March 9, 2000
Re: Looking Forward to The Small House
I have just finished reading the introductions to the Oxford paperback classic edition of The Small House by James R. Kincaid and the Everyman edition of The Small House by David Skilton, and would like to tell Catherine Crean she is in very good company as both Kincaid and Skilton find in Trollope's depiction of Lily Dale (and a large number of Trollope heroines and heros) a strong strain of what she called masochism. I agree with her too, though my take on it is closer to that of Kincaid who does not see Trollope as punishing Lily Dale (or any of his characters) but rather as indentifying with them and pouring into them intensely passionate aspects of his own criticism of society's values and his memories of his boy- and young man-hood and later experiences of the world too.
Since we have not yet officially read the book on this list I won't go into the details of these introductions, just say how perceptive and informative they are. Skilton accompanies his edition by long quotations from Victorian reviewers of The Small House and Trollope's fiction as a whole: he quotes one of the best early readers of Trollope's fiction, Richard Hutton and A. O. J. Cockshut who perform (or write) variants on the same outlook. As a book written at least to sell to the same audience which bought Framley Parsonage, it presents us with the same pastoral world in outlines; the difference is that the pastoral is utterly fractured, and instead of a clash between worlds we have the interpenetration of them to the point where the rural world settled, rooted in older bonds, in paying at least lip service to decency and humanity, is shown up to rely on the ruthless and inhuman one of money and surface prestige that goes with power in offices.
I find both The Warden and Barchester Towers show this interpenetration, and Dr Thorne is a novel about the hypocrisy of the hierarchy of its world. The difference between The Small House and the earlier books is perhaps a quantum leap in subtlety of characterisation, especially in the characters of Adolphus Crosbie, Johnny Eames, and Lily Dale. I would not make the argument that The Small House is Trollope's first mature novel: that goes to The Macdermots of Ballycloran a great tragic book. It does however move suddenly in the direction of intense psychological analysis which escapes all patterning perhaps the first time in Trollope's full-length novels. This, together with a complete fracturing of the pastoral world of The Small House provide much of the source of what we have to look forward to in our coming long long story.
Re: The Small House at Allington: Immediate Context, Ceaseless Publication and A Cornucopia of Editions: A Complete History
As I wrote The Small House is said to have been enormously popular during the era of its early publications, much to Trollope's bemusement, gratification, and annoyance. In the early part of our century, its popularity did not fall off, and differs strongly from that of most of Trollope's other books which did. Then again when we come to the first publications of the Barsetshire series and recently in the last couple of decades, it is reprinted continually. So it is far more frequently published than the singletons (like Miss Mackenzie which is a book I like too) and among the most apparently frequently read of the Barsetshire and Palliser series. It's well to say apparently frequently read because people do buy pretty sets of books without necessarily reading them.
Trollope began to write The Small House on 20 May 1862 and finished on 11 February 1863. It's revealing that it was begun immediately after one of Trollope's finest stories, 'The Journey to Panama', one in which we find a Miss Emily Viner sailing across an ocean to a man she has never met, by whom she has been bought as a wife, and whose offer she has accepted because of intense pressure from her family. Aboard ship an intense love romance develops between her and Mr Forrest, our narrator. It's well to keep this story in mind as we approach Lily's love story which also ends abortively. Miss Viner's comments about her "friends" and relatives who have coerced her into selling herself as wife to a man she's never met offer the tone and feel of what is meant by the reality that women were forced into marriage at the time as a way of getting bread and roof over their head as well as peaceful respectability,
"Oh, Mr Forrest, if you knew what it was to have to live with such people as those.' And then, out of that, on that evening, there grew up between them something like the confidence of real friendship" (Sutherland, 1991 Oxford paperback, Early Short Stories, 387).
As to the wealth her forced marriage is going to bring her, which the male in this story, a Mr Ralph Forrest, likens to " a palace in Peru," this woman, Emily Viner says,
"An English workhouse would be better, but an English poorhouse is not opened to me. You do not know what it is to have friends--no, not friend, but people belonging to you--just so near as to make your respectability a matter of interest to them, but not so near that they should care for your happiness. Emily Viner married to Mr Gorlock [the rich old man who awaits her] is put out of the way respectably" (391).
In another dialogue Miss Viner says, "there are worse things Mr Forrest than being alone in the world. It is often a woman's lot to wish she were let alone" (384).
Trollope shows Mr Forrest genuinely falling in love with this woman; their conversations are full and detailed; it is true they part when the ship comes to shore, but not because Mr Forrest wants to part. At the end of the story, much to Emily's relief and guilt (because she has told the truth) we learn the man who bought her, Mr Gorloch, has died and Emily could become wife to Forrest. Yet Emily really wants to be free, and makes this interesting statement about their relationship and conversations during the voyage:
"While he [Mr Gorloch] lived,it seemed to me that in those last days I had a right to speak my thoughts plainly. You and I were to part and meet no more, and I regarded us both as people apart, who for a while might drop the common usages of the world" (396).
So Trollope can sympathize deeply with and for a few pages make an unconventional woman his heroine. Probably he felt he could afford it. In the longer books he was willing to risk less--or maybe in such a book he feared where his imagination might take him were he to allow himself to enter fully into the woman's case. Mrs Smith lives with John Caldigate off-stage (John Caldigate). Lily's retreat after engagement is given much emotionality and sexual justification. Not enough attention is paid to Trollope's short stories.
Upon finishing 'A Journey to Panama' Trollope wrote The Small House. He made a superb deal for £3000 and it was seralised in the Cornhill between September 1862 and April 1864 with a full compliment of vignettes and full-page illustrations by John Everett Millais. These provide another interpretation of the novel: I have written about these on my homepage; if anyone is interested to read the descriptions of all of them and comments from critics as well as my own, go to http://mason.gmu.edu/~emoody. The Trollope Society edition does not print any like the whole set of 37; I have only been able to see 26.
The Small House was reprinted as a book by L. Smith Elder in 1864, and then came out in a series of cheap 1 volume editions, 1864, 1869, 1872, 1876, 1885, 1894, and 1902 and 1903. The happy publishers also included: Harper in New York & Tauchnitz in Leipzig. Its first appearance as part of the series called Barsetshire occurred in 1879, as a Chapman and Hall luxurious product (I have seen these volumes, very gussied up), illustrations by F. A. Fraser. Some of Fraser's illustrations in this set are brilliant -- I describe a couple on my homepage.
Then there is a plethora of editions and more happy publishers: 1883 Seaside Library, Munro in New York; 1892 Dodd and Mead in New York; 1900 a Collector's Edition (very fancy we must suppose) by Gebbie of Philadelphia; in 1906 Lane's New YPicket Library. Macmillan gets into the game in 1906 with an edition reissued 1913, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1928, and in 1914 in a separate cheaper form, a Bohn's Popular Library book. Dent or Everyman picked it up in 1909, an inexpensive book reprinted in 1910, 1915, 1923, 1928, 1934, 1963, 1965. Some of these carried some of Millais's illustrations. Yet more separate editions and reprintings before World War Two include: 1914 New Century Library, a Nelson Classic (the word 'classic' often helps sell a book to the self-improving reader); 1925 one L. Hayes made a book with Millais's illustrations to boot; 1926, Lauriat in Boston, 1927, a Waverly again illustrated by the Millais drawings; 1928 Lane once again. We find Michael Sadleir getting into the act with the famous Shakespeare Head Press Oxford editions at Blackwell. It will seem funny that he engineered this edition of Trollope's two famous series on the supposition that Trollope needed someone to put his books into print until we remember that what he said he wanted was to get the establishment, the more middle class and educated reader to take to Trollope again. In 1939 the first of the little blue Oxford Classic paperbacks followed the Shakespeare Head edition.
After the second World War, The Small House finally seems momentarily to cease multiplying quite as rapidly A mere 3 editions are variously reprinted. In 1948, Chatto and Windus, a Zodaic Press (pretty books) edition which is reprinted in 1950, 1972; Grove Press uses this one in 1952 and Harcourt in 1962. Dent gets back into the act in 1950.
Nearly a quarter of a century passes.
Then it begins again: 1979 the fancy Folio, introduced by Julian Symons with new illustrations by Peter Reddick; 1980 an attempt at a scholarly book through a good introduction by James K. Kincaid in the Oxford paperback series. This one is the text we buy in the pretty black sets; it is the one still available today in pretty Oxford paperbacks with the cover illustration a detail from The House by the Pond by Edward Waite. Penguin made a splendid scholarly book with Julian Thompson as editor (he edited the short stories in the good one volume of them). There is the Trollope Society edition in 1997, which is introduced by Margaret Markwick (with 18 full-page illustrations, and a few scattered vignettes). The newest edition of The Small House is by David Skilton and published by Everyman; this one includes a long section in the back in which Skilton discusses the contemporary response to the book as filtered through the reviewers. Its cover is a reproduction of Lady in a Landscape by Thomas Francis Dicksee (1862); Dicksee was a member of the Royal Academy of Art.
Then there are the translations of which I can list three. As with a number of Trollope's novels, the 19th century Russian publishers felt there was an audience in Russia: in 1864, the year of publication The Small House became Allingtonskey Maliy Dom and it was printed in St Petersburg in 2 volumes. In 1866 we find La Petite Maison d'Allington published in Paris in 2 volumes. Then in 1952 it appears in a translation into Norwegian, Sostene i Allington, in Oslo. We can learn something about the way in which a book is read in a given era by studying the translations and seeing which culture chooses to translate it and if the book sells there.
People often say the problem for someone wanting to understand Trollope is that he is seen as the man of the Barsetshire books. The reading of these books in a row persuades me that they were not until Framley Parsonage developed by Trollope as an intertwining series which would go on and on for yet more very long books. Barchester Towers was written as a conventional rewrite to please the 3-volume crowd only after The Warden had a success d'estime (not 'd'argent). Dr Thorne is a novel about social classes set in Barsetshire which takes the material in a very different direction. However, the common reader has blurred the books, and we get attempts like Hennedy's to find some frame into which they all fit. Hennedy's book in which he attempts to prove the books are all united by Christian allegory throws into high relief the reality that they are not because he so often has to ignore much of what is in a book or de-emphasise or distort the tone and feel of the book.
Further, people say that the one book Trollope is truly known by is Barchester Towers whose reprinting history I didn't even attempt. It is the most frequently reprinted of his books. I am not sure that statement doesn't distort the conception people have of Trollope. For Barchester Towers is linked to The Small House by the covers and publication of the two books. The conception they have of Trollope as a writer of women's love stories may come from The Small House in the context of this series, especially its predecessor Framley Parsonage. The reader who went through her pretty books would go through these as a pair. The mood of FP would in her mind tranfer to the mood of The Small House. No wonder Trollope burst out against poor Lily Dale as a prig and prude who forsooth wouldn't marry again because she had known engaged intimacy with Adolphus and loved him. (I agree with Joanna Trollope's reading of the real sex in this book).
Next week before I go to Bath I will write separate posting on what Trollope really wrote about this book. Often what Trollope has to say about his books is at odds with what his public (meaning the mythical majority of readers) is said to think of them. This was so in the case of Dr Thorne; it is so in the case of The Small House. I will also include what the reviewers at the time said and a bit of what has been said by the best of the scholars and academics of late.
Re: The Small House: Which is Best Today?
The real question is which is best for the money. I recommend three as more or less equivalent: the Penguin 1991 text edited and introduced by Julian Thompson; the 1980 Oxford Classics paperback (also exists in the pretty black sets) edited and introduced by James Kincaid; and the 1999 Everyman edited and introduced by David Skilton. None of these is perfect in all respects (meaning new text based on original editions or thorough historically-based notes). However, all are fine, relatively inexpensive, decently bound books with attractive appropriate cover illustrations. In particular all three have excellent essays by the editors as introductions (which of course people can read as 'afterwards' if they prefer).
I went away to Bath.
On March 24, 2000
The weather is kind in Virginia today: we are balmy, the sky a shiny white blue, the flowering trees heavy with petals, the grass that light green densely felt under the sparkling dew that betokens much money to mowers.
And so we begin again. Barsetshire 5.
Re: The Small House at Allington: Barsetshire 5?
I find persuasive the comment someone made (I apologize for not noting the person's name) 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:
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, 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.
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,