The Whole Idea of an Angel of Light; Down in Scotland; Allusion in Trollope's Ayala's Angel; Sexual and other Anxieties in Trollope's fiction; Blue China; Scattered Thoughts on Art, Money & the Thick-Skinned; Aunt Dosett; Reginald Dosett's daily walk; AA as Fairy Tale; Trollope's interest in art; Cinderella and the Beasts; Frank Houston as Allen-a-Dale; Back to the Drawing Board; Silences; Art, money and Ayala; Self-Respect, Money & Aunt Dosett; Money, Power (?), and Thomas Tringle; AA: Allegory and Realism; Jonathan and Ayala; Victorian against hunting; Numbered Letters in Ayala's Angel and The American Senator; No Joking Matter

To Trollope-l


August 31, 1999

I think partly what's make the book not quite work for the reader in the way intended is the whole idea of an angel of light.

It's interesting, because I can see what he's getting at by dubbing the perfect or ideal husband as and "angel of light." As a single young woman I reacted almost defensively as I read Ayala's Angel to Trollope's portrayal of his central heroine as, for awhile anyway, unable to come to grips with the realities (i.e. the imperfections) of being human. And I wonder, what makes her think she is deserving of this angel? I'm not saying she's not, but I find it fascinating that she never questions whether she is worthy of her angel.

While I think many women today exhibit this same desire for an "angel of light," that is, a perfect companion, I think our society has trained us to always question whether we are good enough for that perfect person that we picture in our minds. We are constantly aware of our imperfections, and the person who is comfortable with their own flaws is rare.

I certainly wish I was that confident!

I'm at work so I can't develop this further...more later!


Re: Ayala's Angel of Light

I had not thought of the situation the other way round: what makes Ayala think she deserves such a perfect male. Who died and left her queen? Maybe I never expected I would have a perfect companion so didn't take this next step into wondering what gives Ayala the presumption.

I have thought that one reason so many marriages in Western Society fail or come to an end is that each partner expects too much of the other. As individuals they think marriage gives them some right to make high demands. Or they are driven to make such demands by the society around them.

Ellen Moody

Date: Fri, 26 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Down in Scotland

Here's a question I've been meaning to ask of our Trollope friends in the UK for some time. Reading the weekly Ayala calender and seeing the title of chapter 18 brought it to mind again. Why is travel to London always "up" and away from London always "down," regardless of the relative altitudes or positions on the map of the beginning and end of the journey? This is apparently normal usage the UK, and seems to have been so for centuries, but it sounds odd here in the U.S. I can't imagine anyone in Albany, New York, for example, saying she indended to go "up to New York City." The chapter title "Down in Scotland" sounds especially strange to my ear, as it implies the even stranger phrase "Down in the Highlands." Does anyone know the origin of this usage?

Re: Down in Scotland/Up to London/On monte à Paris

"On monte à Paris". It's more than the way it's phrased. Richard Cobb in his wonderful Paris and Its Provinces titles his first chapter "La Montée à Paris". It isn't just London or the British landscape.

Early in said book, Cobb writes:

"My subject is, literally, as well as mentally, a two-way one: after la montée, la descente (for one always comes up to the capital, even if, i nfact, one lives on the heights aboe it, in Sèvres, in ?Clamart, Chaillot, on the Butte Montmartre, or in Belleville)" (Paris and Its Provinces 1792-1802, Richard Cobb, p. 26).

I don't remember how people who lived in the boroughs of New York City which were not Manhattan (meaning Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx, Staten Island being never considered, really part of New Jersey) referred to going to Manhattan beyond the phrase "into the City". That's not up or down. It is, however, curious as New York City as an entity emerged in the late 19th century when Manhattan merged with 4 other boroughs.

Wayne is probably onto something which has to do with the value of cosmopolitan life. Vienna, Venice, Berlin, cities like these exist apart from some other realm. Such places offended the Nazis deeply; they did what they could to destroy the cultural life therein. I remember how in one of Jane Jacobs' books, The Life and Death of Cities (wasn't it?), she argued that such cities should be able to secede from the region in which they were embedded.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

January 27, 2001

To Victoria

Re: Query on an Allusion in Trollope's Ayala's Angel

On Trollope-l, we are reading Anthony Trollope's Ayala's Angel and I have come across an allusion, the editor of the Oxford Classics paperback, Julian Thompson was unable to locate ("I have not been able to identify ..."). The hero of this novel, a sort of Henry Tilney cum-beast (supposed very ugly, but enchantingly intelligent, witty, kind, with much savoir faire and penetrating common sense about life and people), one Jonathan Stubbs, lacks a quality the heroine, who is walking around the world with a dream of an ideal prince she labels 'an Angel of Light', feels such a Prince must have. Our narrator suggests that a proposed 'Angel' could do without many things, but he must have this quality; in the heroine's mind it's an unconscious sine qua non.

The quality is caught thus:

She [Ayala] hoped she might meet him [this hero, Jonathan Stubbs] again very often. He was, as it were, the Genius of Comedy, without a touch of which life would be very dull. But the Angel of Light must have something tragic in his composition -- must verge, at any rate, on tragedy. Ayala did not know that beautiful description of a "Sallow, sublime, sort of Werther- faced man', but I fear that in creating her Angel of Light she drew a picture in her imagination of a man of that kind.

Can anyone identify 'Sallow, sublime, sort of Werther- faced man'? My guess is Thackeray; it sounds so insinuating. I remember a funny poem by Thackeray mocking The Sorrows of Werther where Charlotte is pictured endlessly cutting bread and butter (which she was doing when in the novel she first saw him). Perhaps it is too light to be Bulwer-Lytton? Could it be Disraeli? Rhoda Broughton (whom I've never read)? Wilkie Collins? All these novelists Trollope read assiduously.

If one could know the novel in which the original passage occurs, or the character to whom it refers, one might have a clue to the satire upon naive sexuality embedded in this clever novel.

Inquiring minds want to know.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel: Sexual and other Anxieties in Trollope's fiction

Toward the end of Chapter XVIII, 'Down in Scotland,' Isadore Hamel and Jonathan Stubbs fall into talking about Ayala. Stubbs remarks, "I don't suppose any amount of experience will teach Ayala how many shillings there are in a pound." Hamel thinks this is as it should be: "I don't think a girl is much improved by knowing how many shillings there are in a pound." To Stubbs' observation that the skill might come in handy, Hamel replies that while it might, "here, as in other things, one acquirement will drive out others." This gives remarkably trenchant expression to what we might call masculine anxiety about feminine delicacy. Imagine trying to argue today that any skill constituted a drawback!

RJ Keefe

Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel: Blue china

Hello all

Near the start of Ayala's Angel, I was interested to see that the artist Egbert Dormer's little luxuries in life included "a blue set of china for his dinner table" and that he also threw "a few little dinner parties to show off his blue china."

This reminded me of Oscar Wilde's famous remark "I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china," but to be honest I didn't really think of Trollope and Wilde as contemporaries and thought it must be a coincidence.

However, it says in the Penguin Companion that Trollope may well have had this comment in mind - Wilde said it while he was still a student at Oxford in the 1870s. (According to Richard Ellmann's biography of Wilde, the blue china in question was a pair of Sevres vases.)

Mullen comments: "This fatuous remark was apparently making the rounds of Society two years before Trollope began the book. Such an attitude was completely at variance with Trollope's own concepts of both art and life." Mullen also mentions that Dormer is keen on "art for art's sake", which again sounds like Wilde. I like the reminiscences about Dormer's conversations with Hamel where he lectured the young sculptor to "let his art be everything - above wife and children, above money, above health, above even character" - but completely failed to live up to his own sermons!

Even if Trollope didn't approve of the "art for art's sake" ideal, though, he himself makes quite a few Wilde-style comments as narrator in this book. I love the moment where Tom goes round to the Crescent to propose "in the plenitude of all his rings" - and we are told "Tom, moreover, had a waistcoat which would of itself have been suicidal." You can just imagine Wilde making this comment.

On the question of possible alternative titles for Ayala's Angel... I wondered if "The Artist's Daughters" might have been a good title, because the artistic background seems so important to the way in which both Ayala and Lucy see the world.

I also like Trollope's titles where he uses a colloquial phrase, for instance Can You Forgive Her? or He Knew He Was Right. There are one or two chapter headings in AA which have this sort of flavour - "You Are Not He" is one example which might fit the book as a whole. But I suppose it must have been important to Trollope to have the angel image in the title of the book.

Bye for now
Judy Geater

I think at this time the "Willow Pattern" (blue on white) went into commercial production. At back of my mind I have some recollection of a "blue china" reference in the William Morris exhibition catalogue - I'll check it out later.

Rory O'Farrell

In the catalogue of the 1996 William Morris retrospective exhibition at the V&A Jennifer Hawkins Opie says "Nineteenth-century Dutch patterns too were a continuing tradition... most particularly in a distinctive blue on the white tin-glazed background." She illustrates with photos of several exhibits of Dutch and or UK manufacture. I haven't put my hand on the willow pattern reference. The Oxford World's Classics Ayala notes that "blue china was...fostered by Murray Marks" and the above Opie article says that Morris had contacts with Marks, who supplied Whistler and Rossetti with Chinese 17th & 18th c blue and white porcelain.

Rory O'Farrell

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
From: Graham Law
Subject: Query on an Allusion in Trollope's Ayala's Angel

On Trollope-l, we are reading Anthony Trollope's Ayala's Angel and I have come across an allusion, the editor of the Oxford Classics paperback, Julian Thompson was unable to locate ("I have not been able to identify ...") . . .

. . . Ayala did not know that beautiful description of a "Sallow, sublime, sort of Werther- faced man', but I fear that in creating her Angel of Light she drew a picture in her imagination of a man of that kind.

Concerning Ellen Moody's query on the phrase "Sallow, sublime, sort of Werther-faced man" cited in Trollope's Ayala's Angel:

I suspect the phrase is rather earlier than Ellen thinks and comes from a poem rather than a novel. I'm at home today, and don't have the resources to hand, but seem to recall that Byron allows cites the phrase "Werther-faced man" in describing Don Juan to his publisher. Perhaps the annotations in the LA Marchand edition of the letters would sort out where it originates.

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
From: Marc Plamondon
Subject: Query on an Allusion in Trollope's Ayala's Angel

The phrase "sallow, sublime, sort of Werter-fac'd man" occurs in Thomas Moore's poem "The Fudge Family in Paris" (letter 5, line 98).

Marc Plamondon

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Reply-To: Subject: [trollope-l] Query on an Allusion in Trollope's Ayala's Angel

In response to my query, Michael wrote that he found through a search-engine on the Net the following paragraph by Byron:

"I meant to have made him a Cavalier Servente in Italy, and a cause for divorce in England, and a Sentimental 'Werther-faced man' in Germany, so as to show the different ridicules of the society in each of those countries, and to have displayed him gradually gate and blase as he grew older, as was natural." -- Lord Byron, describing Don Juan in a letter to his publisher search-engine shows how effective computers can be. "

On Victoria I got the following answer:

I suspect the phrase is rather earlier than Ellen thinks and comes from a poem rather than a novel. I'm at home today, and don't have the resources to hand, but seem to recall that Byron allows cites the phrase "Werther-faced man" in describing Don Juan to his publisher. Perhaps the annotations in the LA Marchand edition of the letters would sort out where it originates.

Graham Law

Since Trollope couldn't have read Byron's private correspondence, he came across the phrase in Don Juan. It's interesting how Trollope returns to Byron as a poet and figure again and again in these books.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

From: "Judy Geater"
To: "Ellen Moody"
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2001

Dear Ellen,

Many thanks for the tips on short stories.

I have read quite a lot of the tales including "La Mère Bauche" which I loved - quite like An Eye for an Eye in its tragic power - and also "The Parson's Daughter of Oxney Colne" which cast an interesting sidelight on some of the novels. But I haven't yet read "The Spotted Dog" or "Frau Frohmann", so I will hope to get to those soon.

Thanks also for your previous message - I have once again been getting very behind with answering email, I fear, after another busy week at work. I am hoping to jump in some more on Ayala's Angel this week and am also reading He Knew He Was Right with Lisa Guidarini's reading list, the Rogue Book Group. There are nice people there but it is really too small and quiet for a workable list and they tend to read books very fast (they are allowing three weeks for this 1,000-page novel!) so I don't post there so much these days.

I must say I would love to read your comments about the art world and why Trollope didn't include more about the Bohemian lifestyle in Ayala - you said you might go into this more on the list, and, if you do, I will read with great interest. I see Trollope does touch on the unconventional lifestyle in Rome and mentions that Hamel is illegitimate, but doesn't go into this theme as much as he does in "Mrs General Talboys" which, I see from Sutherland, caused a lot of controversy!

Cheers again

To Trollope-l

January 29, 2001

Re: Ayala's Angel, Chs 13-18: Scattered Thoughts on Art, Money & the Thick-Skinned

RJ's quotation from the conversation between Hamel and Stubbs prompts to say how curious it is that when Trollope has described such an apparently unconventional pair in an unconventional setting (it's clear Stubbs does not build his home to make a setting for approved social castes to get together in a manner that endlessly flatters their hierarchical position, a desire that may fuel many a get-together still), the words he puts in their mouths have nothing to do with art or unconventionality but once again (as in much of this book) turn on sex and money. We could ask, Would such a pair of men really utter such quips at one another? The conversation is actually a performance on a stage put there for our amusement. We accept it the way we accept a novelist's putting into the mouths of supposedly teenage characters thoughts which come from the mature novelist him or herself

I return to Sig's early comments about his reservations about this book. It has real problems if you are going to it for any kind of investigation or dramatization of realities in life -- which we are entitled to think about since, like much of Trollope's fiction, it is presented as 'true to life'. Those reviewers who discussed the novel favorably praised it on grounds of its 'undeniable reality, as regards the sayings, and doings, and correspondence of the various personages ... the style of writing is pleasant, chatty, sprightly, amusing": "Mr Trollope is undoubtedly an adept at describing society in its everyday life. He reveals the motives of the most trivial actions". One writer hit a central impulse in it: "money troubles in each case are the difficulty which makes the story possible" (Anthony Trollope: The Critical Heritage, ed. DSmalley, pp. 482-483, 485).

The above is a bit unfair: Ayala's troubles with Tom and his with her derive from causes very different from money, from the physiological and the imaginative. And the book does repeatedly delve into art as a solace to existence, the imaginative being available though, only after you can dismiss from your mind, the material. Perhaps that is the crux of the book, where Aunt Dosett's as the supremely impoverished life comes in.

Judy and I have been talking off-list about how Trollope doesn't include the Bohemian lifestyle of the artistic community which he nonetheless continually alludes to: Hamel is illegitimate. It may be that this is not put into a novel meant not to bring a blush to the cheek of a young person, and instead of it we get the inanity of young girlish conversations between Nina and Ayala, both of them figuring forth how they are the product of an environment. The Marchesa comes in as the luxurious disillusioned nurse: time for beddie-bye, girls.

Still others in the period were writing this way. Perhaps one of the reasons Trollope couldn't sell his book was he was also beginning to seem old-hat. He was mocked by a caricature of the Barsetshire series shortly before he died. And there is the question of why he omitted all discussions of art when they would have been realistic coming out of the mouths of people like Hamel or Stubbs. Instead we get simply floating suggestive allusions. It certainly makes his book feel strongly philistine and curiously obsessive about what the author wants apparently wants us to reject on the grounds it's dangerous or we can't afford it and have that nice pension at the end too. Just think a luxurious coffin and lovely funeral, much respect at the wake as all wait to hear the will read. Also during our lives people like the Baldinis will visit us; we too can get to go to the ball in acceptable gowns. Alice Thomas Ellis passes lightly over these themes, ironically put: young Tom is someone who today would be 'advised to seek psychiatric help'; Sir Thomas is 'the real hero of the book' (Folio Society edition, Introduction, p. xii). The latter comment is arguably correct.

What to me is the problem in the book is its nature as softened caricature. That's where the thinness, deficiency lies. Aunt Dosett is a caricature: no one would be as obsessive as this, without any inner life whatsoever -- or she'd be driven, more like Austen's Mrs Norris. If a woman was like this for real, she'd be getting back at others all the time. Uncle Reginald would not be so emotionally comfortable (if not all that physically) over his gin and tonic in the evenings. He would walk very slowly. The walk is part of the book's sort of realism: there are studies of cities when people had to walk home from work -- mid-19th century. The outside acceptable trip was 45 minutes. This coheres with what people are willing to accept easily in a car today. 45 minutes. This is just about what it would take Uncle Reginald who is also this way not only saving fare (horse- drawn omnibuses) but avoiding the underground -- which was there at the time. It might be the stops didn't cohere with his house, but Trollope is also registering to those who know the underground was there and infra dig for the upper middle class that Uncle Reginald chooses to walk for more than the peace and quiet and escape of the moment. Recently there was a good thread on Victoria about just this rejection of the underground as mixing one with people beneath one's caste.

So reality is there, but its reality of surface. Sig points to the unreality of the young couple at the center. The plot line is too symmetrical, the switching artificial. We can see the softening in the sudden invitation to Ayala to come back; the fairy-godmother Marchesa who turns up to take our princess to a ball. Poor Aunt Dosett must always play the dour witch. Still probability of the daylight mind, of social experience as seen in the drawing-room is what novels of this type usually offer. Trollope gives us that in abundance.

The most interesting question is why Trollope plays on this theme of money versus romance, the imagination versus things -- beyond the self-expression of his own anxieties (sexual and otherwise) through the males. He longs for bright romance while preaching to himself about the necessity of financial prudence. He wants to convince himself and justify his own public image -- one he worked hard to present in his An Autobiography, which paradoxically did him much harm with the critics and artistic and intellectual community when it was published. He doesn't go into the art world for real as he would have to present the realities of their financial as well as sexual lives -- and his readership wouldn't have liked that. One of the sharp memorable scenes in The Last Chronicle of Barset happens when the artist tears up the painting of the rich heiress in front of her witch-mother's face. He defies the £750 (or so) she is offering him. Yet we can see in his life that he is painting pictures which flatter people just like her. His talent is continually prostituted. Henry James invented a style that avoids such 'vulgarities' -- he always did call Trollope vulgar, but it is in the dramatisation of this kind of vulgarity Trollope finds his real strength.

When I talk of the problem of Trollope not bringing in the art discussions, I don't mean to suggest that he should have presented his characters talking like Walter Pater. I mean he had heard real art talk which is often a mix of sudden strains of idealism and intense personal expression and concern for something being done which means something and sudden leaps of enthusiasm over whatever is at the moment enjoyed as beautiful, tasty, sensuous, lovely, or funnily ugly or outrageously hideous or whatever the thing captures -- and the intensely vulgar: how much did you get for that picture? why did you paint that? the woman wanted it that way. I have to get my manuscript under 90,000 words or it won't do. He had it in him to write this kind of thing and that way -- he had heard it himself. He was a connoisseur himself of paintings. Maybe he hesitated because his targeted audience would have felt alienated as this wasn't them. He was seen as writing for the circulating library crowd, for the Dosetts and Ayalas. It is only in the 20th century that novels move away from the love-social plot into these areas -- including in the 20th century novels that dramatise people in the business world, with its ups and downs and hypocrisies and terrors being the center of the book.

As it is, Trollope's book is curiously empty at the center, and we are left to contemplate the thick-skinned outrageous conversation of a Frank Houston to Gertrude as he pretends to play Allan-a-Dale. One of the themes of the book is the contrast between the thick- skinned (Frank Houston, Traffic, Tom Tringle at first) and those who shrug at such talk (Sir Thomas, Marchesa, Gertrude, Augusta) and accept it in order to get the physical being they want. Gertrude is willing to allow this guy Frank to talk in the crassest ways to her, to on the surface threaten her with his old girlfriend. This is on a par with young Tom's acceptance of Ayala's brutal insults.

I'll close with a comparison of this book with Is He Popenjoy? since that's the book we just read. In a recent London Review of Books, Lorna Sage describes the novels of Henry Green and says what is good about them is they 'explore the dissolution of the old social and sexual plots that kept -- still keep -- the heritage [of the novel and novels] on the road'. In Is He Popenjoy? Trollope exposed the discontinuities between the social and sexual plots: how hollow is the social, but how that's all we have to keep the savagery of human beings in control. In this novel he has closed up this gap, and one reason for this is his inability to go into the art part of his theme beyond except as something out-there not defined, not dramatized which somehow strongly affects sexual life, happiness, and some people's finances (Dormers, Hamels). But then he had such trouble placing "Mrs General Talboys". Rejected by the Cornhill after much fussing, it appeared in The London Review, and then once again when he gathered a group of short stories for a single volume publication. It is rarely discussed. Obliquely it has much to tell us about the people in Italy Trollope saw on his visits to his brother. At the same time he had to wait three years to get Ayala into print and it never took, still hasn't with the general public.

There is a lesson here about the artist and his public, and questions to ask which have no good answer, among them, Who should you write for? where put your trust? And also about breaking away, how important it is even if so very painful. Otherwise you endlessly tell stories about Tom Tringles and how Gertrudes accept the horrors that Frank Houstons represent with the justification that so many young men are just like Frank Houston. To which the answer is, So what?

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel, Chs 13-18: Scattered Thoughts ... Aunt Dosett

Ellen wrote

"What to me is the problem in the book is its nature as softened caricature. That's where the thinness, deficiency lies. Aunt Dosett is a caricature: no one would be as obsessive as this, without any inner life whatsoever -- "

I must mildly disagree with Ellen's assertion about the thinness of some of the characters, such as Aunt Dosset. I know lots of people with apparently no inner life whatever, and I find Aunt Dossett sufficiently realistic to be believable. And I know at least one or two real people (at least they claim to be real) who are much more unbelievable than any of Trollope's creations, and who would be right at home amidst any of Dicken's caricatures. Aunt Dossett is not nearly as obsessive as ... well, I won't mention any names, in case any of my relatives is listening.

Ellen's excellent post is going to require rereading and pondering before I respond to it further, but I did want to make that point ;-)

Wayne Gisslen

Re: Ayala's Angel, Chs 13-18: Reginald Dosett's daily walk

Off-list someone has suggested to me that Reginald Dosett's daily walk would have taken an hour and a quarter. That's a lot of walking each day. At that rate -- with this kind of exercise, he should drop the insurance policy. He will outlive his wife sitting there sewing her towels and sheets. But if so -- if he's a heroic walker -- the ironies are then somewhat harder. Though I don't see the time as wasted -- nor in the novel does he.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel, Chs 13-18: Scattered Thoughts on Art, Money & the Thick-Skinned

Trollope has a few female characters whose fear of fun has led them to hate it. In this regard, Aunt Dosett reminds me of Dorothea Prime in Rachel Ray and also a little of John Caldigate's in-laws - although Aunt Dosett is a much more sympathetic and character than either of these - perhaps because she seems to be acting the part of a puritan because she thinks he circumstances deserve it, rather than because it is her first choice of how to live.

From: "Catherine Crean"

In Ayala's Angel Aunt Dosset has to observe strict economies in running her household. Her limited resources are stretched even further when her niece joins her. Mr. Dosset has to resort to gin and water after his meals, which induces a sense of shame since gin and water is "lower class." In an outburst, Ayala makes a remark to her Aunt about hating the smell of gin and water. Aunt Dosset has to explain to Ayala what sacrifice the family is making in order to keep a roof over Ayala's head. Yes, Ayala is young and self-centered, but I find Trollope's depiction of Ayala masterful. Ayala's selfishness is shown to us in interesting ways. She is good hearted. She tries to attend Aunt Dosset's teaching on how to stretch a joint of mutton, but in the end Ayala is no stoic. The depiction of Ayala is honest, sometimes brutally so. She is one of these people who doesn't intend to be hurtful or disruptive, yet manages to be so.

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel, Chs 13-18: Scattered Thoughts on Art, Money & the Thick-Skinned: Addendum

At 13:53 01\01\29, Ellen Moody wrote:

Off-list someone has suggested to me that Reginald Dosett's daily walk would have taken an hour and a quarter. That's a lot of walking each day.

I would think that is about right. We must remember that the centre of Notting Hill has moved somewhat over the years. The Dosetts live in Kingsbury Crescent - look at a London map and you will see that the various Crescents are for the most part to the west of the centre circle around which Notting Hill seems to be laid out (A-Z page 59 H7).

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] The Art Discussion

The discussion of art that Ellen Moody finds lacking in Ayala's Angel stands in nicely for all the discussions of imaginative matters that don't appear in Trollope's novels. He excludes such talk as rigorously as Henry James hews to point of view. This occurred to me during a reading of Dr. Thorne, although I can't say what it was about that novel that triggered such a reflection. Every novel that I've read since bears it out.

Why does Trollope excise the kind of conversations that must have added interest not only to his own but to his characters' lives? I can think of two reasons, each good enough to stand on its own. First, such conversations are highly allusive as anybody discovers upon entering a sophisticated circle. References to paintings, books, plays, and the like make up most of the topic sentences. Trollope and his friends may have been au courant about paintings, but his readers would have known them only from somewhat inferior - and colorless - engravings. To talk about another book is to venture into literary criticism. And so on.

Second, such conversations are beside Trollope's point - about which he's as I say as relentless as James. There must be exceptions, but I can't think of any: the point of each of Trollope's novels (even La Vendee is the settling down of a 'happy' couple. Sometimes the settling down happens only at the very end, after many trials; in Is He Popenjoy?, interestingly, the 'settling down' takes place at the beginning but the 'happily ever after' waits until the end. All I mean by happiness is this: a couple's finding its place in the adult world. Certainly the stories of ancillary characters are interesting - Roger Carbury, for example, discovers, in The Way We Live Now, that he will not be settling down with anybody, while his sister-in-law finds companionship long after stopping to look for it. But even the ancillary stories are stick to the point. Whether Trollope intended to write moral guidebooks for young readers or not, the business of marrying and settling down (as I keep putting it) seems to have been the only one that interested him as a novelist.

RJ Keefe

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] AA as Fairy Tale

While it is true that Trollope presents his stories using a realistic style, he nevertheless seems to be working from a fairy-tale pattern in this book. No one has commented so far on the references to Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast, but surely it is in Trollope’s mind that his main characters are playing out a similar plot-line? I don't mean that the story follows either of these tales in parallel fashion but that Trollope seems to be suggesting that his story is a kind of fairy tale.

Consistent with this model is the arbitrary arrangement involving the two orphaned daughters, which we would readily accept in a fairy tale and perhaps object to in a realistic novel. But other elements fit the pattern as well: the wealth of the Tringles, the poverty of the Dosetts, and the ugliness of Jonathan Stubbs. (Not to get ahead, but in Chapter 20 we have references to Ayala as a damsel being held prisoner by a dragon.) I suppose the whole concept of the Angel of Light also fits.

Ayala referred to young Tom as the Beast. She saw herself in the role of Beauty -- but not in the physical sense: “Her assumed superiority existed in certain intellectual or rather artistic and aesthetic gifts, -- certain celestial gifts” (Chapt 13, pg 123 Oxford). This was her non-material inheritance from her deceased father.

My knowledge of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast is pretty sketchy, but Cinderella was a poor orphan girl who suffered abuse at the hands of her foster family. In Beauty and the Beast, Bella fell in love with the ugly beast thereby transforming him into a handsome young hero.

If we read the novel as a fairy tale instead of as a traditional realistic novel, does it make any difference?


Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] The Art Discussion

In response to RJ, while Trollope does often leave out many kinds of areas of experience which we wish he would have dramatised, he has far more interests in his novels than the business of the young couple settling down and marrying. Even on the level of mere plot, many of his stories focus on other matters, especially political and larger social arrangements. He is interested in colonialism, in church politics, male violence, financial money arrangements and how they are the basis of society, and are being corrupted (as he understood it). The latter is the core of The Way We Live Now. Trollope quickly grew bored of the Carburies as such. They don't carry the story.

IThese many different kinds of plots weave back and forth from the obligatory love story which sometimes Trollope has at heart and sometimes doesn't. In all of them too, these stories are the clotheslines on which all sorts of other meditations and interests amd themes, moral, psychological, ethical, and personal, are explored. In Is He Popenjoy? Trollope's very purpose is to expose to us the disjunctions and losses in the arrangements in ways which reflect on aspects of social experience that have little to do with the young couple at the center. In Ayala his hero may well be Sir Thomas; his themes are about romance and imagination and many other things too. It reduces the books to their barebones and makes one wonder why we would find any interest in them. There's so much more there.

Sir Walter Scott has some good lines lamenting the necessity of the young couple at the center. They must be there, and he has real interest and sympathy for them at times. But it's the marginal or side-shows that are the electrifying cores of his books.

And he does discuss art: in his Editor's Tales and there makes the stories of artists relevant to our world today. I forgot about these. I would adduce the real interest, moving and funny of stories like Fred Pickering's and Mary Gresley's, of "Panjandrum" and "The Spotted Dog" to show Trollope could tell such a story at the center of his tale when he wanted to.

Cheers to all,

Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000
Subject: [trollope-l] Trollope's interest in art

Hi Catherine,

You asked a bit ago about AT's interest in the Pre-Raphs and in art in general. During a bout of insomnia last night I start reading Mullen & Munson's The Penguin Companion to Trollope and came onto the Art entry. He was indeed very interested having been "encouraged" by his mother and in later life visited galleries wherever he went at times bringing a "chair with him in order to study the paintings at leisure."

"He was a regular visitor to the Royal Academy's exhibitions and it was rare for him to visit a foreign city without hurrying to see 'the pictures.' He knew artists like Holman Hunt and Leighton through his membership of the Moray Minstrels and was a particular friend of Sir John Millais, whom he met at the first Cornhill dinner in 1860."

Do you remember me pouring over Angela's edition of Orley Farm last November with the beautiful Millais illustrations?


To Trollope-l

January 29, 2001

Re: Ayala's Angel, Chs 13-18: Cinderella and the Beasts

In response to Todd, Wayne, and Jeremy,

This novel is indeed consciously modelled on a fairy tale. Of particular interest is Trollope's use of the word 'beast' for Jonathan Stubbs as well as Tom Tringle. In many of his novels we see him creating parallel plots and character types who reinforce, undercut or ironically comment on one another and the various themes of the book; however, it's rare to catch him acknowledging what he's doing. This suggests that in this novel Trollope has more to the fore of his mind that this is a novel he is writing; he is not quite as lost in the world of his creation as if it were real as he is in some others. He also has more than one Cinderella: later in the book Imogen becomes another variant on the type both Ayala and Lucy figure forth.

There is an allegorical quality to the type casting as well as the language and literary allusions here. In all Trollope's books he makes use of types -- that's why readers find it easy to move into them. In this one the types are as essential in the evolution of the plot as the individual idiosyncracies he gives them -- or their imagined psychologies. The stories of Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella are age-old, perhaps the earliest polished ones were in late 17th century France. The interest or irony of the Beast story is this ugly shaggy slightly awesome powerful monster turns out to be a Prince Charming after all. In most variants he sheds his ugliness by the end of the story through some magical potion, however, in all before that Beauty has learned to love him. She has seen his inner nature and yielded to that; then the outer transformation happens. In Trollope's story we won't have any magical potions, and the princely nature of only one Beast will be recognised by Beauty.

I'd go further and say Trollope is aware he has given us some real Beasts: Traffic, Houston. The word 'lout' continues to appear. Trollope is asking us to decided who is the true lout in this book. It's not Tom. Trollope did dislike the false conclusions about life some types of romance encouraged in people: among them, Byron's seductive poetry about the tortured psyches; the tinsel of pseudo-medievalism. The latter allows Frank Houston to flatter himself; Trollope's rereads the Walter Scott poem to show us how Allan-a-Dale is anything but unselfish, chivalrous, charming.

It does make a real difference is we read the novel as a modern fairy tale -- as it makes a real difference if we read Is He Popenjoy? as a psychologized replay upon the sordid parables found in the railway stalls of Trollope's period. We can then follow the larger lines of the story as well as pay attention to the allusive language which has dream resonances. The book announces itself as playful so we don't truly worry about the grim economic and other insecurities we see in the lives of the Dosetts. Our Heroines cannot end up in the street. So we can enjoy the book in a different way from the way we would a novel that really demanded we believe in what is happening in its pages.

To look at the novel this way also makes the softened caricature nature of many of the ancillary characters more acceptable. Wayne says he has known people who apparently have such little imaginative life, so few thoughts and resources outside the grind of tasks. I italicised his use of the important qualification. I can't deny we may seem to see such dull miserable souls and have to cope with them; there may even be such. However, in my experience -- and in my earlier family life I knew a lot of working class people who seemed to sit and watch TV endlessly, have no thoughts beyond the most banal -- if you pay ever so little attention to them, be courteous or show a sympathy which clearly has no threat whatsoever, from any point of view (like one which would seem to suggest they have failed themselvs), someone who seems to be this way will after a while open up and tell you about some interest of theirs. It need not be in the arts at all. They may never indulge it by buying anything. But they do dream and somewhere in their days or nights they are doing something in their minds about it. Even a dog has its aspirations for enjoyment; even dogs dream. (Not that I have anything against dogs or mean to seem to condescend to them; I use this animal merely as metaphor for the kind of animal life we regard as living wholly in the immediate moment.) Aunt Dosett is a simplified character: she is not allowed life beyond the role Trollope wants her to play in the allegory.

Aunt Dosett is also softened. We are not asked to believe that she never ever has a really mean, small petty revenge on those she gives up her days for, but we are never shown her taking her frustrations out. The comparison to be made is with characters like Mrs Norris or many another woman novelist's frustrated impoverished type. I say woman novelist because women are particularly good at this sort of thing: it's what they have had to endure from one another in their past experiences. The angel in the house poisons the existence of others in small ways as she is allowed none at all. All people want to get something for themselves out of life for real. It is true that many Victorian novelists deny heriones real aggression, real violence, real anger. This is not allowed. But in this novel this kind of softening extends to the males too: for example, Sir Thomas. Such a man would be much more ruthless than he appears at home. And Trollope knows it. That's why we don't go to the office to watch Sir Thomas raking in those millions and making sure they stay in his columns on the ledger. We are only allowed to see Mr Traffic in relationship to his boots and to Sir Thomas.

If we extend this outwards to political or general thought -- which Trollope's novels encourage us to do -- In a sense to think that such people -- say working class, or agricultural labours, or the hard-working business types of the world -- are without this kind of burden of antagonism and adult complexities -- is to condescend and to reinforce the beliefs upper class leisured and educated people have had about lower class, poorer, uneducated people or people 'busy in the world' which allow them to dismiss such people as 'other', as not able to, not wanting, the 'finer' things of life. Trollope's texts are by no means free of such condescension, but in this case his aim is merely to free us of the distinctly unpleasant, what is really misery-making in desperate people.

This softening does begin to dissolve away as we get into Frank Houston and Imogen Docimer's story. It also softens away when we get thoroughly into Tom's inner story. Ultimately Tom and the story of Frank and Imogen are not readily assimilated into the fairy tale nature of the book. To say that Tom needs psychiatric treatment is to make him the Malvolio of the piece, but as the novel moves on this 'deviant' critiques the so-called norms as cruel, dense, inhumane.

We must see the woman who is reading Frank's crass letters, who he is willing to use as a obvious threat to Gertrude, before we can go any further about Imogen.

The letters in this part of the novel are numbered; that means Trollope wants us to pick up ironies having to do with their placement, when they are read and who reads them. In Ayala he is both a conscious artist and a man making an overtly pleasant book which he hopes will sell popularly.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel, Ch 18:

I've just read Ch 18 and am wondering about Trollope's references to Allan-a-Dale and the relevance to Frank Houston. The name is familiar to me from my childhood and somehow I have a feeling there may be a connection to Robin Hood? But I could be wrong there.


Re: Ayala's Angel, Chs 13-18: Frank Houston as Allen-a-Dale

Elizabeth asks about Frank Houston's parody of Allen-a Dale. At the back of the Oxford Classics paperback edition of Ayala's Angel, Julian Thompson tells us it is the song Scott gives Edmund of Winston in Rokeby: "Allen-a Dale, poacher and freebooter, is in search of a wife. The full passage runs:

Allen-a-Dale to his wooing is come;
The mother, she ask'd of his household and home:
"Though the castle of Richmond stand fair on the hill,
"My hall", quoth bold Allen, "shows gallanter still;
"Tis the blue vault of heaven, with its crescent so pale,
And with all its bright spangles!" said Allen-a-Dale.

The father was steel, and the mother was stone;
They lifted the latch and they bade him be gone;
But loud, on the morrow, their wail and their cry:
He had laugh'd on the lass with his bonny black eye,
And she fled to the forest to hear a love tale,
And the youth it was told by was Allen-a-Dale.

As Charley Tudor in The Three Clerks Trollope parodied this romantic gallant hero in a piece supposed to be composed for the Daily Deligh newspaper. Charley Tudor relates the adventures of one Sir Anthony Allen- a-Dale". It's significant that the hero is called Anthony; this are numbers of places in the novels where we find Trollope using his initials (Anton Trendellson in Nina Balatka comes to mind) to suggest some relationship in Trollope's mind with a character.

Frank quotes the lines in one of the remarkable if brief letters scattered and carefully placed (numbered in sequence) in this week's chapters. It is a remarkably crass one: if hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue, Frank sees no need to pay any tribute. He is off to marry for money and makes no attempt even to speak of the girl he is to marry with any respect or affection. The allusion show us his shallow conceit. He is congratulating himself on his likeness to Allen-a-Dale who (he thinks) was so admirable as to demand a girl from her parents; when when they stoutly refused, the girl longed so for his "laughter" she fled away after him.

This is one of those letters which requires that we read it through the eyes of the person intended: it is addressed to Imogen Docimer whom we are told Frank wooed, and who we are given to understand loves him. Because of the name of the person to whom it is addressed, it gets a very different overlay of meaning than the surface text: instead of mere self-congratulatory boasting on how he's now got a "good head of cabbage" (Gertrude -- who, it must be admitted, has not behaved in any way meriting a much better analogy) even if he had to give up his "flower", the letter takes on the aspect of dense cruelty. It's one thing to be thick-skinned in one's mind; it's another to reveal it to someone whom such sentiments will hurt. He opens the letter with a teasing reference to her expected love for him:

"I do not in the least want to be in love with you, -- but I do want to sit near you, an dlisten to you, and look at you, and to know that the whole air around is impregnated by the mysterious odour of your presence" (Oxford Classics Ayala, ed Julian Thompson, Ch 14, pp. 133-134, p. 641, n134).

This moment in the text is a good example of how epistolary writing conveys much meaning by the very nature of the act and situation. In my lecture to the Trollope society I called this Trollope's use of epistolary situations. If Frank had written this letter to anyone else, it would not be cruel; but then he would not write such a sentiment to anyone else. That he can follow it up by referring to the girl whom he is going to take from her parents as "cabbage" suggests that Ayala is calling the wrong young man a lout.

There is something else here: the use of the original text throws a curious light on Trollope's response to it. Somewhere in his writing, he talks of how dull he finds Scott's texts -- really; yet they appeal to the large general audience as romance. Scott's readers accepted such ballads as that above straight: Trollope read them with the robust scorn of the sceptic.

The other allusion to a romantic text in this week's chapters offers another perspective on the workings of Trollope's imagination and why he decided to write this tale of a girl who who dreams of an 'angel of light'. This angel is as complicated a figure as the angel in the house (in this novel, Aunt Dosett). Trollope's earlier reference to a "sallow, sublime, sort of Werther-faced man" could have come either from Don Juan or Thomas Moore's parody of it in The Fudge Family in Paris (I got the second explanation from Victoria too). I don't own nor have I had time to look at Thomas Moore's "The Fudge Family in Paris", but I know that Moore's work often parodied romanticism like Byron's with a robust scorn similar to Trollope's on Scott's poem. But in either case Trollope's memory and use of it shows another kind of irony playing across romance: like Moore, Trollope is bothered by these portrayals of anguish as real, even when done in a half-mocking vein like Byron's. Moore burlesques it, squashes it, mocks it out of court. Trollope takes it a more seriously: he understands that young women really do long for a medium of self-distruction in their "angels". The angel must also have some elements of Jung's animus figure.

For my part, I'd take the "sallow, sublime, sort of Werther-faced man" over this "Allen-a-Dale" any time.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Tue, 30 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Back to the Drawing Board

Clearly, I rolled out my notion of Trollope's central story before it was fully baked. Let me just clarify one point: by 'settling down' I don't mean 'love story.' I mean, for example, the way Archdeacon Grantly is upset by his son's interest in Grace Crawley, and how the meeting with Grace changes his mind. When two people settle down in the world, room must be made for them by their elders. Individuals may fall in love, but it's families and sometimes whole neighborhoods that get married. Paul Montague's troubles with Winifred Hurtle and Roger Carbury (not to mention the railway board) are as much a part of his 'settling down' story as any of his meetings with Hetta.

It might seem that I'm trying to reduce everything in Trollope to one narrative. Not so. But I find that with time he became less and less interested, as a novelist, in strolling far from what I see at his work's center. I don't believe that he regretted 'the young people' for an instant.

RJ Keefe

Re: Ayala's Angel: Silences

In response to RJ, well, he might not have regretted dramatising the 'young couple', especially in some of his earlier conventional English fictions (e.g. Dr Thorne) and his more subversive ones (e.g., The Bertrams), but it is to be noted that his passion in his latter books goes elsewhere: into the older men, into older women, and his stories (especially in the shorter books) begins to marginalise them. He was in the period and by ultra- sensible critics later (like Bradford Booth) criticised for this multiplication of love stories: said Booth (and says Mullen) these are hopeless padding. There are many who have written that Ayala is nothing more than a book strained out, a made book. There is some truth to that. He is drawn to the young man who doesn't make the girl, from his first book to his last. There is also this curious pattern of the older man longing for young ones. If we start to look at his love stories, they do reveal things people have yet to come to terms with -- by which I mean openly discuss.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Art, money and Ayala

Hello all

I've been very much enjoying the art discussion.

As Ellen suggested, it seems a pity that Trollope, who knew the Bohemian lifestyle so well, doesn't allow us to eavesdrop on any actual artistic conversations between Egbert Dormer, the young sculptor Isadore Hamel and the others who would have dropped in at the bijou to admire that blue china. In these early chapters, although there are several flashback passages, we never see the artists talking about specific pieces of work at all. The nearest we get is probably the passage where Hamel remembers how Dormer told him that "to an artist his art should be a matter to him of more importance than all the world besides".

Although there is so little detail, and although conversation in the novel's present tends to focus on money rather than art, I do think the artistic background is very important to the novel.

Ayala and Lucy both built their world view in that "bijou", where their father wore his jewels and velvet and spent all he had on finery and tasteful objets d'art, That is surely why neither girl can really be happy with either the rich but vulgar Tringles or the penny-pinching Dosetts, who save money by failing to subscribe to the library.

I suppose that Ayala is more obviously the sister with the artistic nature (it has already been mentioned that there are similarities with Marianne in Sense and Sensibility). She is the one with the romantic yearning for the "angel of light" (perhaps a figure in one of her father's paintings?). But Lucy also yearns foIdylls of the King - a deeply romantic work about as far removed from Aunt Dosett's world as you could imagine - and also in her attraction towards Hamel, who has the same unworldly quality as her own father. She wants to get back to the bijou rather than living in the dreary world of the Dosetts.

Ellen wrote

And the book does repeatedly delve into art as a solace to existence, the imaginative being available though, only after you can dismiss from your mind, the material. Perhaps that is the crux of the book, where Aunt Dosett's as the supremely impoverished life comes in.

I'd agree that Aunt Dosett is "supremely impoverished", but I also think that she has a certain similarity with the Rev Crawley (even if her family income is about 10 times what he has to live on!) She has the same obsessive determination to live within her means even if it kills her, paring to the bone, serving the cheapest cuts of meat and letting her husband drink gin-and-water rather than considering spending their savings or, heaven forbid, asking the Tringles for a hand-out.

The big difference between her and Crawley (perhaps because, as a woman, she wouldn't have had access to the same education) is that he still treasures the life of the intellect even in his greatest bitterness. He might not be able to feed or clothe Grace and the other children properly, but he still teaches them Latin and reads with them.

Ellen mentioned Austen's Mrs Norris. I found Aunt Dosett reminiscent of her, too - she is like a more sympathetic re-imagining of the same sort of figure. In Mansfield Park, Mrs Norris (an unforgettable character because she is so gloriously and wickedly alive) seems to put down Fanny out of sheer spite and determination to assert herself. By contrast, Aunt Dosett, even though she might seem like a Norris-style dragon, bears first Lucy and then Ayala no ill-will. She is trying to teach them to lower their expectations as she has had to lower her own, and genuinely believes she is being kind by taking away their books and lecturing them about buying cheap cuts of mutton and hemming sheets!

On the housework front, one of the things I love about Trollope is his unsentimental and clear-eyed depiction of the sheer drudgery of cooking and cleaning in Victorian times. He doesn't surround the role of the "angel in the house" with the sort of glamour which both Dickens and Thackeray tend to give her, but fully realises that it means endless hours sewing petticoats. He also recognises that his heroines would prefer to read Tennyson!

Bye for now
Judy Geater

Re: Self-Respect, Money & Aunt Dosett (Was "Art, Money, and Ayala ...)

I enjoyed Judy's posting on Art, Money, and Ayala. I renamed it to focus on a perspective on this novel she suggests in her parallel between the way the Rev Josiah Crawley deals with his marginalisation and potential (and actual in his case) humiliations and the way Aunt Dosett does. I had only been considering Aunt Dosett as a grim depiction of the realities of the lives of angels in the house -- when, of course, they don't have children. One of the things that makes us bring Austen's Mrs Norris and Trollope's Aunt Dosett together is they are both childfree. I use the modern word because had Mrs Norris had children, she would not have had to look for tasks and for people to dominate; had Aunt Dosett had children, she and Uncle Reginald might have had to live in a less respectable house, and if her days would have been so much more hectic and difficult, they would not have been so empty of meaning beyond the grind of making ends meet.

She is a good example of what could happen to women of this class when there was no child to give them something to do and they hadn't the inner resources to create some life out of themselves.

However, I am moving away from Josiah and Margaret. Both seem to be grim puritanical figures to those around them who cannot understand what it is they are desperately holding onto. We see it: the tangible trivia that brings respect from other people. We might say Aunt Dosett keeps her pride clean, endlessly sews it together. She has the option of not having to go outside her door and cope with gaining self-respect and pride outside it. In this sense she is safer. More ambivalently, that less is expected keeps her in her place. She has no opportunity once she has married this particular male at his level of income. The reality that less has been expected of women until recently is something often overlooked in understanding why women seemed to cling to their chattel status.

Then comes into her home these two girls, each one of which is a reproach. And how is she to handle them? Her dilemma is not one which is gone from us today. Something is being asked of her which she's not got & has no way of getting.

When Lady Tringle comes to call at the Dosett's house to invite Ayala to return to live with them, we may think of the cliche about eating humble pie -- though Trollope by no means does justice to the inside writhing such a step would make such a woman feel. Many readers will concentrate on what is to the fore in the scene: Lady Tringle versus Ayala, nd Ayala's exasperation at and fear of Tom. The scene is meant to parallel Uncle Tom versus Ayala. However, there is a difference. Aunt Dosett is allowed to sit there when Lady Tringle comes. I noticed how she got out of her own room when the Big Man arrived. I also noticed how Aunt Dosett's words went for nothing when she stayed.

"'If you ask me ... I think that as Ayala has come to us she had better remain with us. Of course things are very different, and she would be only discontented'. At this Lady Tringle smiled her sweetest smile -- as though acknowledging that things certainly were different -- and then turned to Ayala for a further reply (Folio Society Ayala, intro ATEllis, Ch 13, p. 102).

Lady Tringle need not say, "But nobody is asking you", her silence and turning away says it all for her. Lady Tringle is not ashamed to come into a house she normally never goes to, one she doesn't send Lucy to. She's not ashamed to dismiss this woman before her eyes. Nor is her goodbye particularly courteous. Imagine what a really indepth portrayal of this type of women would be: Mrs Norris is not such a caricature as people suppose.

We couldn't rename the novel "the angel in the house" because of Aunt Dosett's marginalised presence -- she takes up little of the verbal space. But she is important. Later on she comes to be seen as a mean witch-barrier to Ayala, keeping the poor lovely princess caged up with the torn towels. But this is to look at her from the point of view of a single character, Ayala who in this particular instance stands for a spoilt child's inadequate vision. The whole carpet Trollope has spun for us shows us she stands for what Ayala and Lucy don't want to be -- and what Imogen may become if she takes our Allen-a-Dale because his "cabbage-head", i.e., Gertrude is refused him by the novel's Big Brown Bear (Sir Thomas Tringle).

Not that Ayala always stands for a spoilt child. Although written too largely, generally, her dialogues with Tom and Sir Thomas make her speak for a woman's point of view _vis-a-vis_ the patriarchy which we see in other of Trollope's novels when men are pushed on women "for their own good".

Re: Ayala: Money, Power (?), and Thomas Tringle (Was "Self-respect, Money & ...)

On the theme of money and its curious non-relationship with power (at times):

Another very good dialogue is Sir Thomas versus Mr Traffic. If Trollope doesn't give us anything to go on to understand why we are to feel grim about the Tringles and Dosetts and like Jonathan Stubbs, he certainly gives us much about sex, money, and how people can take advantage of one another. One of Trollope's interests in the dominance-submissive patterns of human behavior: Mr Traffic has learnt to short-circuit it. The question is, How does he get away with it? Why?

We are continually told about how Sir Thomas is making millions, just millions and millions. Yet he seems powerless before his family. I answer: he is yet another variant on Trollope's inarticulate males.

This is a book about the power of language: that's what Jonathan Stubbs has got.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel, allegory and realism

I've been thinking some more about the realism, or lack of it, in Trollope's characterisations and about our discussion in the last week about the qualities of allegory or caricature in this book. I mentioned in an earlier post, in response to Ellen's comments about Aunt Dosett, that I knew people with apparently such little imaginative life. Ellen quite rightly noted my intentional use of the qualifier "apparently." But I wonder if we can't also use this word in the same way with respect to a fictional character.

Let me try to explain. Granted, the characters in a novel are, by definition, fictional, and they have no life or reality outside the words that the novelist uses to describe them or puts into their mouths. This is so obvious that it hardly needs stating. This means that the only thing that there is to know about a character is what we are told by the novelist. If the novelist gives us a shallow portrayal, then of course the character is shallow. However, what if we approach the characters and the novel in another way? What if we assume that the characters are real people, and the novelist has chosen to portay them in greater or lesser depth? This means that there may be -- indeed, there are -- things to know about the characters that the author hasn't told us. This idea was brought home to me last evening as my wife and I watched the first episode of The Pallisers on our fresh new set of DVDs. (!) Here were Planty Pal, Lady Glencora, The Duke of Omnium, and others seen from a somewhat different point of view. One could feel that one learned a few things about them that Trollope hadn't told us, yet they were unmistakably the same characters, or should I say the same people.

From this point of view, it makes sense to say that Aunt Doset apparently has no imaginative life. Maybe Trollope hasn't told us everything that's in her mind. Perhaps he doesn't know everything that's in her mind. (Unlike, say, Henry James, who seems to tell us everything that passes through a character's mind. But of course, that isn't possible, either, because one thinks not only in words but in images and feelings. And for all that, I don't find James's characters any more "realistic" than Trollope's, for all the sometimes nearly impenetrable fog of words that surrounds them.)

A caricature, it seems to me, is not merely a flat characterization but one in which certain characteristics are exaggerated, especially if exaggerated beyond the realistic. I don't find Aunt Doset exaggerated or unrealistic at all. As I wrote in an earlier post, I know people who are much more grotesquely obsessive than she is. On the other hand, if we are talking about realism, what about the dialog between Stubbs and Hamel in Chapter 20? Has any human being talked extemporaneously in such consistently well structured paragraphs and sentences? (For that matter, one could say the same thing about some of the dialog in James.)

None of this is intended to contradict Ellen's extended commentaries about the realism, or lack of it, of Trollope's portrayals in Ayala's Angel. Rather I am suggesting a different approach to reading that, I think, also has some validity. No doubt I am too gullible; one aspect of reading fiction that I never have trouble with is the willful suspension of disbelief -- perhaps to a fault. Professors criticised more than one of my college papers for being more "appreciative" than "critical," criticism that never bothered me in the slightest.

Has any of this made sense? If not, perhaps I could have another crack at it. Most of the wording of this post that I thought of while in the shower this morning abandoned me by the time I got to the computer.

Wayne Gisslen

Date: Sat, 3 Feb 2001
Reply-To: Subject: [trollope-l] AA: Allegory and Realism

Wayne, your comments made perfect sense to me. I am another one of the people who is quite able to suspend disbelief in an instant when reading or watching a movie or television. Then of course by disbelief comes out with a vengeance when watching the news. My husband drives me crazy if we are watching a television show together--he picks everything to pieces as not being realistic. Yet, he loves science fiction.

I like Aunt Dosett and think her kindly, more kind than Lady Tringle. As a youngster I can remember a couple of aunts that were rather like her.

And the dialogue between Stubbs and Hamel jarred upon me as I was reading it. It was almost like they weren't really friends but were being formal, though sometimes people that haven't seen each other for a while do tend to be more formal than with daily acquaintances.


Re: Ayala's Angel: Realism and Allegory

I guess I would respond to Wayne that it doesn't have to be either or. That is you can read a book as at once allegorical and realistic. When I said Aunt Dosett was something of a caricature, I didn't mean I didn't believe in the character at some level. I do. I got indignant on her behalf when Lady Tringle snubbed her. It's a subtle shallow modelling.

I'll go further and say that while reading a chapter which has allegorical resonances and characters who are believable enough or very believable, one can at the same time feel yourself in contact with the author. After all the real person in each text is the spirit who wrote the words originally.

One way of reading need not preclude the other, and they can go on at the same time, sort of subliminally. Just as when we sit in our chair we half-forget we are in the chair and think we are seeing these scenes and hearing these voices, while at the same time we never forget that we are sitting in the chair. The mind can hold many possibilities at once, now this one comes to the fore and now that.

There is a fascinating & entertaining book by Umberto Eco called Six Walks in Fictional Woods on this problem of how far we can fill details into a character's life which the author did not give us. What kinds of questions can we ask or objections can we make. I talked about some of his comments in the chapter in my book on Trollope's Autobiography: for example, what is the difference between the character called Trollope in the Autobiography and the character called Mr Harding in The Warden. Literally none at all. However, we as readers take a different attitude towards them because we know Mr Trollope as a character refers to a real man who once lived, and who is writing his book, so if he doesn't tell us things we think we've a right to know, we can complain. We can't complain at Mr Harding for not telling us things. We also know of real people they keep secrets from us. Mr Harding is not going off doing things he's not telling us. All we can ever know or deduce about Mr Harding we have to get from the book: we may deduce a lot, but it has to come from the book. Not so Mr Trollope or a real person.

Eco has a chapter where he brings forward incidents novelists like to play with where they make fun of some of these faultlines. For example, in Emma, Emma Woodhouse paints a picture of Harriet sitting outdoors. Her father comes along and says he doesn't like the picture; it upsets him. Why? Because she hasn't painted a shawl on Harriet and Harriet will catch cold. Emma does not say to him, this is not an appropriate deduction; instead she reassures him by saying, but Papa, don't you see, it's summer in the picture. Harriet doesn't need her shawl.

Austen likes to play games in this manner: in Northanger Abbey, Mrs Allen reads a gothic novel and gets upset because the description of the ruined broken down kitchen in the vast castle disturbs her: she worries about how the servants get through all the work in such inadequate facilities. This is the a variant on the same joke.

There are other novelists in the 18th century who like to play with the reader and yet have real enough characters: Laurence Sterne in Tristram Shandy is one. Modern writers who do this include Italo Calvino. He loves to wink at us through his novels, teasing as he goes. It's the half-belief that permits the real delight in his The Non-Existent Knight.

There are other chapters in Eco's book about how we respond to landscapes in books and art and how this differs from how we respond to when we see them in life. For after all, we are talking endlessly about mental life. Proust (I am just now listening to an unabridged audiocassette recording of Swann's Way in my car) says all we ever really respond to is our perceptions of things. To respond adequately to your post, the question I would offer as food for thought in reply is, Why narrow the possibilities as you read? You are free to make what choices you like, take what perspective, play what games you like with your imaginative in response to someone else's (Trollope's in this case). To me Ayala is a highly playful book, and probably that's why my postings have been about the levels of play in our book. The characters are not allowed to get out of the picture; they are not allowed to get away from the candied frame (in the manner of Mrs Proudie who would not have permitted even a qualified happy ending to The Last Chronicle so she had to be killed off), except maybe at the end Tom. I recommend Eco's book. It's in print. It is no harder to read than John Sutherland's Can Jane Eyre Be Happy? and is ultimately much richer in what it has to say about the pleasures of the imagination.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Sun, 4 Feb 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] allegory and realism

Wayne writes; 'what if we assume that the characters are real people, and the novelist has chosen to portray them in greater or lesser depth? This means that there may be - indeed there are - things to know about the characters that the author hasn't told us.'

If we substitute a play for a novel here, then it is this shadowed side of the character which the actor tries to discover and show to the audience. Every actor will play a set character in a different way, and try to show 'their' interpretation of the role within the words given to them by the author. In the same way, as readers, I imagine that we do tend to interpret Trollope's characters slightly differently. We cannot escape from our own subjective backgrounds, both cultural and social.

As Ellen says we can, and do, read books as both allegorical and realistic, but I wonder if we tend to lean to one side or the other. As an actor (and writer) I tend to search for the character behind the written word, this is my preference, but am always intrigued by others interpretations. Isn't it this different way of looking at Trollope's novels which makes a discussion group so interesting?

Cheers, Teresa Ransom

To Trollope-l

February 8, 2001

Re: Ayala's Angel: Jonathan and Ayala

I'd like to add to my posting of the other day that to recognize Trollope himself in the portrait of Jonathan Stubbs and Ayala as a displacement of Kate Fields lends the book a level of poignancy and unresolved conflicts which deepen it. Take Stalham which we are supposed to admire so, or think so very pleasurable, a kind of pleasure the narrator suggests is not available to the Tringles since they are "nouveau riche", not really aristocratic- comfortable with themselves. Well, Stubbs's cottage is imagined in stark contrast to Stalham -- and in stark contrast to the Dosett home. The inference: there is a third choice; it's not either/or. Stubb is clearly idyllically content on his mountain: again a stark contrast, this time to Sir Thomas who emerges from the narrative suddenly to meet Hamel as he climbs away from Stubb's cottage. Why does Sir Thomas emerge at this point: he's on Trollope's mind. We are told he is only really happy in Lombard Street. Merle Park, Queen's Gate, Glenbogie itself don't make the cut for him. He's an alter ego in the scheme of Trollope's deeper imaginings to Jonathan Stubbs.

To see Ayala in this light is also to make sense of the book in terms of Trollope's oeuvre. Ayala is endlessly called an anomaly; something that doesn't fit. Not so. It is linked to what we see in An Old Man's Love, Mr Whittlestaff's Mary Lawson turned into something our narrator can have with no Mrs Bagget in sight; the obverse side of a mirror which gives us Mr and Mrs Neverbend. An Old Man's Love and The Fixed Period are Trollope responding to what is: in the first place with grief, in the second with savage irony. Ayala is his dream-idyll whose full implications (erotic needs) he has not been able to face in life but can work out through his dream work imagination. I wonder (though can't know) if Geary knew the photograph of Kate Fields that appears in C. P Snow's biography for his illustrations provide a young girl closely similar, even to the dark ringlets. This week's illustrations show us Stubbs hunting: a big looking man, reminiscent of Trollope as he describes himself and appears in caricatures of himself hunting.

For me on this level this book becomes alive, mature, is given explanatory purchase. The sneering is a form of keeping at bay, justifying to himself his own sublimations, compromises. People have not sufficiently gotten underneath the carapace of a portrait Trollope made of himself in An Autobiography -- in order of course to fend off others.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

By the way, I agree that Ayala's Angel is a good example of a novel centered round a single female character. It is one of my favourites, simply because of its ruthless deconstruction of romantic love. It reminds me of the way that Chaucer satirises the conventions of courtly love in some of the Canterbury Tales. It's another example of a girl feeling pressured by her friends, as well--the pressure to accept the suitable partner. The way that Trollope runs the real love story parallel to the "social" one is very witty.


Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001
Reply-To: Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel: Ayala as Kate Field

Thank you Ellen for a very interesting interpretation of Ayala's Angel.

I had not been bringing to mind those rather awful Trollope photographs where he does look particularly bristly but now that you mention it, there could well be a connection with Stubbs.

My partner has two pictures of Kate Field on his website, which you can find, if you wish, by going to

selecting Wilkie Collins from the menu, going to menu once there and then selecting letters. There are two letters to Kate Field with two different pictures of her attached. She is quite wonderful.

I think Collins met her at a dinner at the Trollope's.


From Angela

Re: Victorian against Hunting

To return to modern views of the fox hunting sections of Trollope's novels, I'd just like to bring forward evidence that fellow Victorians also shared modern views against hunting and shooting.

The Victorian writer and naturalist Richard Jefferies was just such an advocate, who wrote of his preference to put down the gun and just admire the beautiful bird. In the 1870s, protest against battue shooting was a feature of the 19th century journals. This is where massive stocks of game birds are bred and become almost tame they are so well fed, and are then driven to a position where a group of sportsmen can get easy shots. The sheer numbers slaughtered appalled Victorians. In Hardy's novel, Tess wrings the necks of the wounded birds, left to die by bad shots.

Trollope gives us the other side of the hunt in the American Senator where tenant farmers object to protected birds eating their crops and hunters tearing up their land. He puts the contrary view forward in such a way that we know he has no time for it, but this was just his view. Tenant farmers and their advocates were also writing in the newspapers and journals, particularly at the time of the agricultural depression when opinion moved in their favour away from the landed interest in hunting and shooting. Bear in mind too that throughout this period, tenant farmers were becoming enfranchised, culminating in male labourers getting the vote in 1883. So their views were gaining weight from their increased political power.


Date: Thu, 08 Feb 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] Victorian against hunting

A brief addendum to Angela's point that fox-hunting in Trollope's day had begun to be controversial in England -- it clearly carried strong class connotations in Ireland according to Trollope's The Landleaguers. Trollope himself wrote a couple of strong pieces in defense of fox-hunting; he would not have bothered or been so strong had he not felt the "sport" vulnerable to criticism and possibly eventually at risk..

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

September 3, 1999

From: "Catherine Crean" I am in the midst of chapter 14 in AA and have come upon Frank Houston's three letters. Trollope even labels the letters "Letter No. 1" "Letter No. 2" and "Letter No. 3." What gamesmanship! In letter #1, the poor artist writes a letter accepting an invitation to hunt grouse in Gertude Tringle's Scottish country home. The letter is addressed to Lady Tringle, Gertrude's mother. Letter #2 is written to Gertrude, and letter #3 is written to Frank's cousin Imogen (Cousin Im) with whom he is really in love. Ellen, what do you make of this passage? In commenting about Ayala's Angel I had forgotten about the Cousin Imogen subplot. I now recall that this subplot baffled me. Don't Frank and Imogen do have a scene together next to some rushing water in the Tyrol, or am I getting confused with Can You Forgive Her? Well, Trollopians know what scenes near rushing water mean. Rushing water is as emblemic in Trollope as Tudor windows are.

September 4, 1999

Re: Numbered Letters in Ayala's Angel and The American Senator

In response to Catherine:

I have discovered that in a number of his novels Trollope names a chapter the So-and-so correspondence, and gets the best of both worlds: omniscient and epistolary narration, interior monologue and satiric exposure, mirroring of the heart and commentary thereon. Through these kinds of chapters Trollope tells his story through letters which offer all kinds of information like a picture does: implicitly, explicitly, and psychologically. They are also often ironic in context. At the same time the narrator talks away and we get dramatic scenes which shape and guide the reader's response. Sometimes Trollope also provides us with a character who is reading the letter, sometimes to another character, so we get to share their responses and active responses (sometimes in the form of more letters, sometimes in the form of acts) too.

There are a few cases where he goes so far as to number these correspondences. One we saw in The American Senator: the Rufford Correspondence. The reason Trollope numbers the letters of Rufford and Arabella before they meet at Mistletoe is these letters are not written as the direct outpourings of the writers' hearts, but rather in response to a previous epistle. After the first unwary one, they are calculated and wary responses to one another. In other words it matters what order these letters were written in.

First we get Rufford, and his is careless and spontaneous, not to say mindless: he writes to complain he is stuck in a house where the Master of the Hunt, Caneback, has died. What a nuisance the funeral is. She ought to feel sorry for him. Arabella Trefoil tries to use his words to further along a half-plan he and she had that they would meet to hunt together in another house. Rufford then answers, now wary. It seems he might not show at said house. Arabella replies if he doesn't show, she shall just about commit suicide because since seeing him at Rufford Hall she has worked so hard to get an invitation; she has altered all her plans. This male fish seems half-caught because Rufford writes back he will certainly be at Mistletoe. He will not disappoint Arabella.

Then in the next chapter we are told there was another correspondence going on at the same time. People who just read the book will remember that Arabella was engaged to John Morton; at just the time of Rufford's first letter (No. 1), John Morton wrote Arabella a serious, long deeply affectionate letter in which he asked her if it was her intention to become his wife or not. Now she doesn't reply to this because she has just received Rufford's first. She is waiting to see how Rufford responds to hers to him (No 2); after he writes so warily (No 3), she is careful not to break with Morton. Then Morton writes again and she must answer, only she now has only had the letter in which Rufford tries to weasle out of meeting her. In other words the two sets of letters are intertwined and the responses of the second set are the result of the responses of the first.

Why not arrange them as they would be in an epistolary novel?

I dunno. I think because they are more fun to read with the narrator intervening. It's more suspenseful this way. We get two different views of each set of letters. Trollope is getting an enormous amount of mileage out of each word. He numbers them so we can follow him.

The letters themselves enable the characters to escape from Trollope's view: Arabella's later letter to Rufford after he flees Mistletoe, which she calls playful is pathetic in ways she and the narrator seem to be unaware of. 'Your going off like that was, after all, very horrid. My aunt thinks that you were running away from me ... I don't for a moment think that ... I know you don't like being bound by any of the conventionalities ... I am so stiff ... everybody cross ... nasty, hard, unpleasant people'. Her second letter demands that Rufford acknowledge an engagement, but the one that counts for the reader is the first. There we see the difference between how people who have lots of money can behave, and who those who are desperate to live minimally respectably have to behave.

The numbered letters in Ayala's Angel are also pieces of posing. Frank Houston to Emmeline, Lady Tringle, is a calculated posing. Right before it the narrator enables us to enter Frank's mind and this shows how Frank cares nothing for Gertrude Tringle. (We never enter Rufford's mind, but then he doesn't sit around considering things.) The second one of Frank to Gertrude seemed to me filled with cliched cant of loverly language.

The third one is best of all. There Frank writes to Imogen Docimer and unwittingly reveals how much he loves Imogen. The irony here is he affects to despise the Tringles for their materialism, for their shallowness, and what is he? He indicts himself. He alludes to Sir Walter Scott's poem Allan-a-dale and boasts of making Gertrude fall in love with him. Gertrude prefers the blue vault of heaven with him to the bright spangles offered her by her parents' money; they wail and cry; Gertrude has fled to the forest to hear his love cry.

The whole thing is in such bad taste: here he's writing to Imogen, a girl who loves him, and whom he has affection for; he preens over the parents whose daughter he has persuaded to prefer him for the great poetical vibes he supposedly emits; and he affects to despise them. One result is that Gertrude emerges as more than something of an ass too. One could infer that were she to marry Frank, they deserve one another. Whether Sir Thomas should be wasting his money this way is another question.

I thought perhaps the reason for numbering them was that the order counted. It's true that this set of letters is not followed by another intertwinted set. However, it is followed (somewhat later) by one from Frank to Imogen describing his time in Scotland with the Tringles. In this letter he again exposes himself unwittingly far more than Arabella Trefoil ever does.

Whatever you may think of Arabella Trefoil, she has a dense presence; she really means what she tells Rufford when she says she has worked so hard to wrest an invitation from dense unsympathetic people. Hunting is an exhausting challenge for her. Everything she does and feel she does with a terrific intensity. Not so Frank. Or at least not apparently so.

Did you notice that a good deal of the Frank Houston-Imogen Docimer plot is told through letters. It proves that letters need not force a novelist to be prolix. In fact you can swiftly offer a tiny novel (the story of Frank and Imogen) within a bigger novel (the stories of Ayala and Lucy) -- if you are Anthony Trollope.


October 4, 1999

Re: Ayala's Angel: No Joking Matter

In Colonel Stubbs Trollope shows us he has a good grasp on what charms most women in a man. At least I think so. His sudden quiet turning to Ayala on the train, and talking frankly, easily to her in downright realistic complaining tones which are so confidential, the sweetness of his smiles, his gentleness are all perfect. Sometimes I think to myself Trollope must have known some of the Italian poetry called Stilnovisti: there what we find are these gentle quietly laughing lovers. A gentle heart has Stubbs.

I still grow very irritated with the book from time to time. There is reality of a sort here. In Ayala Trollope has probably caught a certain type of young female who may yet exist. I think I glimpsed them in the upper class girls I saw in Leeds University, the ones 'up' for the first year, around 18, away from home the first time. They would speak in high voices of 'Mummy' and 'Daddy' and giggle. They seemed still to think that their parents knew what they were doing and thinking and moved about in terms of some preconceptions of the world which were all-sheltering and all-constricting. The tones of Nina's letters strike me as just like them. She really believes the world exists to play lawn tennis in, and is a happy gay stable place for Lord George's to command Ninas in. Ayala is afraid of sex. Catherine is right there: her 'I cannot' to Stubbs can only be explained this way: Trollope includes innuendoes which seem to me to point to this as the explanation. A flesh and blood man is frightening to her.

Nonetheless, I have a hard time understanding why I should care about this girl particularly. She seems so privileged -- even if she's an orphan. The Dosetts aren't really going to throw her out. I have read so much about England in the 19th century that shows how a majority of people lived in abysmal poverty, hardship, and there was so much to talk about and teach for real that Trollope should spend hundreds of pages on the fate of this curled darling and the world of the idle rich is dismaying. I shall be glad to read Hardy -- I like the look of the photograph of the real girl by Julia Cameron on the Penguin edition of A Pair of Blue Eyes.

It's not that I can't identify at all. Trollope shows an accurate knowledge of teenage girls, here in America, especially around the ages of 15-16. They often have naive dreams and act perversely to harm themselves. Sometimes knowingly. And they act these ways sometimes and make decisions that may ruin their existence for years and years. Such as a foolish marriage based on nonsensical ideas of romance. Sometimes as I read I am reminded of perverse ideas or behavior I had when I was young. But then is this matter for humour? Is it a matter of teaching some kitten a lesson? Trollope's private letters suggest to me he really thought his niece was not much more mature when it comes to the complicated thing reality is than a five year old. Maybe. But the five year old can choose to marry. And she's not going to learn anything from a book. Ayala's near throwing away of what could give her happiness, Gertrude's running away with an ass don't strike me as matters for joking.

If I am to take the topic as serious, I would prefer a serious treatment -- one such as we partly find in Imogen Docimer. There, however, Trollope gives us a girl who is sexually aware and not perverse. She is not making a decision stupidly or unaware of her own impulses. To Victorians Shakespeare's Imogen was the most romantic and interesting of Shakespeare's good heroines partly because she was so loyal, strong -- and married. As I said that she loves Frank knowing him to be so callow and says it, and clings to him because it's better with him than without is well done in the context of her life and psyche as presented to us. There's no joking here.

And the middle aged women are in general insufferable. So self-satisfied -- except for Mrs Dosett who is living a miserable existence. There are hints that Lady Aylsbury is bored silly by Sir Harry and were she less chaste would be having an affair with Jonathan. (Imagine her switched to Is He Popenjoy?) Emmeline, Lady Tringle is a priceless hypocrite, in some ways a Mrs Bennet given full roundness in her concern for her imbecilic children. Sir Thomas knows he has brought up silly sheep.

Still, the book also conforms to the strange Victorian presentation of women whereby one day they are unmarried and therefore all innocence and in love or not in love, and then the next day married and suddenly competent, knowing, and dismissal of mere sexual love. I much prefer the females of La Vendée: there is a scene between wife and husband which shows them sexually kissing and in love; the girls are not twits or brats one day and smug matrons the next.

Of course he means us to dislike Lady Rufford. Trollope is carrying over characters from An American Senator and Rufford has certainly gotten the woman he deserved.

Tom would be an interesting portrait of a young man totally without self-esteem, someone near a nervous breakdown, neurotic if he would given an adequate objective correlative for his strong feelings. It's like Hamlet without the dead father. I am to believe his state of mind comes solely from wanting this girl? Throughout this book I feel Trollope is hampered by the middle class plot of young innocent girl loved by boy; obstacles, obstacles overcome. Everything must be presented in terms of this trite paradigm. I think back to Lucius Mason with his serious troubles, and again see Trollope as unable or unwilling to go further into developing some story which will carry this character adequately. Tom would not be such an ass if his misery were presented in terms of real humiliations and inadequacies that counted -- meaning threatened his self-respect from the point of view of his well-being, status, nice clean soft bed.

Ellen Moody

Dear Ellen and All,

Ayala was the first Trollope I ever read and I absolutely loved it. It was, for the most part, light and airy. I loved the humor and the irony. The emotions felt real. If I had to choose one word to describe it that word would be Charming. I couldn't put it down and read it quickly which is why I haven't said much during the discussion.


Subject: [trollope-l] Ayala's Angel

From: "Robert J Wright"

I had lunch with John Letts today at the Reform Club. He said he was enjoying the contributions to the list aboutAyala's Angel, but being "technologically challenged" had to wait for his daughter to print a digest of the list, by which time it was too late to make a contribution.

There are two points he would have made about this book.

One is that it is a particularly humorous book. The other is that it reveals more about the attitude of the well off to the poor and servants, and the attitude of the poor and servants towards the rich than any other Trollope novel.

I may have paraphrased his words wrongly (and was listening to him over a bottle of fine St Emilion 1994 Grand Cru, which tends to make speech blurry after a while I find) but that was the gist of what he said.

Robert Wright
Kensington, London

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