice, in John Grey who is deeply hurt when Alice rejects him. None of these are violent men or at any rate enjoy violence, nor are they your Sir Charles Grandison types (unsexy, and relentlessly upbeat and cheerful). Sometimes they do become neurotic and self-destruct: Harry Gilmour in The Vicar of Bullhampton.

The person who self-destructs out of worldly ambition misplaced is Adolphus Crosbie or George Bertram (who nearly self-destructs). What makes them intriguing and creates the deeper interest is their outsider status. Then there are the males who desperately trying to maintain their place: Captain Marrable. Like Phineas Finn, they are fringe people and easily can be turned into pariahs.

Ellen Moody

Hello everyone!

I'm new to this list, and I hope I'm not in over my head, since I haven't read as much Trollope as you folks clearly have. At the moment I am plowing through the Barsetshire books, and have finished the first four. I haven't embarked on the Palliser series yet.

I does seem from my limited experience, however, that the Barsetshire books are connected mostly through locale and occasional overlapping characters. There doesn't seem to be a thread or theme intertwining throughout that you might expect in a true series. Except, of course, for Trollope's own themes of church and bloodlines, etc.

I'm glad to find this list, because I'm enjoying these books very much. I first discovered him in college many years ago. One of my professors was a big Trollope fan.


From: "Rory O'Farrell"
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's Series?

From: "Rory O'Farrell"

He quoted my answer in agreement with Emily:

At 14:03 00\02\26 +0000, Ellen Moody wrote:

"I would argue that the Barsetshire books evolved into a series, and they are far more disparate in type if not theme, stories, characters and places than the Palliser books which I am willing to believe Trollope saw as a series much earlier on.

Again, at risk of getting ahead of the reading list, I'd comment as follows: we are probably incorrect to see the Barsetshire and the Palliser books as a series in the modern sense (where a series is word-processed and read for absolute consistency), where the same core group of characters carry the story. In both of the above cases, I think Trollope used the landscape and the core group of characters (whether on or off stage) to give a certain continuity and sense of familiarity to the new story. In the case of the Barsetshire series, The Small House... is probably an intrusion, which we are happy to admit. In the case of the Palliser series, The Eustace Diamonds is also an intrusion, as it does not fall into the main stream of the rest of the series. One can omit _The Eustace Diamonds in a read of the series without serious omission to the plot. Of course, to loose Lizzy Eustace entirely would be a very great loss! Perhaps also our sense of series is influenced, for those who have seen them, by the various TV renderings of the stories; in TV, it is necessary to reduce the number of characters and to tighten up the story, sometimes transferring a notable happening from a minor character to a major character, and eliminating the minor character entirely. I know that my reading of the Palliser books always sees Lady Glencora as Susan Hampshire, who played the role in the BBC TV series (much as I cannot read the Rumpole stories without seeing Leo McKern as Rumpole!).

If Trollope saw these as a series (my emphasis) at the time of writing, I suggest he would have taken more care with minor details such as first names and places. I think he was more concerned with keeping his readers feeling that they were about to find a new story in his familiar landscapes. Examination of the scholarly notes on several of his stories shows just how much work has been done behind the scenes by the editors of those volumes to rectify apparent errors by Trollope, and equally, errors in reading his manuscripts by the compositors, which slipped through proof reading. --

Rory O'Farrell Email:

To Trollope-l

Re: The Small House at Allington: Its Place in the Barsetshire Series

I find persuasive Rory's comments that that only after The Small House at Allington proved so popular did Trollope think to work it directly and closely into the Barsetshire series He writes:

"As I see it, Trollope did not originally intend The Small House... to be a Barsetshire book, but used an overlapping locale and some familiar but mostly offstage characters so that the reader was not placed in an utterly strange landscape. Afterwards, with the public demand for more about Lily Dale, he was able to tie her and Johnny Eames into The Last Chronicle .._, effectively retrospectively making The Small House... part of the Barsetshire series."

The Small House could have been left as a book somewhat to the side of the series -- as one could regard The Claverings and Is He Popenjoy? as books overlapping in locale. In his introduction to the Oxford paperback classic edition of The Small House ... , James Kincaid says that Trollope found 'the enormous popular success' of the book 'gratifying, bemusing, and somewhat annoying'. We all know that after he wrote The Last Chronicle_ he objected to the canonization (so to speak) of Lily Dale for having refused to marry at all.

_The Last Chronicle_ is intertwined with the Barsetshire books not only through the countryside, ecclesiastical themes, and the return of the ecclesiastical characters (Mr Harding, the Arabins, Grantlys, Proudies and Crawleys), but a rerun of Lily's story. When I read the triangular story of Lily Dale, Madalina Desmoulins, and Johnny Eames in The Last Chronicle, I see it as a repeat of the Lily Dale, Amelia Roper, Johnny Eames triangle in The Small House, and since the role of Adolphus Crosbie is played out, Trollope moves to the much darker material of the Dobbs-Broughton and the artist's story as filler. It's superb filler, but filler all the same. And its atmosphere and mood is somewhat at odds with the Barsetshire materials of the book.

I would argue that the Barsetshire books evolved into a series, and they are far more disparate in type if not theme, stories, characters and places than the Palliser books which I am willing to believe Trollope saw as a series much earlier on.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 11 January 2003