Told In Strong Scenes, Meditations and Letters; An Epistolary Chapter; Amelia and Angela; The Mayor of Casterbridge and Hardy's Art in the light of Trollope's; The Group Meeting in November as Described and Remembered by Some of Those who Met: Our Adventures; Sutherland on Hardy

I wrote the following just before leaving for London to give my lecture, "Partly Told in Letters: Trollope's Story-telling Art" to the Trollope Society. The week following a number of the active participants on Trollope-l were in London with me; as a consequence the online conversation about Dr Thorne ceased or became very intermittent. I thought the interested reader might like to read what was said by us all about this lecture, our meetings with one another and the time in London so have placed them directly following what I, Angela, and Dagny managed to write at the beginning of the week. The reader is also reminded that a group of us were also reading Thomas Hardy's Mayor of Casterbridge, The Return of the Native, and/or Jude the Obscure. Since we were coming to the end of that read and had both books in mind as we read, I have included some of the "final" remarks by members of the list on Thomas Hardy's Master of Casterbridge and Jude the Obscure as we tended to read Hardy in the light of Trollope.

To Trollope-l

November 21, 1999

Re: Dr Thorne, Chs 36-39: Told In Strong Scenes, Meditations and Letters

This week's chapters brings us a series of effective chapters. The story of Sir Louis's decline and Dr Thorne's embarrassment, irritation, and pity for him continues. There are many lines which let us know one of the reasons Sir Louis drinks is he is an outcast with nothing to do, nothing in him to give him resources, without any task given him by his society because there is no need for him to work. In London, he is depressed, surrounded by people who exploit and despise him in that indifferent sort of way people have; it's tit-for-tat there. That's called enjoyment. In Barsetshire, he is equally depressed, this time out of vanity, as he's no one and nothing, again (basically) exploited and despised, with the difference being those who have taken his money are willing to keep on courteous terms with him out of a sense of self-respect. Of course after he has forced on them the necessity of having him in their drawing-rooms -- and it is Mr Gazebee who has seen that this is the accommodating thing to do in the circumstances. Dr Thorne is given a few humane comments to make to the young man; he helps him because 1) he promised his old friend, Sir Rogert, and 2) humanity, he's stuck. There's that curious paragraph where he suddenly says, how much pain this Scatcherd family has given him -- until of course he looks at Mary.

The strength of Dr Thorne's presence and values are again felt throughout these chapters even though he doesn't appear in the chapter on letters or Frank's encounter with his father. If I were to signal out Dr Thorne from Trollope's other books it would be for tight intertwined organisation of several sets of characters and places (which it does share with books like The Claverings) and almost uniquely by this strong sense of a single presence whose values permeate the book. When Dr Thorne is not on stage, Mary is through Frank, and therefore Dr Thorne is there.

The chapters are rich in diurnal details of life -- which are so essential to the quality and feel of this book. We are told that when the doctor comes in from his rounds of work, and says 'What a broiling day', Mary has many 'summer drinks' to offer him: 'In his house, lemonade, currant-juice, orange-mixtures, and raspberry-vinegar were used by the quart' (Penguin Dr Thorne, introd RRendell, Ch 36, pp. 427-28).

One of the problems with two of the three novels I have read thus far by Hardy (The Return of the Native and The Mayor of Casterbridge) is he doesn't get close enough to his characters. The reason so much happens is he has to fill his text with something. Of the three, Jude along is a text where we get close up to the characters, feel ourselves inside their sensibility looking out at the world for long periods of time. We have such a chapter with Mary Thorne as she sits at her window waiting. 'Will He Come Again' is beautifully achieved: not sentimental (meaning more emotional than reality is, and therefore an avoidance of the hardness of things), yet deeply romantic in its swerve towards intense wish fulfillment. Mary says to herself, he'll never come; tells herself she should not wish him to come, finds she does anywhere, and there he is (Ch 36, pp. 423-25). This chapter ought to be compared to a similar scene in Ayala's Angel where Colonel Stubbs suddenly presents himself before the longing Ayala. This earlier one is fresher; the dialogue longer and more serendipitious, each detail of the bodies felt along the lines; Frank's insistence, Mary's yielding, the nervous discussion on her part, the teasing on his -- he's heir, he knows who he is, and this self-esteem of all those around him which never for a moment falters is his big prize in life's lottery. The later book is done in more typified, generalised fashion, with comments that reach out to us in a sharper satiric patterned fashioned.

Then the wonderful chapter, 'De Courcy Precepts and De Courcy Practice', which are apparently two very different things . . The ruthless Lady Amelia De Courcy intimidates her gullible cousin, Miss Augusta Gresham, out of a man who Lady Amelia knows is "good husband material", and then takes him for herself. The distance between what is said and what is done provides the commentary on what is said. That is in the two letters which with no irony whatsoever put before the justifications for caste arrogance which are alas probably still with us, though couched in other language. Now we talk of how important ambition and competition are to climb up; then they talked of how important it was not to let anyone climb up through you on the ladder; it would be to equalise and of course bring yourself down. Augusta seems not to have much capacity for love -- though she has more than Lady Amelia. These values mean more to her self-image, and that self-image more than any human contact with a man. The trick here is Trollope allows neither woman to bring up how despised an old maid was in the period, how vulnerable, and therefore always amongst the lowest on her branch, no matter where her branch on the tree may be. It is a tour de force and brings together before our eyes explicitly some of the stances of the books towards class about which Trollope is himself contradictory and ambivalent.

He seems to have enjoyed writing such chapters. He likes to impersonate through letters. It gives him a kick to feel this power. We get very close up to the characters. He also enjoy putting before the readers the worst kinds of characters, and saying, see, here's the world is made of. It is a kind of aggression aimed at the reader. I think this aspect of Trollope's art is not mentioned enough -- if at all in the criticism and scholarship.

Trollope has juxtaposed the chapter on the world's precepts about blood and an individual's practice (money trumps all, and for Lady Mary, add marriage). Frank is confronted with Mary's lack of status; he doesn't himself argue that it is a matter of indifference to him. The squire says we have to care what the world think for we can't escape it. But for Frank, unlike the gull Augusta, there is something more important: himself, his inner private life, his nature for real and that of Mary.

PS: I did read Ruth Rendell's introduction to this novel. It's filled with condescension and some cant. Nina Balatka is unreadable -- does that mean she hasn't read it? The Bertrams is unmemorable -- does that mean she doesn't remember it? Some other of her remarks show me she hasn't read much Trollope nor thought about his books very much. Her remarks on Hardy and George Eliot are cant phrases about beauty of description, and how Eliot gives us 'a pre-Freudian intense examination of human motive'. She also tells us how Trollope's dialogue really reflects the way people spoke then; apparnelty they never had a word too many or too few (p. xxii). She ought to have read what Trollope says about achieving naturalistic dialogue in a novel as opposed to real talk in the world. She does make some good remarks on Dr Thorne, she is aware of the paradox that Trollope appears not to have liked this book as much as some of his others, of the book's richness, and its strength in it endless continual strong scenes between the characters. She has also read A. O. J. Cockshut and her comments on characters like Miss Dunstable and the contrived happy ending of the book has gained much from his exegesis.

Cheers to all, Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

December 2, 1999

Re: Dr Thorne: An Epistolary Chapter

First, in Chapter 38 Trollope means us to feel Augusta has been gulled out of a man she could have been happy with by a cold hypcrite. There is pity for Augusta. Just after Augusta's hopeful letter, he tells us Augusta had 'prayed very hard for her husband, but she had prayed to a bosom that on this subject was hard as flint'. We are then told that Lady Amelia would not permit Augusta to marry because she is 34 and an old maid herself (Penguin Dr Thorne, introd. RRendell, Ch 38, p. 443). Then a letter follows filled with precepts about class and rank and blood, one which drips with arrogant condescension towards Augusta which suggests Augusta will be degraded. This is demonstrably utterly false: Trollope has the narrator jump forward to show us Lady Amelia's practice -- she cagily marrries the man herself because a married woman will always have more power and respect than an old maid with no dowry. That she doesn't invite Augusta to the wedding suggests she knows just how treacherous her conduct towards Augusta has been. The whole set up of the letters, one begging, as sweet with hope as someone like Augusta could be, the next mean and hypocritical, and the third dismayed, and hurt is rhetorically on the side of Augusta and nature. Augusta wants to follow her instinct towards love, marriage, children, kindness and friendship. The set up is against false overvaluation of class, rank, and blood.

So the letter chapter becomes an instance or embodiment of the conscious conflicts of the book: natural emotions v class and rank and blood; the reality that money is what counts, money the thing that weighs in the characters' decisions.

There is a certain animus against Augusta. After all, she has made Lady Amelia her God. We are told that she can accept losing Gazebee because although if any man would have been acceptable to her, Gazebee was it, Augusta is not that much in love with him. She is in love with him insofar as she is capable of loving anyone more than her image of herself. She likes him because he maintains his distance, is cool, respectful. We can see that he is calculating and wants to marry her for her rank, and takes Lady Amelia as a good substitute. There is no real passion or individual depths in this man: he sells himself (his house, his income) for the high ranking wife. And he is just what Augusta could have been happy with. Had Augusta had some agon, real passion, been less of a gull on behalf of rank and blood, Trollope would have made us very sorry for her. But then she would not have listened to Lady Amelia, not have written Lady Amelia for advice in the first place. Her fate is the result of her character, not something imposed; her character is what her society has evolved out of the very thin materials that make up her mind and body. I suppose the irony is that she's bloodless and has lost her one chance at mild happiness (what she is capable of) on behalf of blood. The next chapter in which Frank is so dismayed over his lack of ability to marry Mary is called 'What the world says about blood'. This chapter shows us what the world really does. Smart people ignore it when it is to their interest. Augusta is a fool.

Another irony comes from the reality that Augusta's mild happiness would have been the pretty things in the pretty house with pretty meals. She observes that Lady Amelia refuses to spend the money that Gazebee honestly makes to have these things, and thinks what a nice place and life the two people could have had 'had not Lady Amelia Gazebee been so very economica' (p. 452). Trollope leaves us to draw some conclusions here, and each reader may infer differently. For myself I see Lady Amelia as utterly selfish and grasping; she won't spend for that would be to give of herself to others or society. Her happiness was apparently simply in marrying and owning the house, having the label wife. Perhaps also she was intensely relieved to get away from De Courcy castle which despite its wonderful high ceremony and rank was a miserable place filled with callow driven people who continually think of money. In The Small House at Allington we see just how brutal and grasping Earl de Courcy is when Adolphus Crosbie marries the Lady Alexandrina.

This is a remarkable chapter, and nowhere more remarkable than in the language in the letters by which Trollope impersonates these two complicated presences and shows us them coming at loggerheads to one another through spilling what souls and lies they have in them on paper. I like the comment at its opening: Trollope says epistolary narrative 'is very expressive ... & enables the author to tell his story, or some portion of his sotry, with more natural trust than any other' (p. 438). We trust it because we hear the characters, feel them, get up close. It is a slow way because it moves by the pendulum of the heart's movements. Perhaps Trollope wants us to remember these two letters when we read Mary's to Frank (Ch 42, pp. 494-96) in this week's chapters.

An interesting analogy for epistolary narrative is the drama. To read letters in a novel which they are dialoguing with one another is to feel you are on some stage with two voices. Each letter becomes like a speech in a play. The epistolary way is highly dramatic, only the drama is inward.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Dr Thorne: Amelia and Augusta

From: "Angela Richardson"

I wonder how people feel about the section of letters between Amelia and Augusta about Mr Gazebee. Amelia's first letter is very human and revealing and puts you on her side, but at the end of the chapter Trollope lets her be defeated when Augusta pairs off with him.

Are we meant to feel that Gazebee is not worth having even though Amelia clearly is fond of him? In other scenes he is a useful man and worth having on your side.

Angela, foolishly rather sorry for Amelia

From: Dagny

Angela, I believe you got the two names Amelia and Augusta switched.

I felt very sorry for Augusta. She seemed to really like Mr. Gazebee. I was furious when he ended up with Amelia. The only reason he wasn't with Augusta was because of Amelia's letter to Augusta putting him down and thereby making Augusta feel he wasn't good enough for her. Ha, and then he ended up with a de Courcy. I couldn't help wondering in my heart if Amelia wrote to Augusta in the vein she used to put Augusta off of Gazebee because she, Amelia, wanted him for herself. Very wicked and spiteful, if so.


On the same day, Duffy Pratt wrote:

Subject: Re: [trollope-l] The Mayor: Close of the Story

From: "Duffy Pratt"

I liked Mayor of Casterbridge very much. It's more compact than I remembered it as being, and the Henchard character is much stronger than I took him to be when I was younger.

Here's an observation I haven't seen anyone hit upon yet: There are two pairs of characters in the book -- Henchard and Lucetta; and Elizabeth Jane and Farfrae.

I think Henchard and Lucetta are two of a kind. They both have sins in their past which they would rather not have revealed. They are both capable of developing fond, sudden attachments -- Henchard for Farfrae, Lucetta for Elizabeth. They both have meteoric rises in the world which allow them to adopt a character somewhat foreign to their past ways of existing. Most important, they both are capable of great deception to protect their immediate interest. Henchard lies to Newsome to try to keep EJ for himself; Lucetta hides her affair with Henchard from Farfrae.

Farfrae and Elizabeth Jane are similar mostly in their very conventional natures. Farfrae is capable of unthinking cruelty in taking over, as a matter of course, all of the lineaments of Henchards life. Elizabeth Jane uses her conventional thinking to oppose Lucetta's idea of marrying Farfrae, without seeming to realize how convenient it is that her conventional ideas happen to coincide with her self interest. Neither of them ever seem to rise above the conventional views of the world. Its probably no accident then, that the world blithely accepts them, and their pairing at the end seems right.

But all the while, I feel like Henchard and Lucetta are the more admirable characters. They hurt more deeply, but largely because they also seem to have had a deeper capacity for feeling. In some ways, the book reminds me of Wuthering Heights -- Henchard and Lucetta are strong characters, forces of nature, who don't have a real place in this world, like Heathcliff and Catherine. Farfrae and Elizabeth Jane are tempered and conventional, they can get by in a dull way, like the next generation in Wuthering Heights. Of course, its been a very long time since I read WH, so I may be way off base.


Subject: Re: [trollope-l] The Mayor: Close of the Story

From: Yelrom

Duffy, I agree with what you say about these sets of characters. Another point, to state the obvious, is that Henchard and Lucetta don’t survive and that Farfrae and Elizabeth do. There are other curious details that we might try to explain as well. I believe it was you who pointed out that the female characters all went by names different from those they were born with. I wonder if there is a hint of “Lucifer” in “Lucetta.” With respect to Lucetta, I am also interested in the French connection. Her real surname is French, and she comes from the isle of Jersey, which, we are told, is split in two with a French district and an English. I have an idea Hardy was trying to suggest something with these facts but I’m not sure what. I also think it’s interesting that all of the main characters enter Casterbridge as if it were a stage. Some enter from one direction and others from another. Farfrae is from Scotland, Lucetta from Jersey, Henchard from…somewhere else. (It would be interesting to read Henchard’s story covering the period before the action of The Mayor starts: where he was from, what his childhood was like, who his parents were, etc.). No one besides the minor characters (also with funny names) is from Casterbridge. Other thoughts on names: Henchard recalls “hench” as in “henchmen,” which has political and perhaps brutal overtones. It also recalls “shard,” as in a shard of glass. Elizabeth-Jane is very English sounding, to my ears. Farfrae is somewhat exotic, isn’t it, with “far” and that “ae” ending? Regarding Elizabeth-Jane, her self-education, which she undertakes with her voluminous reading, made me think of Hardy himself, who, I believe I read somewhere, educated himself in a similar manner, lacking a university education.

From: "Angela Richardson"

I've enjoyed the thoughts people have shared about the Mayor and its structure. I've been interested in the role of the local characters, particularly as Greek chorus. The death of Susan is a good example, where the onlookers express sympathy for the dead woman now that everyone can look at her linens and disregard her individual ways of keeping her house and her things.


Subject: Re: [trollope-l] The Mayor: A Critical Study

From: Yelrom

In a critical study of The Mayor by Roger Ebbatson (_The Mayor of Casterbridge_ -- Penguin Critical Studies) that I have started reading, the author discusses the novel as tragedy and summarizes the thesis of a scholar who viewed The Mayor as analogous to Oedipus Rex. In the course of this discussion he states, “…Henchard’s moral limitations are not unique; on the contrary, they are mirrored and parodied in the attitude of the rustic chorus who ‘find the value of a man to be what he’s worth financially,’ an attitude bizarrely embodied by Christopher Coney’s action in digging up the ounce pennies used to close the dead Susan Henchard’s eyes.” (This scholar sees Henchard as an aggressive economic competitor, subordinating instinctive feeling “to the cash nexus”: buying Susan back, trying to settle with Lucetta by sending money, granting Elizabeth-Jane an annuity, etc.)


There then intervened the lecture, the meeting of a number of the members and a series of posting to Trollope-l about this:

Subject: [trollope-l] Ellen on the Epistolary Trollope

From: "Howard Merkin"

List members in North America will not be surprised to hear that Ellen's talk on the epistolary Trollope was received at the Trollope Society AGM yesterday with great acclaim and appreciation. I shall not attempt to summarise it, since I am sure that Ellen will post it partly or wholly on her web site when she gets home, and it will in any event be available in the issue of Trollopiana which gives details of the AGM.

The majority of people at the meeting were not involved in the internet, and had frankly never heard of Ellen before. Nevertheless they followed with fascination her outline of the three ways in which Trollope used letters in his novels, and were most impressed with her erudition and clarity of thought. I also greatly enjoyed the opportunity of meeting her and having a few brief words after the meeting.


Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Ellen on the Epistolary Trollope


I second Howard Merkins comments on Ellen's talk. It was a most interesting evening and the talk was packed with fascinating insights on Trollope and his letters. I also very much enjoyed meeting up with some of the names on the list, and I wish I had been able to meet more. It is so unexpected when you come face to face with someone who has become familiar through the modern equivalent of letters, and yet have only known them until then through their thoughts and opinions. It takes away the external stereotyping of people. Very interesting. I wonder if others there found the same? It was a great evening and I can't wait to read Ellen's book. Teresa Ransom

Subject: Re: [trollope-l] Ellen on the Epistolary Trollope


Thank you Howard-I'd like to hear more about it. I have been in previous years (alack- could not get away so close to Thanksgiving). Were there many questions? Did you meet fellow List members? Were there a good number of Americans?

Etc. Etc.


From: "Angela Richardson"

I was at the London Trollope Society's AGM (with my two wonderful house guests Catherine Crean and Joan Wall) and was able to hear Ellen's talk on the subject of the letters in Trollope's novels. It was a great tour de force which revealed her depth of knowledge and penetrating insights, ranging over all of Trollope's novels. Question time was like an encore revealing even more facts and information.

It was so lovely to meet people from the Trollope list, to have two actually living with me, to meet others at the AGM and finally to go in a party together to Barsetshire. The tour guide in the Cathedral found herself with the most erudite group of Americans she'd ever met and I'll never forget the group of scholarly heads bent over the Magna Carta, trying to establish exactly what language it was written in. (The guide was thoroughly proved wrong).

Thank you all so much for coming over. Angela

From: "Joan F. Wall" What a glorious week! To get to meet so many of my fellow listmembers; and of course to actually stay at the home of one of them, Angela, with another, Catherine; to see so much of the places where Trollope and the others roamed; to wander the drizzle in Kensal Green Cemetary and then walk through a murder in London; to hear the wonderful talk that Ellen gave, to wonder at the depth of her knowledge and ability at the talk and through our wanderings in London and Salisbury; to meet the other halves of the people on line, Paul, our most gracious host with a library the glories of which will probably put me in the poorhouse since I want most of it that I don't own; Nan Eisner and daughter Tory, Jim and Isabelle; Ellen and Sig pouring over the Magna Carta (and by the way for me seeing the Magna Carta); walking through Salisbury Cathedral and hearing organ music playing and the final tea at an old pub with all of us totally replete after a great day planned by Angela.

Thanks to all who worked so hard to do this for us.


From: "Catherine Crean" After reading Joan Wall's wonderful post about our week in England, I can't do better than say, "Hear, hear!" My journal is crammed with details, and I will share a few impressions. Staying with Angela and Paul was one of the best parts of the trip. We enjoyed their hospitality, their lovingly restored home, and Paul's library. It was great fun to sit in Angela's living room with a fire in the fireplace while talking about Trollope and drinking tea. On Sunday Angela and Paul took us around London (or "the city" as I think it is called by the natives.) We went to the Tate Gallery and saw the Bloomsbury exhibition. We also looked at some paintings by Millais and other members of the Pre-Raph brotherhood. Paul gave me a crash course in the Pre-Raphaelites. Success! Thanks to Paul, I have an idea of what the PR Brotherhood was all about. I also made my Y2K resolution that I would start visiting museums. Paul, if you are reading this, I will send you a postcard every time I go on a museum trip. Joan and I went on the walk in the Kensal Green Cemetary on Monday morning. We met Sig and Nan Eisner, and their daughter Torie. Henry Vivian-Neal lead the walk through the cemetary where we viewed the graves of Trollope. Thackeray, and Wilkie Collins. We also visited the chapel and the catacombs. Henry was a charming, energetic host. He strode through the paths among the monuments using his furled umbrella to point to areas of interest. When Henry wasn't using his umbrella as a pointer, he stuck the end of it in the wet ground and left the umbrella standing as upright as a gatepost. Henry does everything with panache! We had lunch in a modern building wing attached to a chapel. The area where we sat down for lunch looked like a visitors' centre. We had a warming meal of stew, salad, and bread. The dessert was a fabulous pie called , and I'm sure I've got it wrong, "bannatoffee." It had a layer of bananas, a scrumtious toffee layer and grated chocolate on the tope. Sensational! The group was then whisked away in a caravan of cabs for the Trollope Walk. As soon as we disembarked in the city we met Ellen and her husband, and Isabell. Hugs and greeting all around and then off on a walking tour of London. More later, if you are interested.

From: "Catherine Crean"

Angela said Ellen's talk was a "tour de force" and indeed it was. I have seldom been so excited as I was Tuesday night at the Reform Club in Pall Mall. Those of us who were on the Trollope walk on Monday had been in the Trollope Club for tea as guests of John Letts. Thank you, Mr. Letts, for a very special afternoon. The Reform Club's magnificent Library was the setting for both our Monday tea and Ellen's talk. After the business portion of the AGM was finished, John Letts introduced Ellen most graciously. Many of the people attending the AGM were not familiar with the Trollope-l list and many are not internet users. In his introduction, John Letts made the point that the comments readers of Trollope make on the internet are "important and worthy of preserving." The internet is a new venue for people to discuss Trollope - a venue unfamiliar to many readers of Trollope. After the introduction, Ellen "took her position on the hearth rug" so to speak, and began her talk. Ellen mesmerized the audience with her lecture. She had her facts well in hand, she had a unique topic to present, and she she incredible presence and vitality. I felt as if I were hearing a symphony where movements and passages follow one upon the other - sometimes harmoniously and sometimes with contrast. Ellen's gift is not only her knowledge of Trollope, but her ability to weave many threads together in a coherent argument. I look forward to reading her talk, but hearing Ellen expound on Trollope with passion, understanding, and scholarship was a rare experience. The applause at the end of Ellen's talk was sustained and heartfelt. Ellen answered quesitons, and then we all sipped wine and and enjoyed informal conversation. I met Teresa Ransom who inscribed my copy of her biography of Fanny Trollope. I wish I could have seen Teresa in her one woman show on Fanny Trollope. I will have to wait for my next trip to England. Ellen was surrounded by admirers, and everyone I spoke to had great praise for Ellen's talk. On the evening of the AGM, at at subsequent occasions, I was struck by one thing above all others. There is a sense of fellowship among readers of Trollope. This fellowship knows no geographic boundaries. This fellowship is selfless and inclusive. Trollope himself would have been an enthusiatic member such a fellowship. I have seldom felt such warmth and comraderie as I felt at the AGM on the night of Ellen's talk. We were truly honoring the Trollope, both the man and his works. Where could Trollope have found such fitting advocates as John Letts and Ellen Moody?

From: "Howard Merkin" I apologise that I have not replied before to the messages posted over the past few days, and particularly to Laurie, who asked a number of questions. When I got back from London last Wednesday, I set up a new computer and transferred all my files. Fellow list members will not be surprised to hear that I fouled something up in the process, and was not able to receive or send e-mails for some days. I only got things sorted out today, and will reply as best I can to Laurie's questions.

You will have gathered from other messages that there were a great many enthusiastic questions after Ellen's talk. As I said, a number of people that I spoke to were interested in everything that she had to say, and expressed a keenness to find out more about the internet, and the Trollope List.

Sadly, I did not succeed in meeting any fellow list members, other than Ellen. I went round the gathering of 50/60 people looking for an American appearance, and listening for American accents, without any success. Obviously all the list members present succeeded in disguising themselves effectively. Next time I shall wear a hat with a sign on it! I didn't even make contact with Henry, even though at one stage John Letts went round trying to find him for me.

You will have got a good impression of the occasion from the postings from Angela, Joan and Catherine. I am so sorry that I was not, after all, able to get away from the Fens in time to join the Monday excursion to Kensal Green and the Trollope walk, as I had hoped to do.


When I and the other Americans got back we wrote in too:

From: "Ellen Moody"

Re: My Week in London I too will chime in. I had a deeply gratifying week. Jim, Isabel, and I took a flight that left Washington at 9:40 pm, USA EST, and arrived at Heathrow at 10 am, London GMT. We slept on the plane: what else can you do when there are 32 inches between the back of your seat and the seat in front of you? (Yes, we went by steerage.) GMU (George Mason University) bought my ticket, and Jim planned for us to come to the apartment we rented while the concierge was on duty so we got in promptly, rested, showered, changed clothes (like good Victorian characters), and then Jim called Henry. Then I heard Henry's voice loud and clear. Miraculously, we were in walking distance of where Henry's group led by the remarkably knowledgable Bill Streeten. It seems I have been to many Trollope sites without ever recognising them. Jim had rented an apartment for us which was on York Street and overlooked the church in which Trollope's sister, Cecilia, was married. All around this area of London Bill has mapped out walks in which one can pick up moments in the lives of Trollope or his mother and the imaginative stories of his characters. Among other routes and houses, we traced the route Emilius took to murder Mr Bonteen, the route Mr Bonteen took, how Phineas managed to save Mr Kennedy in an earlier book, where this or that character lived or did this or that. Bill's grasp of the physical realities of the novels' many scenes brings home to you how much Trollope's novels derive from his memory and imagination dwelling on London's hierarchical and labyrinthian landscape.

Tuesday we rested, and I gave my talk in the evening. My subject was a complicated one: epistolarity in Trollope. The reason I use this super-abstract word is it takes into account all the real characteristics of the experience of a letter as it occurs in society -- all of which Trollope exploits. By this I mean (among other things) the difference between the real thoughts of someone, the words he or she might use, and what he or she will write down; the documentary nature of a letter which can be used against people; how a letter makes people both present and absent to one another and how writers and recipients take advantage of this; how letters allow people to pour out their souls, and how they can equally be studied performances. How they import meanings into a narrative Trollope knows he cannot control. Trollope makes acts of reading and writing letters narrative events in his novels too -- so we get a multi-perspective as we read -- for we interpret the letter as does the narrator. I also went into how Trollope uses letters to bind together and tell his stories. I demonstrated that Trollope's use of letters and semi-epistolary narration is central to his story-telling technique, distinguishes him from all other Victorians, and can be studied in three separate phases. I had lots of examples from the letters, and quoted the novels wherever I could insofar as time permitted. It will appear in the next _Trollopiana_ so I'll say no more.

Afterwards I met a number of our list members. I had met Sig, Nan, Toria, Catherine, Joan & Henry on Monday. I was delighted to talk to Howard and Teresa. I so enjoyed the numbers of people who came up to me to confide ideas they had long had about Trollope which we shared. John Letts had a copy of my book, _Trollope on the Net_ waiting for me. To me it is beautiful. It is a finely made book physically, with reproductions of the original illustrations from the ovels, and I think _dulce et utile_. I hope everyone will enjoy it. I will later this week or early next put on our list information on how to buy it through e-mail and the post for those who are not in the Trollope Society. I am told it will cost £17.50 or $29.95.

As others have said, the lecture is held in the library of the Reform Club. The library consists of a comfortable size pair of rooms. Behind the huge building is a beautiful garden and on the other side of the garden two other older clubs: the Atheneum and the Travellers. I believe Trollope belonged to both.

On Wednesday Jim and I made it to Kensal Green where Anthony & Thackeray are buried -- and a lot of other Londoner autors.

I can add to what others have said that it is a fully functioning cemetery. There are fresh graves, and it's really not a place for show in the way of the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. It's not easy to find individual tombstones. The map they give you at the gate is, according to my husband, worse than useless.

Thursday was another high point. Angela had organized a trip for a group of us to Salisbury Cathedral. We got on the train at around 9:30; the day included a tour round the cathedral by a guide who was well-informed. She did not give a short potted or predigested talk about a subject she didn't know very well. She loved that church and talked for a full hour and one half and could have gone on further. It was not her fault she had a group of people who were well-read in some of her areas, and inclined really to listen and question what she said. I think she enjoyed our paying real attention to her. It is true that she suggested Magna Carta was not written in Latin, and a group of us poured over a copy under glass in the church store (yes the church has a store just like a museum), and discovered it was in Latin. The document itself was fascinating. It had curious clauses in which the barons singled out individuals they apparently were not keen on, and forbid John to favour them; it also had some interesting clauses about women: widows were expected to accept a man's proposal to them to become their second husband unless they could provide security (money and land) in proof they needed no husband. This reminded me of how in Trollope women are expected to say yes to a man's proposal unless they love some other man or can produce some strong reason why they refuse him.

The cathedral is also a working church. It's not just a beautiful place with a deeply green shaded cloister, choirs, chapels, sewn alter cloths (modern) and stained glass windows of 20th century creation. Angela pointed out some figures by Burne-Jones.

Angela took us to an inn several of whose walls and roof derive from the 13th century. It stands next to a building built in the 16th century, and overlooks a beautiful stream filled with waterbirds. We had tea there. Jim played Mother and poured. We talked of Chaucer. A good moment we will all remember.

Jim, Isabel, and I also made it to a couple of museums, saw Peter Grimes, the full trilogy of Aeschylus in two parts: Agamemnon and The Libation Bearers were brilliantly performed at the National theatre. We also managed Noel Coward's brave autobiographical A Song at Twilight (he reveals his homosexuality). Standing by the Thames at night on the bridge which you walk across from the main part of London to the South Bank you see magnificent buildings, many lights, and so many boats. The old steps of the walls of the embankment are not yet gone.

A less happy note: I have wondered for 3 trips now who are the women beggars one sees everywhere around London who are dressed like gypsie. They always have an infant wrapped round their shoulders, and come up to people in a sing-song determined demand-like request for money. There are so many of these women. They dress alike; always have the infant. The infant is always the same age. There are never children trailing behind them. There is some act and costuming going' on here. In the US one does see many homeless people, but it is rare to see a child in the street with them. If a women refuses help, I have supposed her child is taken from her. Not that I approve of anyone taking a woman's child from her.

By myself I had a couple of business meetings! With Martin Sheppard I looked forward to another book, this one on Jane Austen's two Bath novels (Northanger Abbey and Persuasion). I also met with a group of baroque musicians who go round England playing beautiful (and very sexy) 17th and 18th century music. They are interested in the life and poetry of Anne Finch for whom I wrote half a biographical-literary study which I have put on my homepage, as well as a complete annotated chart of all her poems in chronological order, showing their provenance, manuscripts, editions, and which anthologies you can find them in.

We went home Sunday. Right now I am waiting for British Airways to bring to my house the large suitcase we brought home with us which included many of our clothes and the six copies of my book -- as well as Isabel's homework. This suitcase didn't make it onto the plane with us. Many airlines have decided they have in effect a monopoly of the air as a group. They can ignore their passengers' comfort (witness steerage), can overbook a plane, and make people stand in line for hours to put away their baggage. Then they need not hire enough employees or pay sufficient attention actually to get people's suitcases onto the correct plane.

I thought of Dorothy and Toto when I got home. As those of us familiar with The Wizard of Oz know, after the adventures are concluded and journeys achieved, she says there's no place like home, and we hear the click, click of her shoes, we leave the excitement and colour of high life to return to the quiet good world of black-and-white again.


(Two days later:

Dear All, my suitcase arrived in the wee hours of this morning. The man was literally afraid to come to the door. Other customers must get very angry.


To Trollope-l

November 30, 1999

Re: The Warden and Dr Thorne Sites

I forgot to mention that on Thursday when a group of us went to Salisbury Cathedral we also visited a compound (probably a US term) which is said to be made up of precisely those buildings and space Trollope described in The Warden. As we walked away from the Cathedral, we came upon a series of enclosed gardens which were cultivated by the side of houses built well before the 20th century. One of these walled-in enclosures lacked grass: on the one side you saw an old stone building, blackened here and there, tall older sash windows, much beige and gray. Here the 12 bedesmen lived. One could say why in the 19th century such people would have been seen as living in comfort. A kind of L-shaped building faced the stone building. It was larger, and was Mr Harding's mansion. In the center of the courtyard was a circled stone garden. Here Dr Grantly harangued the old men.

On Monday when a group of us followed Bill Streeten around London, we saw the block on which the Greshams had their home.

A little later in the week my husband told me he walked over to where the workhouse Trollope faced had been. It is now a large institutional building. The older one was pulled down and replaced. The rest of the facing blocks contain mostly early 20th century terraced houses. All but the new building which replaced the workhouse stems from around 1890.


Subject: [trollope-l] London

From: Sigmund Eisner Friday morning, 3 December, our alarm clock in the Jury's Hotel in Kensington went off at 5:30. Twenty-four hours later to the minute our plane touched down in Tucson, Arizona, and Nan, Tori (No. 1 Daughter) and I were met by Tori's husband and our No. 2 Daughter, Halley. Today is Sunday, and I don't think Nan or I are over our jet lag. But we plan to meet Tori and her family, No. 2 Son Chip and his family, and Halley and her family at Halley's house to discuss our two week trip to the UK and France. Jet lag or no jet lag, I'd like to tell all of you what we did and saw.

Let's start with Sunday, Nov. 21, the day after we arrived. We were graciously entertained at lunch by Robert and Vicki Wright, who live in Kensington, not far from our hotel. There we met Henry, who was later to conduct us on our tour through Kensal Green cemetary. After lunch Robert drove us on a tour of London, which included the amazing "Eye of London," a new 450 foot ferris wheel located just off Westminster Bridge and looks like a huge front wheel of a bicycle. Monday was the tour through the cemetary, which has been described by others. We did see the graves of Trollope, Thackeray, and Wilkie Collins. Then we all got into taxis and rode to the West End, where we walked where Phineas Finn, Mr. Emelius, and Mr. Bonteen walked in Phineas Redux. Our guide was Bill Streeter, who has cleverly made up maps of places mentioned by Trollope. We ended up at the Reform Club, where we were greeted by John Letts and where we had tea. On this day I was very pleased to meet Ellen, her husband Jim, her daughter Isobel, Catherine Crean, Joan Hill, Angela, and her husband Paul, and others whom I had just known as names on the net. We had dinner with Angela, Paul, Joan, and Catherine. The next day was Ellen's lecture. Ellen was just as well organized in her lecture as she is on the net. The subject, which we all now know, was Trollope's use of letters. Ellen made her points in logical order, one, two, three. The lecture was every bit as big a success as others have told us. Also, I had the privilege of leafing through Ellen's new book, which I advise all Trollopians to buy and enjoy.

On Wednesday we went to the museum at Wimbledon, which we all wanted to see, and Tori visited her old college, Richmond University of London.

Thursday was the great trip to Salisbury. Angela was our guide, and we saw not just the Cathedral but the very buildings which were the origin of Hiram's Hospital and Mr. Harding's house. Congratulations to Angela for providing us with a marvelous day.

After the Trollope business was over, we went to Melton-Mowbray in Leicestershire to visit old friends and then to Cambridge, where I spent the day going over manuscripts in the Trinity College Library, while Nan and and Tori shopped.

We took a quick trip to France by the Chunnel to visit and old friend who is a recent widower. Then we came back to the Jury Hotel and prepared for our trip home the following day.

I have six photos which I would like to show you. Not being very good with attachments, I'm going to make a separate message for each one of them. Do bear with me.

And, again, I want to offer warmest congratulations to Ellen, who was the real reason for our trip to England. Those of us who were at her lecture were more than impressed. We were overwhelmed.


From a snail-mail letter to my long-time friend, Karen Dubno, who lives in New York City

Dearest Karen,

As you can see from the public postings, the lecture went very well for me. Something did bring out in me on the spot my ability to perform. The old A student in dramatic reading is still alive in me. Of course I couldn't tell of the bad stress and sleeplessness, headaches, hives, the fact that my chest would tighten up and it was hard for me to catch my breath.

I also didn't tell of the 'official business' at the meeting which prefaced my talk. It consisted of re-affirming who runs the Trollope Society and describing its monies. We watched an election whose option only one person opposed and only for a moment. John Letts was given as a gift personally to him some £10,000 by an American millionaire, on condition Letts keep the society going and publish a Trollope book once a year (it had been 4 a year, but now the novels are all published). Then the man gave the society another $35,000.

An interesting sidelight: the atmosphere of the Reform Club is somewhat uncomfortable. At least I feel it to be so. The average employee wears very old-fashioned "class" marking clothes: bell-hop uniforms, stiff maid's dresses and the like. One of our American friends made the mistake of coming into the Reform Club in sneakers. The people controlling the entrance (men in frock coats) tried to forbid her entry. She was forced to go up the back elevator. The attitude of those enforcing the rules is predicated on how they are treated and the rules that they too must obey.

As to my private experience, Last Sunday we left Washington at 9:40 pm, EST last Sunday and arrived in London, 10 o'clock London time. We made it to our flat in 2 hours, rested just a bit, washed, dressed, and then called Henry Vivian-Neale. We actually met him and a number of the people who showed up at the lecture, and followed an elderly man, Bill Streeten around the area of London in which our flat was located. This for 3 more hours. We were in Trollope country: Bill Streeten could tell you where so many of the characters in Trollope did this or that or lived -- and where the Trollopes lived too. The flat Jim took for him, me, and Isabel looked over the church in which one of Trollope's sisters was married. We got to the Reform Club at 6 o'clock London time, met Letts and had a very rich English tea (Jim downed three super-sweet cakes). There was good talk. I kissed and hugged Sigmund Eisner. Then Jim, I and Isabel went back to our flat around 8.

This was wonderful, but my body was superconfused.

I couldn't sleep. I found myself wide awake around 1 in the morning, but feared the Restoril would affect my ability to perform. So I took a fiornal for the terrific headache that was forming. Two hours and two stories by Dinesen later the headache was gone, but no sleep. So I took a Restoril. I slept until 10. As of today I am still only managing 4 hours a night.

The first practice in the morning of Tuesday November 23rd was weazy. The Restoril interfered with my producing energy for verve and pizzazz in the reading. Still I knew I couldn't have done it without sleep. I rested again, and around 2 practised again. This time it went very well.

It went even better in front of the people. I did say I remembered getting an A in dramatic reading in college, and Laura gets her talent for dramatic enactment from me. I did read it very well. Not perfect. I stumbled here and there, once in an attempt at too much eye contact, another time in an attempt to depart from my written script. They also liked the content. One of the Big Men at the table (all officials of the Society) said when I'd done, he wished every time they had a paper like mine, and declared 'this was not literary criticism.' Yes it was. But it was not jargon nonsence. I really went into the novels, and talked in ordinary language. Jim said the audience was responding because they knew all the books -- as a Janeite audience will know Austen's books and get all the allusions and jokes.

There was a reasonable crowd. I recognized the faces of a couple of Trollope scholars who lived in London. It was said that there were many more people than usual. This was remarked by several people. The people from Trollope-l made the difference. I would say there were about 110 people in the room. After I finished I was strongly applauded. There were lively questions. A bit later several people came up to me and talked to me in tones of intense enthusiasm about Trollope: I could see they hardly ever get a chance to talk about their hero in this way.

From the list: I met Teresa Ransom: a small blonde Australian woman who was once a very lovely woman and is still very pretty. Howard Merkin is a shy tall Englishman -- so nice in person. Henry Vivian-Neale similar. Sig, his wife, and daughter were there; Catherine Crean, Joan Wall, Angela Richardson and her partner. Sig is a elderly man, very kind, very sensible. There was also a woman who told me she is in an English Johnson society, and asked me if I would come and talk to them sometime. Really. We exchanged names! She suggested I could make a talk about someone Johnson knew: Richardson, perhaps a later 18th century contemporary Not that I would have the time: the audience would be academic, but not nailed to the cross of deconstructionist kinds of talk. I probably wouldn't do it, but she was really serious.

Martin Sheppard was there. John Letts seemed pleased. He bought Jim, I and Isabel dinner at the Reform Club afterwards. One man, Pelham Ravenscroft (that's his real name) joined us.

I felt a real exultation afterwards. Could I have e-mailed you, I would have sounded happy. I felt good because I felt I had earned it. Many people remarked on how much work it must have taken.

I was overexcited and couldn't sleep all night, but didn't mind so much.

Our apartment was large and lovely. Isabel had a larger room than we did. We overlooked a school and she watched the children play. She seems to have enjoyed herself. She came to everything but my meeting with Linda Brand and Helena and Sheppard. We had a long day in Salisbury Cathedral with Angela and the Americans who came -- which Isabel enjoyed very much. Angela took us to a 13th century inn by a mill to have tea. Jim took Isabel to the zoo during the time I met Sheppard.

The weather cooperated. It was mild, and often sunny. I carried my coat a lot. Isabel wore a gorgeous red cloak I bought her about 3 years ago. The first time she got some real wear out of it. As usual, Jim seems to grow English or taller when we come to England. At the inn Angela invited him to play Mother and poured. He did. He and Angela understood one another.

The trip home was very bad. Jim and I say we'll never take British Air again.

Love Ellen

Subject: [trollope-l] The Mayor: Close of Story

From: "Howard Merkin"

Now that I have finished re-reading The Mayor for the first time for twenty years, I feel that I am disappointed in the book. When I last read it, I had the impression that the apparently inevitable doom that falls on Henchard appeared to be the punishment for his thoughtless behaviour in the furmity woman's tent. Now that I have read it again -- possibly after an extensive reading of Trollope's works -- I find the plot totally unconvincing, with so many strange actions and such extraordinary behaviour by Henchard that I lost all patience with him.

For example, the successful and powerful corn factor, who has a fine house, many employees and clearly plenty of money, has, at the beginning of the Casterbridge action, bought a large amount of 'grown flour' which appears to be unsuitable for baking edible bread. Nevertheless, Henchard appears to have been powerful enough to compel the bakers to buy this bad material, and for them to oblige their customers to eat it! Hardy does not make it clear how this is achieved, and why the bakers and the public did not buy their wheat and bread elsewhere. All that the people seem to do is to grumble about it (Chapter V).

The remarkable Farfrae however, has a solution, which he indicates by a few words on a leaf of his pocket book, which he tears out and passes to Henchard. His proposal is never made clear to us by Hardy. There appears to be some operation involving drying and refrigerating, which Farfrae is able to demonstrate magically in his hotel room when Henchard comes to see him. As a consequence, Henchard offers him a job, and eventually persuades him to accept it on 'his own terms'. This is apparently without any form of reference, and obliging him to put off Jopp, to whom he has already offered the job.

Having shown such an instant quality of decision, Henchard then displays his singular incapacity for man management. He appears to be unable to get Abel Wharton to get to work on time, and his methods of persuasion seem to be unacceptable even in early nineteenth century Wessex. Farfrae effectively over-rules him, and from that moment his time with Henchard is clearly coming to an end.

Farfrae sets up on his own in business, and Henchard, with the previously rejected Jopp, develops a scheme to use his financial muscle to 'under-sell and over-buy' Farfrae. The whole scheme depended on a prediction on the outcome of the harvest. Henchard completely mis-reads the weather and the harvest, and despite his use of a 'weather-caster', gets things totally wrong. As a result, the bank comes down on him, and he is made bankrupt. Farfrae, who has already taken over Lucetta, now takes over Henchard's house and business, and Henchard ends up by becoming Farfrae's employee. It is impossible to find any point at which he acted rationally, except possibly in re-marrying Susan, and there he failed to give any serious consideration to his obligations to Lucetta, which might have been considered to be greater than those which he had to Susan.

I cannot see Henchard as a tragic character -- rather as an incompetent one, and I didn't feel affected by his death. I was sorrier at the death of Lucetta, but the circumstances of her death are another plot item beyond belief. As with Susan's death bed letter, the discovery of her past depends on a number of improbable circumstances. Henchard does not want to return her letters himself, so he gives the task to Jopp. The latter discovers that Henchard, like Susan, is not very good with sealing wax, reads the letters before returning them, and reads out the choice bits to the characters in the Three Mariners, who come up with the idea of the skimmity ride. As a result of this, Lucetta has a fit, from which she dies. I cannot think of a plot in Trollope's entire works which is so improbably constructed.

Finally, list members may have read John Sutherland's article 'Why are there no public conveniences in Casterbridge?'. In this he not only draws attention to what must have been a not unexpected shortcoming in Casterbridge, but also makes the point that when Susan and Elizabeth-Jane meet Mrs Goodenough on their way to Casterbridge, she can remember very little about the wife-sale eighteen years ago. But when Henchard takes the chair at the court which is to try Mrs Goodenough for the offence of 'disorderly female and nuisance', she 'recounts in malicious detail the Weydon Fair episode', identifying Henchard as the wife-seller. This seems to be another instance of sloppy plot-writing by Hardy, which makes me think that _The Mayor_ is not a very high class piece of work. I think, although it is probably five years since I read it, that _Tess_ is a tragic masterpiece, and I can accept the view held by Ellen and others that _Jude_ is a masterpiece too, although I do not feel that I want to read it again. Nevertheless, the recent exchanges about some of Hardy's other works have made me think that I shall certainly go back to them again, when I have looked into Fanny Trollope and those of her many works that I can find in paperback or in the second hand book market......


To Trollope-l

December 2, 1999

Re: The Mayor: Some Thoughts Upon Finishing

In response to Howard's thoughtful persuasive essay, I'd like to say I too feel a strong vein of contrivance at work in The Mayor as also The Return of the Native. It's less obvious in Jude the Obscure because there Hardy seems to bring most of the disasters that occur out of the personalities of the main characters and their conflicts with one another and the mores of the minor characters who are brought forward to embody these mores. Yet it is still there because realistically no one would be quite so relentlessly unlucky, so dumb about their self-interests and passive at every crisis that comes their way.

I can add to Howard's comments something I read in one of the critics and scholars I have read over the past couple of months we have been reading Hardy: one of them showed how Hardy skews his stories so the length of our attention is on the ordeal which crushes and the times in the characters' life where there is happiness skimmed over in a couple of sentences -- as with Jude's earliest years living with Sue, his apparently deeply satisfying conversations with her as a soul-companion, and his enjoyment of sex with her which her pregnancies suggest she found satisfaction in too. We only see Henchard making a traumatic decision he is driven to, and then again on the way down. At the close of The Return of the Native Hardy does try for comedy and happiness, but the attempt to convey humour through Thomasin and Diggory Venn is so heavy-handed and the obvious coming poetic reward so obvious and so dragged out, I get the feeling Hardy is forcing himself.

However, Howard used as his standard of contrast -- and in all judgements we are weighing a particular example against a standard drawn from another example -- Anthony Trollope and his years reading Trollope's books. It is often said that novels are easy to read: what is skimmed over is that the surface issues of a book are easy to talk about. Reader gossip about characters as if they were real people, plucking them out of the novelist's rhetorical design and we get generalised moralistic judgements about money, what some hero or heroine ought to be from the point of view of social admiration, how to gain acceptance from others not derived from the book at all. It is true that this is where understanding of a novel begins. Novels are about the worldly aspect of life we experience in a daily sort of way. But then you have to integrate the psychology of the character into all the many other elements which make up the novel. What the novelist him or herself is getting at through the whole design of the book is hard to uncover; it takes intellectual work, really interesting sympathetically and delicately into the novelists' sometimes ironic and enigmatic way of presenting some vision. It is often presented ironically and enigmatically so as not to offend unsympathetic readers, so as to change their minds about something slowly.

Similarly people often feel that novels are easy to write. That's why the assumption that so many women turned to novels in the 19th century. In fact, they are not hard to write if your aim is to make money. The simpler you make them, the closer to a formula may make you more successful. But to write a masterpiece in the genre of novel is not easy. There are I think few great novelists -- people who really have a gift for this kind of narrative art to use it to figure forth some deeply apprehended group of ideas and feelings about life. Only a few novelists really can put before you characters who breathe life, who remain alive and real for centuries. Many are unable to do dialogue well. Now Trollope is one of these -- pace all the condescension. It may be that many of Trollope's values are not those many modern readers are particularly fond of, but as a novelist qua novelist he is hard to beat. I suggest that one reason he is so comfortable in writing novels is that his vision is one in which he preaches at us acceptance of the social world. He shows the cost but also the comfort of conforming to external pressures from other people in daily life.

My view is that Hardy has a hard time with the novel because he's not interested in the probable or the norm. In fact the conventions of realism get in the way of an essentially poetic apprehension of the individual creative and sensitive man and woman's struggle against the conventions of society. These he sees as manifestations of the animal layers of human nature. Morality is a code which grows out of selfishness and fear. The strong use the weak to get to the top -- as that top is understood through hierarchies based on cunning and determined aggressive strength. He has ideas hard to prove scientifically. For example, he seems to feel that the growth of sophisticated consciousness among the educated in the modern world makes them unhappy and puts them at a disadvantage against the simplicity of older cultural types. Jude cannot fight against the dense stupidity of those who simply condemn someone who doesn't want to marry to justify sex; Eustacia cannot fight against the venomous ignorance of a Susan Nonesuch or the strong aggression of Clym Yeobright's mother who has herself mangled her life to obey notions about hierarchy and what is valuable or admirable in existence. One cannot prove the idea that the Greeks and other primitive peoples are as a group more comfortable simply being alive than 19th century educated Europeans by giving us a story based on probabilities.

Many novelists have complained about having to have a story, having to create suspense, having to work within the conventions of the form. Why these conventions? They make for ease of reading and attract large readerships. Trollope has some comments on reading novels in his work and seems to think the gift of understanding what the writer was getting at is rare, although reading itself frequent. He says readers do get something out of their reading of novels, but it is probably often not what the novelist intended. (This comment occurs both in The Small House at Allington and He Knew He Was Right). Trollope accepts this, probably because he was close to the values of his original readership and the novel can be said to have been invented to present the kinds of conflicts he Trollope is interested in. That is not so for Hardy.

Ellen Moody

To Trollope-l

December 2, 1999

Re: 'Why Are There No Public Conveniences in Hardy?'

I just looked at the two collections of essays by Sutherland which I own: neither Can Jane Eyre Be Happy? nor Is Heathcliff a Murderer? contains 'Why are there no public conveniences in Hardy?' I wonder if Howard could tell us which collection the essay appears in? There are two others, one which draws its question from Pride and Prejudice and the other which draws its question from Rebecca. I am intrigued enough to buy the correct book. It strikes me that in his inimitable way Sutherland may have struck on just the improbability or inconsistency which tells us an important truth about Hardy's fiction and purpose. One of Hardy's poetic or metaphysical beliefs is his notion that life runs along Aeschlyean lines. Joy is fleeting and most of the time a joke, unreal, something you persuade yourself you are having. Failure, loss, profound personal distress, ravaging hatred and envy and spite from those around you -- all these and other Furies of Nature and Human Consciousness are the norm. A man persuaded of this is not going to worry about putting public conveniences in his imagined village. Now public conveniences are just the sort of thing we might find Trollope using for comedy in a dramatic scene -- in the way he will use a donkey, a parrot, a mistaken scene, the realities of letter writing and receiving. Maybe Mullen is right to point us to Trollope's travel books as revealing the essence of the man: in these Trollope goes about to check out things like public conveniences.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

From: "Howard Merkin"
To: "Trollope List"
Date: Fri, 3 Dec 1999 20:56:01 -0000

Subject: [trollope-l] Why are there no public conveniences.....

From: "Howard Merkin"

In reply to Ellen's query, the title of Sutherland's article is actually 'Why are there no public conveniences in *Casterbridge*?', not in 'Hardy'. He is puzzled as to why, in a market town where scores of cattle are herded throughout the day, leaving their dung behind them, the constable should have been worried by the furmity woman quietly relieving herself in the dark, over a gutter. He thinks that she probably upset the policeman when he shone his lantern on her, and she called him some names. The battle between the poor and the forces of law and order really have not changed a great deal over the past century.

The essay appears in Sutherland's third book Who betrays Elizabeth Bennet?, which contains some splendid articles fully up to the standard of his two previous books to which Ellen refers. The book was published, like the previous two, by Oxford World's Classics, in 1999. The ISBN number is 0-19-283884-9, and my paperback copy is priced at £4.99 RRP or $9.95 USA. I got my copy, probably with a 20% reduction, through, and I would expect that will have it too. I have a feeling that I have seen the book referring to _Rebecca_ in a bookshop, but I didn't have a chance of looking at it, and have no idea what it contains.

Incidentally, I had vowed not to spend any more money on books this side of Christmas, but the comments about Terry's _Companion to Trollope_ have made me think seriously about breaking this vow. Perhaps a suitable hint to my wife might save me from the breach....

Howard Merkin

Subject: [trollope-l] 'Why are there no public conveniences in Casterbridge?

From: Ellen Moody

Thank you so much Howard.

I suppose many of us make vows not to buy any more books until such- and-such a time and break them constantly. I will now go to Amazon and buy Who Betrays Elizabeth Bennet?. I bought the Oxford Reader's Companion to Trollope from my Scholar's Bookshelf catalogue. (Thank you, Anne Lyons, for the description. Also Gene Stratton.)

I am not surprised at Sutherland's use of the lack of public conveniences in *Casterbridge*?'. Howard writes:

'He is puzzled as to why, in a market town where scores of cattle are herded throughout the day, leaving their dung behind them, the constable should have been worried by the furmity woman quietly relieving herself in the dark, over a gutter. He thinks that she probably upset the policeman when he shone his lantern on her, and she called him some names. The battle between the poor and the forces of law and order really have not changed a great deal over the past century'.

I agree that Hardy likes to show the average person as vulnerable and the poor as downtroden. However, he also likes to bring out the close association of people with animals and the earth. By having the furmity woman relieve herself in the dark on the street, we see her outside the technology of her society. I wonder if Hardy has scenes of men relieving themselves in the fields. He likes to show us how difficult it is to keep oneself clean; how the natural world seeps into the pores of the poor -- think of the reddleman in The Return of the Native.

Still cheers to all, as I go off to order the witty Sutherland,


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Page Last Updated 11 January 2003