Editions and Commentary: An Eye for an Eye and The Landleaguers

To Trollope-l

October 16, 2001

Re: An Eye for an Eye and possibly Landleaguers

This is to thank Wayne, Judy, Rory, Kristi, and Howard for quickly endorsing my sense that 1) after all, the way time has worked out, we will be too long without a Trollope novel; and 2) therefore, An Eye for an Eye ought to be scheduled for the next month and a half (or, to put it another way, until Christmas) along with an Irish partner book. As Rory says, this is not a hard book to find. I'll add that if you buy it in paperback, it's inexpensive.

What I'll do now is simply make a schedule for An Eye for an Eye at a very leisurely pace (taking Trollope's divisions of 5 groups of 4 chapters), which will leave time for those who would like to also read a partner book of their choice or simply to read a partner book as originally planned. By the weekend I'll post a list of editions recently published.

All who have written in thus far have also mentioned my reference to The Landleaguers as a further possibility to begin in mid-January or so. While a couple other of Trollope's books were published posthumously (Autobiography, An Old Man's Love), this one is actually unfinished. It breaks off suddenly; and there's a chapter close to the end which is purely narrative politics. Very unlike Trollope not to dramatize: the chapter reminds me of George Orwell in a couple of chapters of Homage to Catalonia. That Landleaguers is unfinished could be one reason for some of the crudities of the subplot which Howard mentions (i.e., the theatre manager). Trollope would finish a book before serialising, and he revised and polished much more than people have supposed. Landleaguers makes an interesting comparison with Trollope's very first novel, Macdermots as both are about violence and court trials and the fear of terrorism as well as the real thing -- so Landleaguers is relevant. Actually An Old Man's Love is reminiscent of Trollope's The Warden, two sensitive sweet old man who have the moral courage to give something up -- in our ends are our beginings. The Landleaguers is one of the novels which R. H. Super has recently edited for the University of Michigan Press so there are two paperbacks (the Oxford Classics is the other) as well as the Oxford and Folio Society editions. There may be more. I'll also post a list of recently published editions of this one: that should give people time to buy it.

If we should go for both, that would mean we would have read 4 of Trollope's 5 Irish books in this go-round (all but The Macdermots).

Cheers to all,

October 21, 2001

Re: An Eye for an Eye and The Landleaguers: Editions & Commentary

As promised, here is a list of good editions available for purchase at cement-and-mortar stores, through bookclubs (which is what the Trollope and Folio Societies partly are), and online. I also offer some commentary on the publication history and content of the two books as I go.

An Eye for an Eye 's history shows the difficulty of publishing a story about a woman who is strongly sexual and until pregnancy unashamed (after that, this being Victorian fiction, she immediately changes). Trollope wrote it in 1870; it took 9 years to place it; when it was published it was vitriolically attacked except by those people who declared it a masterpiece. It was not one of the many many Trollope novels to be published by Oxford University Press during the 1920s and 1930s. I surmize it was seen as "unfit".

It still leads something of an underground existence in the sense that since 1966 there have been no less than eight -- that's eight -- editions (that's superlative) and yet it's "not known". Only scholars and fans of Trollope's fiction will have read it; there are few single essays on it. The introduction to the story by Simon Raven focuses on the male and how he is trapped by the women and the priest; that is, the way in which it is talked about by Raven erases the women and what is important and compelling about the book. Among other things, Raven also never discusses the hero's urge to isolation and to dreams wherein he is a type of Owen Fitzgerald. Maeve Binchey does at least discuss the poetic landscape even if that's all she does.

It is also a gothic, a very rare mode for Trollope.

An Eye for An Eye:

1966 Anthony Blond/NY; Stein and Day, Doughty Library, introduction Simon Raven. I own this edition; it doesn't always come with the introduction.

1979: New York: Garland, 2 volumes, introduction Robert Lee Wolff. This is a facsimile edition; that is it reprints the original 1879 text. As does

1979: New York: Arno, 2 volumes, introduction James R. Kincaid. Kincaid's introduction is very good;

1992: Oxford University Press, first printed then, with an introduction by Sutherland which goes over the publication history and links it to the presentation of sex in the story.

1993. The Trollope Society edition introduced by Maeve Binchey, which means there is also a

1993 Folio Society edition which will include the same text (even if printed on somewhat different quality paper in a somewhat lesser quality binding) and will have modern illustrations. It also has an introduction by Sutherland. I find Binchey's thin. She avoids all the issues of the book. I will see if I can buy this Folio Society book: I like the varied soft colours of the bindings, and I am very interested in the modern visualizations of Trollope's novels. It probably will not come in time for our read; I didn't think we would be reading this book.

1998: New York: Thorndike Press, the Macmillan Library, ISBN 0783884540. This too has an introduction by Sutherland; I have not seen it except online.

2000 Classic Books. This is in print, and as described (2 volumes, classic facsimile) may be a reprint of either the Arno or Garland editions.

The Landleaguers

This is Trollope's posthumous book, and it is sad that he didn't finish it. It's not even polished and revised for publication. It is, however, a very strong book, and has recently gotten some attention because of its perceptive treatment of terrorism, especially from the point of view of how a group of people who operate outside the law and ruthlessly can affect the emotional temperature of a society so that all turn murderous on one another. It is revealing that it too has had 7 editions in the last 30 years.

It makes a good comparison with The Macdermots where what is today referred to as terrorism (it's something of a misnomer since the phrase dismisses the reality that states conduct terrorism too), where "terrorism" is treated as a single case of a young man probably wrongly convicted of murder because the community, fearful, wants a scapegoat. There are a number of single separate essays on The Macdermots and The Landleaguers. I list them on my site; probably if Trollope had a better reputation and people outside the scholars and fans knew of these two books they'd provide much fodder for essays relevant to what's happening between the US and UK and NATO and other countries and the Taliban, Jihad, and Osama Bin Laden and other networks of young men today. On a list I am on (Psychological Approaches to Art), there has been an interesting discussion of the socialization and psychological history of young men who typically belong to "terrorist" networks. In brief, one finds that early in life they are taken from their mothers, socialized to be very hard, are kept away from women as sexual partners in their young manhood; they are found in societies where they belong to a perceived "underclass", whether it be in comparison to other classes in the society or ethnic groups.

1979 New York: Garland, 3 volumes, a facsimile reprint of the first edition introducted by Robert Wollf.

1981 New York: Arno, 3 volumes another facsimile edition, this one introduced by Robert Tracy. He's alway very good on Trollope's Irish fiction. He studies Celtic mythology, is a resident scholar of Irish literature at the University of California, and wrotes on Sheridan Le Fanu and the gothic.

1991. An Alan Sutton book, Gloucester, England.

1992. The University of Michigan Press at Ann Arbor, edited by R. H. Super. Super treats only the politics of the book in a straightforward informative way; that is, he doesn't relate the information to its treatment in the book, but the information is there. This is a superb edition where Super went back to the original manuscript. It includes a lovely photo frontispiece of Kate Fields; it is Super's view that the portrait of the strong actress heroine who proposes to support the hero is ultimately based on Kate Fields.

1993 Oxford University Press, introduced by Mary Hamer -- who introduced the Oxford Classic Castle Richmond. Her introductory essay is good. This too was not published in the 1920s and 1930s, probably once again the content was seen as "distasteful" or unappealing, and the book was after all "unfinished".

1995 The Trollope Society edition, introduced by Frank Delaney, and therefore

1995 The Folio Society edition, with illustrations by Val Biro and the same introduction by Frank Delaney. I will try to buy this one too; you can get these Folio Society editions inexpensively when they are used and on the Net. Otherwise I think you probably have to belong to the "club" which of course demands its yearly fee. Then of course you get yearly books and some are of great interest (the Folio Society published the travel writings of Charles Burney, for example.)

Cheers to all,

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