Comparisons and Contrasts between Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility and Anthony Trollope's Small House at Allington: Underlying these is a subgenre of novel to which La Princesse de Cleves to today's Possession belongs; Meredith recognized the parallel: The Egoist; Many Similiarities between Various Novels of Trollope and Austene: The Bertrams and Mansfield Park, Northanger Abbey and Ayala's Angel; The Connections of All These to Wilke Collins's Novels

The first series of posts was written by the group when we read The Small House the second time beginning in March 2000:

From: Sigmund Eisner
Subject: [trollope-l] The Small House at Allington, first comments

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) ...

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.

[The rest of this posting went on to talk about the first six chapters of the book]


On that day Catherine Crean wrote happy we were reading The Small House and Angela opened the following by referring to Catherine's happiness:

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.


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

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

To Trollope-l

April 10, 2000

Re: The Small House: The Bethrothed Couple

Michael Powe has mentioned Gay's book on sex in Victorian times as one in which the relatively permissive and flexible attitude towards sexual activity between an engaged or bethrothed couple is discussed. More explicit and detailed are Michael Masson's Victorian Sexuality and Laurence Stone's Broken Vows and Uncertain Unions. The reason the engagement period was often hidden, the experience was seen as putting a girl in a delicate position, that jilting a girl was justification for litigation was it was assumed sexual activity went on. For the Victorian it was not that important that the young couple did not go all the way; what was significant was the real intimacy which was fostered by allowing the couple a lot of time together with no one else around. I suggest one can read Lily's words flexibly but that they inscribe an experience which in her mind makes her Crosbie's morally, emotionally -- and yes, by implication, sexually. It doesn't need to be made explicit in the text; it is simply understood that when a couple is left alone for hours in a house or to go for drives alone or to visit other houses alone (as Willoughby and Marianne are) or go walking out together (a charged phrase in the 19th century), hugging, embracing, kissing, what we call heavy petting would occur. Practically speaking Trollope does not set up a situation in which nakedness or going all the way is possible, but he leaves it to our imagination to picture what we want up to that in passages like the following:

'Because -- ', said he; and then he stooped over her and pressed her closely while she put up her lips to his, standing on tiptoe that she might reach his face.

'Oh, my love! she said, 'My love! my love!'

As Crosbie walked back to the Great House that night, he made a firm resolution that no consideration of worldly welfare should ever induce him to break his engagement with Lily Dale ... (Ch 9, p. 85).

Trollope has gone as far as a Victorian middle class novelist can go in indicating time passed between the intense embrace, her yielding to him, and his walking away vowing himself to do her justice, be honorable.

It is we in the 20th century who are so obsessed by sex we want to know how far the couple went in the time that occurred between the words "my love!' uttered by Lily and the time Crosbie walks back to the house resolving firmly he will marry her, that no consideration of worldly welfare will stop him. I suggest the emphasis on what exactly transpired loses what Trollope is getting at, which is a moral shaping of life. As I wrote earlier, what bothers me here is the moral can be the narrow-minded warning, 'Better not let the man have anything, especially better not let him see how much you love him, or he'll take you for granted'. What an ugly frame of mind. If others are so sordid and mean, does Trollope want to tell us we must be so.

I don't deny that this could be what Trollope intends -- as it seems clear to me that there is enormous class and sexist bias in his portraits of Amelia and Mrs Lupex and one 'moral' of the Boarding House incident is to teach genteel middle class women not to leave their precious sons with low-class women landladies. The moral stupidity inherent in seeing one class of people as better than another involved in this inference explains why Trollope has so often been dismissed as unintelligent, non-thinking, giving readers a bland representation of the savagery of the world whose blandness disguises the cruelty and injustice of people to one another.

Where I see something better -- paradoxically is in Trollope's condemnation of the upper class characters, his implicit castigation of Crosbie for his mercenary hollowness, and his creation of real sympathy for Lily, Bell, the mother, Johnny and Earl de Guest on the basis of their adherence to humane values, to loyalty, constancy, kindness, respect for others, whether poorer or unconnected or not. The moral touchstone of the book remains Mr Harding, not Mrs Grundy or the kind of narrow religion we find in the fundamentalists and evangelists of Rachel Ray, Miss Mackenzie and other novels.

At any rate, Lily has gone far enough to be so deeply committed to this man, that his betrayal of her will wound her permanently. She also is not attracted sexually to John Eames, and will not take advantage of his love to conform to a world whose values Crosbie was following. Now this is the moral of S&Stoo: Marianne has probably gone less far than Lily (she and Willoughby are not quite engaged), but she too is betrayed, anguished, shattered, loses self-respect and trust. The paradigm is the same. I would not say that Austen necessarily is the more conventional novelist because she forces marriage on the heroine at the end since the ending of S&S is not radiantly happy, but qualified, understated.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Groups-From: "Catherine Crean"
From: "Catherine Crean"
Subject: [trollope-l] Sig's post

Sig, I've been waiting you post on these chapters! This is my third reading of A Small House at Allington and I've bee carefully noting every reference to sexual activity (sounds so clinical!) between Lily and Crosbie. I'm not convinced that there was any. Are you saying that Lily and Crosbie "consummated" their relationship? Where does the text support this? Lily is portrayed (in contrast to Lady Augusta) as a warm, emotional woman who shows her ardor with her words and with gestures. I'm also rereading Sense and Sensibility. Although Marianne is left alone with Willoughby, I don't see a sexual relationship there either.

Catherine Crean

From: "Catherine Crean"
Subject: [trollope-l] "My love!"

I agree with June and the others who say that the love scenes in The Small House at Allington and other Victorian novels are moving in their intensity. Why must we always assume that sex is necessary? And as Ellen points out, modern readers are limited in their vocabulary when discussing sexual relations. Lily Dale and Marianne Dashwood are well-rounded, full blooded characters. I think we are looking the in the wrong direction when we try to find things in the text that aren't there. Whether the authors wanted us to think that the characters "had sex" or not is beside the point. The issue of a woman giving her heart, or being sexually "awakened" is a subtle and more interesting thing to discuss anyway. I adore the scene in the field where Lily says "My love! My love!" Trollope paints Lily's physical manifestations of love with deft strokes, especially when he writes about Crosbie's recollections after he marries an iceberg of a wife. Lily seems more alive, more vivid in Crosbie's recollections of her than anywhere else. This is an example of superb artistry on Trollope's part.

Catherine Crean p>Re: The Small House: Mrs Dale and Austen's Mrs Dashwood

If Trollope used Austen's S&S in the way he slightly later used old plays, the explanation for the anomalous behavior of Mrs Dale could be that central the plot of the story as taken from S&S, we have a mother who is does 'not drive her daughters or scheme with her daughters in some kind of marriage market'. Mrs Dashwood is an idealist'; Austen makes the point that most mothers would warn Marianne away from Willoughby because he had no money of his own, or could lose it as a dependent; or would try to inveigle Elinor's love to marry her because he might inherit. Also like Mrs Dale, Mrs Dashwood refuses to interfere with her daughter's love affairs; both will not question the Lily-Marianne character; both refuse to push the Bell-Elinor character. Had the mother in either character been more forceful or less romantic, the daughter's fates would not have worked out the way it does. The romantic self- immolating female (Lily-Marianne) could not have sacrificed herself; the sensible restrained one (Bell-Elinor) would not have been left alone to involve herself with a man who himself has not much money and humble prospects (Dr Crofts-Austen's Edward Ferrars who ends up a clergyman).

A smaller but telling parallel is the use of February. Both Willoughby and Crosbie marry in the middle of February; both Marianne and Lily wait silently, scouring the papers to learn of it.

An important difference here is that Aust en is far sharper and more critical towards the mother figure; she satirises her. The mother is also not given much of a life of her own, though there are hints she could have had one. Brandon is not beyond her. Trollope sympathises with Mrs Dale and makes us enter into her point of view. Mrs Dale's quiet sacrifice of a life of her own provides a poignant undercurrent for this novel. She is at another end of a spectrum to Mrs Lupex and Amelia Roper, but none of these three have a niche in their society from which they can be independent and create their own identifies and demand respect. Lily is thrown away for money; Alexandrina can be said to be sacrificed to rank. All she has ever done is an immolation to that. Which woman in the novel has some fulfillment that is worth having? Julia de Guest is her own woman, but disrespected as an old maid. Only in terms of Trollope's scheme the heroine who approaches conventional ideals of virtue (and coyness), unworldiness most closely: Isabelle Dale.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

May 12, 1998

Re: The Small House: Crosbie and Austen's Willoughby

This to Kathleen,

I know my belief that Trollope had memories of _Sense and Sensibility_ in mind when he began his original situation and developed it in he Small House has not met with approval from all--though some have agreed enthusiastically. Still, since I am nothing if not stubborn, I have not let go of my idea.

I will rephrase it this way, let us suppose for the sake of argument and shedding light on The Small House and Trollope's intentions and point of view he was remembering some of the central elements of Sense and Sensibility. Suppose then that Adolphus Crosbie is Sir John Willoughby re-seen, but re-seen in much more depth and with a psychological perspective that forces us to take circumstances into account and see how such man would see himself, rationalize his selfishness and, when apart from Lily, shallowness and urge for rank, wealth, and luxuries away. All of us see ourselves in a pleasant light. So Trollope enters into Crosbie's mind--as Austen does not, as her technique is much more that of a satirist and she models more shallowly and especially in _S&S+_ in the direction of antithetical and reinforcing patterns (Marianne and Elinor are antithetical and they are also a doppelganger figure; Lily and Belle are much realer but their depiction has something of the same themes running through).

But although Trollope invites us to go inside Crosbie, he does not mean us to forget what Crosbie is looked at objectively and what he is doing to Lily--and also himself. As Austen too makes us see what Willoughby does to himself. Their punishment is to be them? to get their wishes? watch out what you wish for and all that.

I'm just trying to suggest a perspective which will include in it both a introspective and humane portrayal of a man like Crosbie with an objective condemnation of him morally speaking.

Ellen Moody

A series of threads written in 1998:

I started it:

Re: Austen & Trollope

There is a genuine parallel between the characters and situation in Austen's S&SThe Small House at Allington. Lily Dale recalls Marianne in several ways; Belle plays the role of Elinor; Mrs Dale is in the position of Mrs Dashwood and she too behaves as Mrs Dashwood does towards Marianne and Willoughby. Reading The Small House sheds light on some unexpressed assumptions in S&S and vice versa

I have noticed again and again that certain critics write about both Trollope and Austen (Juliet McMasters is just one familiar instance). Off-list Carolyn and I have discussed Lizzie Eustace in The Eustace Diamonds as a more successful or fully-rounded depiction of the Lady Susan type. Another two novels which may be read in tandem are Trollope's Ayala's Angel and Austen's Northanger Abbey. Trollope's witty hero, Jonathan Stubbs, owes a lot to Austen's Henry Tilney.

In an analysis of realism in the novel by William Dean Howells in which he defends novels about ordinary life which limit the perspective to that of the the common middle class reader he links Austen and Trollope together. The link is real.

Ellen Moody

Elvira Casal replied:

I agree completely with Ellen Moody about the parallels between Small House and Sense and Sensibility. In fact I seem to remember having discussed this with Ellen off-list at some point.

I would like to mention a third book for this "connection." In The Egoist, George Meredith takes some of the situations and some of the names from the two novels, stirs them up and spices them up and comes up with something wonderful. In this case it is not so much "parallels" as "transformations." I've always wondered if Meredith consciously recognized the similarities between SH and S&S

Elvira Casal

Kishor Kale:

Please could you go into more detail about how 'The Small House at Allington sheds light on some unexpressed assumptions in S&S and vice versa', Ellen?

Kishor Kale

Re: The Small House at Allington & Sense & Sensibility

Elvira reminds me that she and I talked about the connections between The Small House and Jane Austen's S&S, and Kishor says could I go into more detail about how Trollope's book "sheds light on some unexpressed assumptions in S&S." I think Elvira is right and she and I discussed the two books as connected; maybe it happened during the time of the group readings on Austen of S&S. I can't remember what we said, and wouldn't mind when Elvira has the time if she would bring Meredith's Egoist into this. I don't remember The Egoist sufficiently even to guess at the "transformation," but I'd like to hear. What I always remember best about the The Egoist is its Restoration Comedy feel and some splendor under a cherry blossom tree (I think it was).

As to the comparison of S&S and The Small House it seems to me multifold, but the one I was especially referring to when I talked about shedding light on unexpressed assumptions was the behavior of Mrs Dashwood and that of Mrs Dale. When thought about side-by-side it seems to me Austen's is the far more satiric book; the figures in Austen's book are sharply delineated so as to expose the flaws in Marianne's point of view on (how shall I say it) how to cope with passion in society as we find it and must live in it. Mrs Dashwood becomes a character who is linked to Marianne because Austen presents her repeatedly as an older Marianne. Mrs Dashwood's behavior is then seen against a kind of universal scrim of values which includes but de-emphasizes some psychological and social pressures on her. (Anyway this is how I would see it). Thus when Mrs Dashwood not only countenances Marianne's romance but the times the two spend together alone and when in company their openness about their romance in front of others we are to criticize her for not looking first to ascertain the young man's character but his past, by what he has done. She is wrong not to be more suspicious, more careful. When she will not ask Marianne whether she and Willoughby are engaged, and even hopes (this comes out in a conversation with Elinor) that they are secretly corrresponding as a sign of their engagement which she argues (from no evidence whatsoever) that the reason she and Elinor do not see the letters is that would give the engagement away to Sir John Middleton who is collecting all the Dashwood letters at the postoffice, we are to say she is risking her daughter's mental peace--and reputation, for engagements implied a level of sexual intimacy. At the close of the novel Austen is concerned to show us Mrs Dashwood has not learnt that much when impulsively she is thrilled by Brandon's proposal instead of examining his character and the differences between him and Marianne. In each case we look upon a scene from the point of view of some universal needs and dangers.

Trollope's novel is more psychologized, set more deeply into a social context. His opening portrait of Mrs Dale in Chapter 3 (I think it is) is deeply sympathetic and in it he has no satiric thrust at all. His satire is not aimed at this character in the way Austen's is; it is rather aimed at various values and institutions by which she is surrounded and at characters who embody values he is concerned to expose as inhumane or false. Thus he satirizes--but somewhat gently--the Squire who has made Mrs Dale's life uncomfortable and in some basic ways impoverished (Mrs Dale can know no romance--Mrs Dashwood seems never to want any.)

But Mrs Dale is very like Mrs Dashwood in most ways, and especially important is the two are neither of them mercenary. This is important. Like Mrs Dashwood Mrs Dale is idealistic in her whole approach towards life. She will not force Bell to marry Bernard even though it would be in her best interests. Mrs Dale's outward behavior also resembles that of Mrs Dashwood: she allows the open behavior; she allows the long periods alone; she does not question the engagement though she knows she has no money to offer with Lily. She too has risked Lily's mental peace--and in Trollope's books the hints about this are much stronger--and she has allowed a level of sexual intimacy to occur between the young couple when left alone for reasonably long and vulnerable periods of time. Now with Mrs Dale we see a different kind of perspective set on the situation. She too is a widow alone with very little who wants her daughter to be happy, and she has not much power over another individual's inner life This is Trollope's emphasis.

What I'm trying to say is this: that a reader who reads Austen's novel can be puzzled about why on earth Mrs Dashwood countenances the romance. We are only given enough to understand for the satiric thrust. But there's a hum and buzz of assumptions about social position, psychology, and customs (behaviors) Austen is not not concerned to fill out. Trollope is. Now I could equally have compared Belle as older sister advising Lily to Elinor as older sister advising Marianne. There are a couple of comparable scenes in which Belle plays the sensible one. In particular there's a dialogue between Belle and Mrs Dale in which Belle seems to try to warn Mrs Dale not to allow the romance to go this far, and Mrs Dale is dismissive. In Austen we have a satiric nexus, in Trollope a psychologized one. Willoughby is driven by his shallowness and frivolity to marry wealth; so too Crosbie will be. Both betray their "better" natures for an ambition which when the men get what they want turns to bitter ashes in their teeth. Belle's beau Dr Crosby is shy, inarticulate, and has no wealth. There is a parallel with at least the character of Edward Ferrars. And so it goes.

Of course there are differences. There is no pregnant abandoned girl in a spunging-house in Trollope. There is no Brandon--instead we have Johnny Eames, so very different. We have gone from a Knightley to a portrait of our author when young. But when we can put the books side-by-side, there is much to be gathered about what is unexpressed in both. I would say that Austen is rather the more daring or more determined and darker in the emphasis she gives to sexual passion as a driving force in the triangular parallel stories of Marianne-Willoughby-Eliza. She then sheds light on Trollope's assumptions too.

Ellen Moody

Rr: Trollope's Small House at Allington & Austen's S&S

Now that I am about 2/3's the way through Trollope's Small House, the close parallels in plot turn, kind of attitudes explored, types of characters and situations between Austen's S&S and this book have continued to mount up to such a number that I am beginning to wonder if it's isn't a commonplace in criticism of The Small House that Trollope had Austen's book firmly in mind as he wrote his, and if not, why not?

In some cases Trollope shapes a situation in The Small House which is parallel to one in S&S so as to partly to repeat in a modified form what happened in S&S. When Lily is first told of Crosbie's betrayal, she refuses to bend, refuses to be sick, holds it all in; she will not give way. The language used suggests she is right not to indulge in misery, right not to prefer pain or exalt it, but that nonetheless she will have to give in or be shattered. And a week later she lays down for a week, and gets up better for it, if somewhat changed and subdued forever. Again when a crisis comes to the Small House and they are about to leave, Lily falls very sick, and the language of this sickness harks back to Marianne's in S&S. She is delirious, refers to Crosbie; we are told all trouble is heaped upon the three woman now.

Again and again Mrs Dale seems a more sympathetically portrayed, more rounded psychologized portrait of type like that of Mrs Dashwood. Sometimes her responses to Lily in her distress reminded me of Mrs Dashwood's; the conversation the two hold over Crosbie's letter put Mrs Dale in Elinor's place when she and Marianne converse.

When the three women decide to leave the small house because they are pressured or feel pressured by the Squire, and have the problem of their small income, the fall in status, the sense of nowhere to turn to easily, the book recalls S&S in the early stages. The picturing of Mrs Dale and her daughter's come-down into a small series of rooms or tiny part of a house or lodgings in the provincial town of Guestwick and the consequent sneering, lack of visitors or visitors coming in a very different sort of mood recalled to my mind Miss Bates's rooms above the stairs versus Miss Woodhouse at Hartfield. This is not S&S, but it's a similar point of view operating on the action.

I guess this posting is also written partly in response Roger Batt's feeling about Austen's style or mood that Austen is more severe, and her portraits have sharper edges because she is satirizing. There is a kind of rigidity in her focus because she wants to exclude certain kinds of information. Her art arises from satire and not a tradition of a realistic novel. On the other hand she brings a trauma out very sharply when she wants to (as in S&S); she again and again can trace a nervous intensity in her heroines (Elinor, Anne, Fanny) which excludes all else or sees everything from this point of view exclusive of all else while this consciousness is to the fore. Everything is more subdued, more realistic in Trollope. The perspective is wider, details of social codes, customs, so many are brought in for us to consider but not necessarily agree to, just to consider. Behavior is rationalized, understood, sympathized with, and the sardonic perspective not really that of satire but a kind of moral realism which shades back and forth, In S&S Austen takes us into the trauma of Marianne; Trollope keeps us looking at it from the outside, or keeps us aware when we look at the world through Lily's eyes why she should think and feel this way is reasonable and why it in fact could be. But trauma does happen, and it is often unreasonable, and more than half-crazy so S&S has truths The Small House doesn't. And it has a satiric perspective on our emotional lives which is central; Trollope is more diffuse, he has more to cover than just this, so this diminishes in importance.

I am really intrigued by the closeness of these two books.

Ellen Moody

Re: Trollope's Small House at Allington & Austen's S&S

I always think the "proof" that convinces people that one book has directly influenced or led to some aspect or part of the writing of another may only be found in small textual details. Novels are often so alike; the larger patterns of so many of them may be likened to Cinderella or Snow White and Rose Red or Beauty and the Beast that it is hard to convince the confirmed sceptic that a given novel really gave rise to another. Thus we want to find not only larger exact parallels in situations (as in the above 2 the three women left alone with a tiny income, the cottage, the living on the relatives' estate, the sensible older sister and the extremely sensitive and passionate younger); we want the author to use a name from the previous novel, or to repeat an exact phrase (this is even better when it is quoted directly with quotation marks around it). The best is when the author him or herself tells us he or she had this previous novel in mind.

This last does sometimes happen. In Barchester Towers Trollope mentions Henry Fielding and has a mock-heroic contest which is strikingly like one in Tom Jones; Austen names Radcliffe's Italian and Romance of the Forest. I suggest though that this is uncommon for both of them; they are not "literary" novelists in the sense that they do not create skeins of allusion which embed their book in previous books. Their primary subject is life; they create to imitate life through books, but they do not look at life through books. Most of the time both resist any claim their novels are book-like or point out how far from romance they are. Thus in The Small House Lily says she wishes she was reading about some heroine of the old school, some book where

"the heroine is really a heroine, walking all the way up from Edinburgh to London, and falling among thieves; or else nursing a wounded hero, and escribing the battle from the window" (ch 42).

Trollope thinks of Scott, of Jeanne Deans in The Heart of Mid-Lothian and of a scene I'll never forget in Ivanhoe Rebecca telling the sick Ivanhoe of how the battle proceeds by peering out a narrow hole in the war of a tower. Those novelists who do embed their books in allusions, see their world through books are often romancers. Such a novelist is Umberto Eco, or in the 18th century Richardson. I have always thought the mark of the romance mood, that someone is writing a romance rather than a realistic story is a heavy use of literary allusion.

At any rate all this (besides meditating this wonderful book of The Small House Trollope himself, and different kinds of novels and their relationship to fairy tales), all this, I say, is to excuse my today quoting a (to me) couple of tiny textual details which in the context of the larger parallels and similar types and situations and literal details of the two novels suggest that Trollope had Austen's S&S in mind while he was writing The Small House--and was in a way rewriting it (I suppose Bloom would call this "overcoming" the predecessor).

Those who have read S&S may remember that Elinor Dashwood is very self-contained and far from telling Edward that she is in love with him could be interpreted as encouraging him to marry another heroine (Lucy Steele) and as herself in love with another hero (Colonel Brandon). Indeed Edward so interprets her thus, and it depresses him mightily.

Well I believe that in a scene between Lucy and Dr Crofts which occurs after what appears to Dr Crofts to be Bell's refusal of his love and proposal of marriage, Lily's description of Bell to Dr Crofts in order to make him aware Bell does indeed love him, there is a brief passage which recalls Austen's characterization of Elinor Dashwood. Lily says: "You know her nature, how silent she is, and averse to talk about herself" (Ch 42). The idea of the whole passage is Bell is deeply emotional, but cannot show it.

There are many details of Lily's illness which recall Marianne's. Lily's is the more "realistic" because we are given a name for it--scarlatina. But the progress of the illness and the way she manifests it recalls Marianne's in small details. Thus she becomes

"delirious. she would talk to her mother about Crosibie, sepaking of him as she used to speak in the autumn that was passed. But even in her madness she remembered that they had resolved to leave their present home; and she asked the doctor twice whether their lodgings in Guestwick were ready for them" (Ch 39).

Again Lily recovers very rapidly because her "constitution is good." We are told "her recovery was retarded by no relapse or lingering debility; but, nevertheless, she was forced to keep her bed fo rmany days after the fever had left her" (Ch 42).

The emphasis on knowing exactly what day Crosbie is marrying Alexandrina, Lily's attempt to deal with it, her collapse all recall Marianne on Willoughby's marrying Miss Grey. Both marriages occur in February--but I wouldn't make too much of that. Still. There it is. Also very moving is Lily's repeated genuine

attempt to put Crosbie out of her mind, and her failure to do so. In one scene she finally cracks. We get lines like "she was still strong in her resolve which she had made, that her grief should ot overpower. As she had herself said, the thing would not have been so difficult, had she not been weakened by her illness" (Ch 45). This is a direct recall, and it is as if Trollope is rewriting and saying Austen was far too harsh and unforgiving of Marianne; the reality is one cannot forget; even those who don't indulge a deep emotional loss and humiliation, who fight it, must succumb a little. They must bend or they will break.

To move back to general patterns. At the close of S&S Elinor and Marianne talk of how Willoughby has claimed he is now miserable with his rich wife, and the lesson he has learned is that riches don't count. Only love and companionship count. As those who have read the novel will remember Elinor says, wryly, yes, and had he married you Marianne he soon would have found that love and companionship matter little when he lacked the money for his horses, his beautiful clothes, his level of existence. I suggest that as we read Crosbie's "misery" in his marriage to Alexandrina for mere money and social status, and how he begins to think passion and companionship so central to a real or fulfilled married life, we are expected more than half to realize that had he married Lily he would have regretted the loss of that money and status and started to think how love is not all that important after all.

And now to a tiny neat parallel within the larger parallel situation of the young men: by the close of S&S Willoughby has learnt had he married Marianne he probably would have inherited Mrs Smith's estate at least; he would have been rich enough. So too does Crosbie find his expectations of penury with the woman he loved wrong. He is not given ready money for himself with Alexandrina. No. She is to be made a rich widow in future. In fact, he probably has no more money to spend married to Alexandrina than he would have had married to Lily. Perhaps less. He is promoted on his own bat, and yet finds himself very straitened for funds when married. While she brings no big sums for him to spend upon himself, she fully expects him to spend on her in a way Lily would not have. Lily would have bought him lovely dinner; Alexandrina wants a fancy carriage. His dressing room in Alexandrina's house is a cubbyhold below stairs. Lily would have given up to him her bedroom rather than have done that.

As I said in one of my earlier posts on the connection between these two novels (and I believe it really is thre) is that an important use of recognizing the novel "behind" a novel is that putting the two side-by-side deepens our understanding of both; reveals some of the assumptions of both. They become a kind of conversation.

Ellen Moody!

Re: Trollope's Small House at Allington & Austen's S&S

I have not yet done with these two books--the former I listen to daily in my car as read aloud by David Case; the latter I am writing an academic-style two part paper on. Whence the obsession--as well as my knowledge a number of people on this list, as well as many scholars (not to omit Wm Dean Howells in talking about the finest realistic fictions) agree that Trollope read and was influenced by Austen. Their works may be compared profitably.

First I want to bring out one more place where it seems to me Trollope is rewriting Austen. At the close of The Small House Lily refuses to consider marrying John Eames; there is a conversation between her and her mother in which she declares she still loves Crosbie as passionately as ever, is his wife in her heart, will spend the rest of her life mourning his loss, and, as if this isn't enough to convince her mother that at this point she's not ready to consider anyone, goes on to insist she does not and cannot ever love John Eames. Affection, respect, love-in-friendship, similarity of background, interest, moral attitudes--all these she grants she has for him, shares with him, but marry him she will not because intense passion "that way" is not there.

Those who have read S&S will remember that Marianne in less than 2 years after Willoughby deserts her marries Brandon--and we are told without that intense passion, but with the all those other things Lily says she has for John, shares with him. They will also remember how some critics have castigated Austen for this cop-out, this unnatural punishment of the heroine, even though Austen tells us that Marianne soon learned to love Brandon with the same intensity she once loved Willoughby--she could never love by halves (&c &c). They will also remember how critics and readers have said Austen's ending is not believable, distanced, curt; she dismisses Marianne to Brandon's arms in a couple of paragraphs.

Now I call attention to the response Lily Dale's refusal of John Eames has garnered since the novel was written. Many readers and critics have castigated her. Trollope's epithet of "prig" is aimed at her refusal of Eames. When the lady takes the worthy man because she can't get the wild, we are agin it; when she refuses the worthy man because she can't get the wild, we are agin it. But my point is not just the joke, it's hard to please readers, isn't it? It's that Trollope rewrites Austen in such a way as to lead us to the same moral stance; he believes, as Austen did, the sane person will not remain entrenched in a self-destructive love of someone who has badly maimed them. (Lily is presented as more than half-crazy, slightly disturbed in her conversation with her mother.) But in lieu of presenting the action as exemplary, he presents it with an intense psychological sweep that leaves us believing in the situation though we may deplore it.

My second point is to acknowledge the difference between the two novelists. Again Austen is a satirist. As A. C. Bradley says of her art, she emphasizes the salient; she does this in order to keep our minds and hearts within an intensely conceived but narrowly framed picture. Trollope is your realist; there is no narrowly conceived controlled frame. At the close of The Small House there is real sympathy for Crosbie (we return to see the world as he lives it in his wretched marriage), for Lady Alexandrina (equally unhappy), even for Miss Amelia Roper. And we get a portrait of the landlady, Mrs Roper as a type, a portrait which touches on so many issues and has nothing much to do with the immediate story but gives the book the depth of reality and what seems to be a bottomless compassion within the ability to judge clearly that is Trollope's own:

"Poor woman! Few positions in life could be harder to bear than hers. To be ever tugging at others for money that they could not pay; to desire respectability for is own sake, but to be driven to confess that it was a luxury beyond her means; to put up with disreputable belongings for the sake of lucre, and then not to get the lucre, but be driven to feel she was ruined by the attempt! How many Mrs Ropers there are who from year to year sink down and fall away, and no one knows whither they betake themselves! One fancies that one sees them from time to time at the corners of the streets in battereed bonnets and thin gowns, with the tattered remnants of old shawls upon their shoulders, still looking as though they had within them a faint resemblance of long-distant respectability. With anxious eyes they peer about, as though searching in the streets for other lodgers. Where do they get their daily morsels of bread, and their poor cups of thin tea,--their cups of thin tea, with perhaps a pennyworth of gin added to it, if Providence be good! (Oxford Ch 51, p 562).

It recalls to my mind what my father used to tell me of old people he saw when he was a boy (we are talking the 1920's) before social security. It has an upfront kindness and full-throated direct emotionalism one does not find in Austen. But there are many rooms, as James said, in the mansion of fiction.

We now move back in time. I wrote the following series of postings during the time I was on Ms Thompson's list (1997); during this time Elvira Casal and Duffy Pratt and Carol McGuirk answered me.

April 7, 1997

To Trollope List

Re: The Endings of The Small House & S&S

I tend to agree with Elvira that neither Austen nor Trollope is "forcing" the heroine not to take the novel's truly romantic hero--and also agree that part of the point of both novels is to make us redefine what is a good man. As she says, readers just want a fairy tale ending. They long for a wholly tragical Marianne who obligingly dies, and wouldn't mind a scene in which Willoughby (very like Lancelot at the moving close of Malory's long book--funny I have this book on my mind recently, can't say why), Willoughby, I say, Lancelot-like, sees his lady buried in the ground and weeps disconsolately over her.

But I do like Duffy's pointing out the irony so concisely: "Readers do not accept Lily's refusal to wed; nor do they accept Marianne's precipitous marriage." Damned if you do, and damned if you don't. I also think there is a difference in mood and presentation between the two novelists, or maybe I should call it emphasis, the one (Trollope) intently psychological and fully-rounded inwardly with lots of realistic details about Crosbie's life with Lady Alexandrina towards the close, the other (Austen) patterning the action so that we concentrate on its meaning rather than what is going on inside the characters.

Another interesting point of comparison I thought of as I read Duffy and Elvira's replies was this curious one: when Willoughby tells Elinor how he still loves Marianne, she is immediately on guard lest Willoughby be thinking of seducing Marianne this time as a married man, yet when he goes away for a flitting instance she finds herself wishing that at least the new Mrs Willoughby might obligingly die real soon. I would say this stays within the purview of accepted taboos in the period. Lily herself half-talks of Lady Alexandrina's death, speaks of herself as Crosbie's wife, and in her passionate assertion that if Lady Alexandrina were to obligingly remove herself from this earthly life she would take Crosbie back without hesitation. This is a breaking of taboos. Lily is intensely sexually passionate to the end. In the concluding chapters again and again we are made to remember with her how Crosbie kissed her and she returned his kisses and lived only for him to kiss her more. In her statement there are glints of hints that even if Lady Alexandrina didn't pop off, and Crosbie came back, Lily if not tempted would have to run and hide from him not to be tempted to run off with him--like who, well, like Lady Glen.

Great novels both, fascinating.
Ellen Moody

From: Ellen Moody
Subject: TROL Trollope and Austen

Dear Marcella and Trollope friends,

Marcella asks if anyone has ever written up the connections between The Small House and S&S I have. On Ms Thompson's Trollope list--or at least I began there, but was stopped by a series of attacks on Austen by someone claimed to loathe her. Two days ago John Letts said I am going to make a book for the Trollope Society for 2 years from now; I mean to begin writing it this spring holiday and work all summer. It's to be a series of interwoven conversations and interludes. Now one of the interludes will be a rewritten, concise version of what I began on old Trollope, a comparison between The Small House and S&S.

I still have the first three "beginning postings," and when I come back from work later today I'll post them again here. I would very much appreciate any comments, qualifications, additions, and so on.

I don't know the criticism on The Bertrams at all. I suspect there isn't much. I will carry on reading and see if I see more parallels and report back.

I do have yet another vaguer parallel: I think memories of Northanger Abbey and Henry Tilney lie behind the relationship between the witty, kindly, teacher-like hero, Jonathan Stubb and Henry Tilney. I know the teacher/tutor-student relationship is a paradigm for relationships between men and women in novels of the later 18th and throughout the 19th century, but at the time I saw some striking parallels in conception and in a couple of dialogues.

Trollope said Pride and Prejudice was the best novel in the English language. In his defense of novel reading ("Rational Amusement") and the abortive history of the novel, he begins with Austen and Edgeworth and it's clear he knows Austen's novels very well.

There are also many many parallels between his art and vision and that of Austen's. I will take the liberty of reposting something written on Ms Thompson's Trollope by Carol McGuirk too--later today.

Ellen Moody

To Trollope and Austen-l

Re: The Small House At Allington: Trollope and Austen

I am again cross-posting and hope I may be forgiven. On Austen-l there has erupted (on Austen-l things always erupt) a thread in which people are comparing Austen's art to that of Trollope, and as opposed to a similar eruption on Ms Thompson's list here where a few people have berated Austen with all their might, on Austen-l, a few people have berated Trollope with all theirs. One Dorothy Willis attempted to bring some thought to the matter, and I thought my response to her comments might be of interest to some of us, especially as we are now having a subgroup read of The Small House.

So here's my post:

This morning Dorothy Willis wrote:

"Although Trollope was a great admirer of Austen's books, and reworked many of her ideas, it is only fair to warn people that they are very different from Austen in many ways. I like Trollope, but I seldom laugh aloud while reading his books. He is much less "light, bright and sparkling."

In regard to _The Small House at Allington_, I think that his version of the end to Marianne's story is much more likely than Austen's.

"I have a theory that all novels which were originally published as serials benefit by being read slowly. Originally a reader got only a few chapters a month. No wonder so many modern readers are impatient. It takes a while to get acquainted with the characters and situations. Does anyone remember "Upstairs, Downstairs"? Only someone who watched episode after episode faithfully understood all the implications and undercurrents. It is the same with Victorian novels."

I am going to repeat Dorothy's claim, and expatiate just a bit on it. he Small House at AllingtonThe Bertrams reworks some of the themes and even conversations we find in Mansfield Park. Trollope often deals with similar issues and often expresses closely similar ideals about private life. It should come as no surprize that one finds the same critics writing about Austen and Trollope: Juliet McMaster has a wonderful book on Trollope; Barbara Hardy writes on both novelists; John Halperin too.

I also agree that _The Small House_ is written in a much more realistic way. The characters are developed far more slowly and shown as emerging from a specific time, cultural group, and class. They are more fully developed and the way the story slowly evolves makes us enter into it in a way that makes it very difficult to enter in on anyone's side such a strong way as to exclude sympathy for another point of view. In this Trollope's Small House reminds me of Mansfield Park --which is in some ways a proto-typical great 19th century novel.

I'd like to put it this way to those who are interested in this thread: a very revealing way to understand the roots of an author's work is to look at their first novel or novels. Often they are giving it their all at that point; often they are not subdued; they are working the essence of their material out for the first time. Austen's first texts are her juvenilia. They are highly satiric parodies of other literature; they are often harsh and hard in their response to any sentimentality, never mind Austen's attitude to false sentimentalism. They are hilarious. The themes of S&S grew out of the anti-romantic stance of the Juvenilia; there are tiny sketches of characters, situations, and names found in the Juvenilia which are also in S&S. Of course S&S is more mature and acknowledges seriously the depth of attraction and reality of romantic emotions in every day life, but Austen began with funny satire. She also never leaves off using caricatures, and her general milieu--as she saw it--was late 18th century satire which veered between melancholy and wit. She says in Sanditon whether we find Miss Esther Denham "striking and amusing" or she makes us "very melancholy: will depend upon whether "satire or morality prevail."

Trollope's first novel was a tragic and realistic delineation of Ireland in the late 1830's, just before the great famine was beginning to take it first victims. It is long; while it has some funny parts, it is for the most part sombre. He analyzes with great care the police state that had been set up by the British, and how this kind of thing attracts corrupt types who themselves feed off the necessary corruption of the Irish as they desperately try to make a living. He shows us why law is irrelevant in Ireland. When his hero murders the police officer who has seduced his sister, and is hanged for it we are treated to a full-length depiction of a trial wherein Trollope is concerned to point out to us how the decision any jury makes often has nothing to do with the truth of what the state claims the defendant did. Trollope argues that does not matter; the purpose of a trial is to provide some solution everyone agrees to believe in. He shows us that in the case at hand his hero is hanged not because of what he did, but because in this time and place he is identified with the Irish rebels whom the establishment hates and the average person in Ireland feared. Trollope's art does not grow out of satire. We might see him as one of those who followed in the footsteps of Scott, Victor Hugo, and in Italy, Manzoni. There are those who don't like his views--or don't like the kind of thing he does. I would not be surprized to find some people on this list finding Elizabeth Gaskell or George Eliot tiresome, though they like Trollope share many of the concerns of Austen and at times their work has close parallels to theirs.

Another way to look at this that might be helpful would be to ask who are the later 19th century ro 20th century practitioners of the novel closest to Trollope or Austen. For Trollope I would turn to Turgenev, Tolstoi, George Gissing, Arnold Bennet. For Austen I would turn to many of Thackeray's less well known sketch books and maybe _Vanity Fair_, to some of Elizabeth Bowen's books, to Evelyn Waugh, to (also) Barbara Pym, Dorothy Sayers, Margaret Drabble--and Bobbie Ann Mason (very like really very like). It's hard for me to think of a parallel for Trollope's kind of novel today probably because I don't read enough long realistic modern novels, but I also think that maybe these kinds of books are no longer finding favor among serious writers.


"From: Carol McGuirk
Subject: Austen/Trollope

Hello Trollope List,

I've been puzzled by the Austenism/Trollopism debate, as I had always assumed the two tastes went together. Evidently not, which is v. interesting.

Several posters have said that the -ism is crucial, but I don't know much about the cults themselves. So I've made a list focused on the two writers--ways in which they are similar. I conclude with a few differences.

  1. Both AT and JA write mainly about the gentry class, because that is what they mainly know. They also know a lot about keeping up genteel appearances when money is tight. Trollope's poor doomed father just missed becoming a baronet; Austen's family assigned a son away to a richer family, and a good thing they did, as wasn't it he who supported his mother and sisters after their father's income as a clergyman stopped following his death?
  2. Both writers use an intrusive narrator for commentary and framing.
  3. Neither likes "action" plots. (I love that about both of them.) Austen once ridiculed with much spirit a plot of a contemporary best-seller in which the heroine survived going over Niagara Falls in a canoe (I think she was eluding someone with designs on her chastity). Both authors see misery in the domestic sphere as the stuff of tragedy (& I agree); confusions and mixed signals in courtship as the stuff of social comedy. Because both take marriage quite seriously, both satirize people who marry, in their view, for the wrong reasons (money; social climbing; transient fits of lechery), and both AT and JA ask us to take quite seriously plots that resolve all or most conflicts in marriage.

    (I do love JA, yet I always feel when closing *Pride and Prejudice* that Darcy and Elizabeth are going to have a lot of shouting matches at Pemberley. AT, who was married himself--that probably makes the difference--idealizes marriage less than JA. Nonetheless, he too, like JA, sees marriage as the making or breaking of many of his characters, both women and men.)

  4. Both novelists do seem to attract fanatical admirers. Readers learn the style; they get to know the narrator. They become addicted. Some readers, in both camps, want to live, perhaps, in a less heterogeneous world, at least for a few hours. (You know, who's really like that is Angela Thirkell: what a closed social world she portrays. I feels its charm, but also find her neo-Barsetshire claustrophobic.)

    Both AT and JA generate worlds that reflect character; both write characters that reflect worlds. I mean that every detail they offer explains characters' motivations and brings the world of that character's options and possibilities fully before us. We know the people they create. AT said that Mr. Palliser "stands upon his feet" well, and he was so right.

    Both writers are in one sense realistic when they show characters in such believable peril of such common outcomes as bad marriages (Sir Hugh and Hermione Clavering) and undisciplined kids (Lydia Bennet). But in another sense, both writera are unrealistic in that both offer fairy tales in which the good usu. end happily and the bad unhappily. ("That is why they call it fiction," as Wilde's Miss Prism says to Cicely.)

  5. 5. Both AT and JA are in love with English landscape, its gentle scale and sweet verdancy and orderliness.

Differences? There are many of those, too, of course. Trollopeans must be interested in the workings of English politics to feel the full appeal and scope of his novels: we come to care almost as much about the fate of Mr. Palliser's penny as Mr. Palliser's marriage. Austen's novels tantalizingly exclude most politics, even though she wrote or rewrote them during the Napoleonic Wars. I know there are many scholars who have said otherwise, reading JA as a political writer; really I'm just saying that JA in no way is as interested in showing how the political process works; AT is completely interested in this.

Trollope's readers learn a great deal about the work-spheres of men of the middle and genteel classes, the clergymen and clerks and squires and MPs and attorneys and even the yeoman farmers like Larry Twentyman. Most of Austen's memorable characters are young women, though she is the first novelist to describe the new professional man of the l9th century (in Emma's brother-in-law--the guy who goes to his London warehouses each day and returns to his little family in Brunswick Square). The point about John Knightley, if that's his first name, isn't original with me, but is in Julia Brown's book *JA's Novels: Social Change and Literary Form* (Harvard UP, l979). It's getting to be an old book, but then Judy is an old friend, and she writes wonderfully well on Austen.

Finally, the novels of AT are far larger in scale than JA's, and Trollope lived longer and wrote many more of them.

I couldn't do without either writer. My feeling (and one reason I enjoy this list so much) is that Our Anthony's appeal and excellence are easy enough to experience, but very hard to quantify and analyze. I much appreciate the insights and ideas that appear daily in this forum. In my experience, Austen criticism is much more varied and lively--and it occasionally seems to be describing the same writer whose books I love. I often have trouble with the Trollope criticism, feeling that it isn't capturing the essence of AT's writings...

Regards, Carol McGuirk

Now we move forward in time. I wrote the following series in March/April of 1998 during the first group read of The Small House held on Trollope-l:

From: Ellen Moody
Subject: TROL Austen and Trollope

Since Marcella has gone off-line for the rest of the week, I will hold off posting on the real connections between The Small House and S&S. I think I have found enough and continual striking similarities and close variations on similarly construed themes and characters in these two works to say that Trollope had the earlier book in mind. In the case of Ayala's Angel or The Bertrams it may be a case of both authors using a similar paradigm available throughout the culture, though I have to say the name Bertram and some other details of the two situations (in Austen's MP and this of The Bertrams) give me pause.

But in the meantime I thought some of the newcomers to this list might like to read a really fine posting by Carol McGuirk in which she answered how she felt about rereading The Small House at Allington in terms of our debate over its likeness to Sense and Sensibility:

As to The Small House at Allington

Second time around, the novel seemed very similar to *Sense and Sensibility* in basic plot: Lucy is a sensible sister who tries to underplay her own romantic difficulties, and Ayala is an irrepressibly adolescent younger sister, very willful and lovely, with a far too idealized vision of the "angel" who will arrive to become her husband. The two sisters are co-heroines. And the novel begins with the sudden death of a much-loved but improvident bohemian father: like Elinor and Marianne (I'm sinking Austen's Margaret here), Lucy and Ayala, despite their beauty, intelligence, and refinement of taste, are severely handicapped (by their lack of fortune) as candidates for marriage. Brilliantly, Trollope explores the economic angle and the sisters' jeapordized future by providing a wealthy aunt (who adopts Ayala) and a debt-ridden uncle, a clerk who adopts Lucy. So in Trollope the bereaved sisters lose even each other. (I'm not spoiling--this is the opening premise.)

There's a worldliness in this novel, and a light-heartedness too (despite the gloomy circumstances on which the curtain opens) that I found rather unusual for Trollope. He frames Ayala's excessive dreaminess with considerable humor, and his portrait of the vulgar rich relatives, especially their efforts to social climb in Italy, is priceless.

It was a novel I'd thought would be too "lite" or at any rate simple to engross on a second reading, but I liked just as well, and noticed different things. Many on the list will have already read it; I envy those who haven't yet.

Carol McGuirk

Date: Fri, 06 Mar 1998 09:16:37 +0000
From: Marcella McCarthy

Subject: TROL Trollope and Austen

I'm delighted to feel that someone else thinks that The Small House is a rewrite of Sense and Sensibility. I have often felt this; mentioned it when I was an undergraduate, but--alas!!--my tutor was not at all interested in Trollope and thought this a very dull idea. But it fascinates me. I sometimes wonder if the way in which Trollope resisted the happy ending option was because of S&S. It's interesting how Marianne becomes more "conventional"--tames down (is beaten down) and is grateful for the love of a good man, whereas Lily Dale becomes less so in her refusal to marry the young man everyone else approves of, and who she really likes.

Lily has so much more spark in her!

I have recently re-read S&S and was again struck by the similarities. It is interesting how in S&S the second suitor is older, more "grown-up", so that Marianne has to grow up to appreciate him, whereas John Eames (the diminutive "Johnny" emphasises this) has to grow up in order to be even possibly worthy of Lily. She herself is always making remarks that emphasise her age and the feeling that she has of it all being too late for her. I think that Trollope has great insight into the problems faced by respectable but not rich Victorian girls vis-a-vis marriage. Brings it into the realm of the "political", you might say.

Yes, I can see The Bertrams and MP work in a similar way. Has this ever been written up? What an interesting article it would make! I haven't read "The Parson's daughter of Oxney Colne" for ages, and didn't think of Emma as I recall, I shall have to rush off and find a copy. This list is just too tempting--I keep getting distracted from work!


Date: Fri, 06 Mar 1998 13:47:22 +0000
From: Marcella McCarthy
Subject: TROL Re: Trollope and Austen

I'm interested by the Wilkie Collins comparisons as well. It's fascinating to speculate about who else might have been picking up on Austen; presumably she was immensely influential. In some ways, though, the sort of episodes Kishor describes belong to a different kind of influence--more what is going on vis-a-vis MP and The Bertrams, perhaps.

What particularly interests me about The Small House is how overt it seems to me the comparisons are. Less a result of influence than a direct riposte, almost--as though Trollope needed to address some of the "what if"s in the novel. It is in some ways an unsatisfying one, compared to say P&P or Persuasion. Edward Ferrars as a hero, for instance--does anyone else feel that he is a great falling-down from the witty and kind Henry Tilney or the bitterly self-knowing Darcy?

I would need to get a copy of Armadale, but would love to read it again, I'm all for that suggestion.

By the way, I shall be going off line in about an hour for about a week while they fit a new computer system here. Sorry in advance to miss any discussions--I'll catch up when I return!


We missed Marcella very much when she found she had to leave cyberspace.

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Page Last Updated 11 January 2003