Calendar and Introduction; Editions; The Landleaguers and Civil War/Terrorism

To Trollope-l

January 1, 2002

Re: The LandleaguersM: Concise Calendar & Introduction

As most of us know, this is the one novel Trollope wrote which he didn't live to finish. He began the actual writing in June 1882 and was in the midst when on November 3rd he had the sudden stroke which incapacitated him. The story is told that he was laughing with others while someone was reading a funny story aloud and then in a couple of minutes the others realised he had stopped laughing.

N. John Hall writes the "seizure paralyzed his right side, almost completely impairing his powers of reason and speech." Those who have read his letter will know that for a couple of years leading up to this mortal event Trollope had been dealing with other symptoms of heart problems. In one his hand seems to be paralyzed; using slightly different language, the physicians at the time characterized him as suffering from angina pectoris (very bad pains in his chest). He lived on for another month and there are letters between his brother and others showing the tender care he was getting and their concern for him; he seemed to rally at one point (he is said to be improving, able to walk, use an arm, sleeps well), but then (ominously) the letters cease for two weeks, and by December 6 he is reported as "in a critical condition" and "unconscious".

He died at 6 p.m on December 6, 1882. He had had a long and sometimes hard life; he worked hard continuously; his brother later suggested he worked himself to death, but then work was his salvation and his joy. Somewhere in the letters he says his one fear is lest in heaven people not want novels. He has some poignant comments about what the work means to him in his late letters.

There is some magnificence of spirits surrounding the writing of this book. As ill as he was, Trollope travelled to Ireland to do his research; he went to where famous murders occurred; he didn't stint his energies at all. He gave of himself to Ireland and England (as he saw it). He was, as ever, determined to be absolutely up to date; once again, as in The Macdermots, The Kellys and O'Kellys and Castle Richmond he saw his novel as part reportage, serious reportage about grave happenings which needed attention and action. The novel is astonishingly timely: its central story issues from the terms of the 1881 Encumbered Estates Act; Trollope is not even-handed in this book: he presents the three goals of the act ('fair rents, fixity of tenure, and freedom of sale') as romantic and is far more concerned about justice to property owners than he is justice to tenants. But he does explain and dramatize the issues as they were understood with sufficient clarity that a reader can easily read against the grain or at least qualify the approach of the narrator to the events retold.

It is not nothing to give as much information about something as one can in lucid language -- I refer of course to the way the war in Afghanistan has been handled here in the US (hardly any information at all, and that totally biased -- except, I admit, if you get one of a small number of publications which have been reporting the situation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Egypt and Israel, viz., The Nation, The New Yorker [a series of articles from reporters on the spot or investigating various US agencies]). In other words, with all its defects, The Landleaguers is a book which attempts to tell the truth about a civil war over property, one also rooted in class, ethnic and religious tribalisms.

I cite a number of articles on my website which give all the information you might want about the Irish situation; however, Mary Hamer's introduction to the Oxford paperback Landleaguers and R. H. Super's introduction to the University of Michigan one tell you all you need to know too. I'll list the editions available in a separate posting.

According to J. Don Vann in Victorian Novels in Serial (which book I have now been using for several years and the knowledge of which I owe to Angela). Trollope's son had the book serialised in Life between 16 Nvember 1882 and 4 October 1883. It came a chapter a week, and we have 48 chapters (some clearly unfinished) and part of a 49th. If we read and talk at a rate of 7 a week and adjust so that we end on the ending of Volume I, we'll get to TWWLN by late February:

For Sunday,

Jan 13: Chapters 1-7
Jan 20: Chapters 8-16
Jan 27: Chapters 17-23

Feb 3: Chapters 24-31
Feb 10: Chapters 32-41
Feb 17: Chapters 42-49

I'll put the calendar up on my site this coming Saturday.

Cheers to all,

Re: The Landleaguers: Editions

When we decided to read An Eye for an Eye and The Landleaguers after finishing The Kellys and O'Kellys and Castle Richmond, I posted a list of editions of The Landleaguers. That was in October and I hope everyone who intended to read has long since gotten a copy of the book. If not, you've got 2 weeks. I here re-post a part of that October posting:

The Landleaguers:

This is Trollope's posthumous book, and it's not even polished and revised for publication. There is one long chapters on "The State of Ireland" which is fascinating from the point of view of seeing how he really thought out his situations in political and economic terms first (by writing); but such a straight piece of history would have been revised into dramatic narrative with meditations had Trollope lived. So you would expect few editions.

However, it is a very strong book, and has recently gotten attention because of its perceptive treatment of non-state 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. The Landleaguers makes a good comparison with The Macdermots where we have the story of a young man probably unjustly convicted of murder because the community, fearful, wants a scapegoat. Maybe we should not be surprized there are a number of editions of The Landleaguers available.

Like An Eye for an Eye. (also a relatively unknown late Anglo-Irish book), The Landleaguers has had 7 editions in the last 30 years.

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, Ellen

From the previous year:

To Trollope-l

October 29, 2001

Re: The Landleaguers and Civil War/Terrorism

I am this morning reading a cogent and persuasive analysis of the specific real world group dynamics that make up what people call a civil war, one of whose most common "weapons" is local violence and the "big indiscriminate counterattack" which makes a big splash in the media of the given era. It is written in plain common sense English and may be found in the October 29, 2001 issue of the New Yorker: Nicholas Lemann's "Letter from Washington", pp. 36-41. I don't have time this morning to summarize it, but shall tuck it away for early January. Why then? It reads like a startingly apt group of inferences one could take from Trollope's description of the Irish civil war and insurgency in The Landleaguers. As we all know one of Trollope's great strengths is his understanding of social psychology, of how people behave and think in response to one another. He seems to be able to set aside conventional paradigms and explanations once he sets himself to imagining and enacting a situation he has thoroughly "got up" in all its intricate nuanced and solid practical details. I am really astonished at how in this his last novel, Trollope provides solid evidence for Lemann's analysis of the way a civil war/terrorist group operates and by extension how to try to deal with the phenomenon.

I'll offer the idea that Trollope's late novellas, Kept in the Dark, Cousin Henry and about 3/4s of Dr Wortle's School, The Fixed Period and The Landleaguers all show him uncannily either simply dealing with issues that are of frank concern to us today and weren't mentioned in the mid-Victorian era (Dr Wortle's School), dealing with them in ways that look forward to early 20th century writers (Kept in the Dark, Cousin Henry, The Landleaguers) or dealing with them through harsh classical satire (The Fixed Period). He made no money on these late books: indeed he urges his imagined readers to put Dr Wortley's School down if they think they will be offended by a story about a couple who live together without a valid marriage certificate; his Kept in the Dark, a study of intense sexual possessiveness, and Cousin Henry, a candidate for a Kafka novel, are ill understood. The Fixed Period and The Landleaguers remain unknown outside scholars and dedicated readers of Trollope.

Cheers to all,

Contact Ellen Moody.
Pagemaster: Jim Moody.
Page Last Updated 11 January 2003