Anticipatory; In Defense of Thomas Hardy; Last Chronicle of Barset: The Cathartic Experience; The Sentimental; Artistic Episodes in Trollope; The Reappearance of the Lily and Crosby Plot

To Trollope-l

Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 07:38:23
Subject: [trollope-l] Last Chronicle of Barset, Chs 23-27: Anticipatory

Here are a few brief notes on the chapters for next week:

Instalment 9:

Chapter 23 opens with a superlong sentence on the delivery of letters to people's houses. Trollope as Postman is ever aware that letters do not magically appear on breakfast tables.

Chapter 24 begins with another superlong sentence. Trollope introduces a wholly new subplot. The question is, Why? Hadn't he enough material? How does this story parallel the others? Does it work for everyone, or does it seem alien material, particularly in mood. It looks ahead to the subplots of the Pallisers, especially the mean-spirited one in The Eustace Diamonds (Mrs Carbuncle and Lord Geprge de Bruce Carruthers and poor Lucinda). Or does it bring into play the harsh city sophisticated world which is real and going on and thus interlace into otherwise nostalgic material some hard reality of the day. The check can be related to bankruptcies . . .

Instalment 10:

Chapter 25: The brief sharp rejoinder of a sentence recalls the opening sentence of the whole of The Small House. Now that Trollope set the Dobbs Brougton material up at the end of the last instalment, he can begin 'in medias res' sharply in the manner of the The Small House (already set up as a Barsetshire book; hmmmm, maybe RJ is right ...).

Chapter 26: Another superlong sentence to bring into play yet another new important character, the artist. It's worth thinking about Trollope's portrayal of an artist's business as we are going to read _Ayala_ next.

Chapter 27: Back to Barsetshire country and stories and characters. John Eames and Major Grantly meet up; Trollope now intertwines his interlace (Barsetshire subplots) more intricately by having characters from different ones meet on the train, again a use of railways which are large anonymous places where you come up against all sorts of people, and unexpectedly.

Ellen Moody

Several people had written postings about how they disliked Thomas Hardy's books because they are "so depressing."

To Trollope-l

July 26, 2000

Subject: [trollope-l] In Defense of Thomas Hardy

Partly because we had such an engaging good series of discussions on this last last fall I rise in defense of Thomas Hardy. I remain grateful to Duffy Pratt for persisting to nominate and second a Hardy book, and to Sig for getting all enthusiastic. Unfortunately the two times I had read Hardy before were at a time or in a context which did not lead me to become deeply engaged in his books. The first time was when I was in high school; the teacher seemed to know very little about the subject matter or character types in the book; I was 15, too young. The second time was in college, and the professor disliked Tess of the D'Urbervilles, partly because he was irritated at the popularity of Hardy as opposed to Meredith (who he maintained is so much more adult, especially when it comes to a sensitive detailed depiction of sexual experience as it impinges on social life). He disliked the cult of Hardy -- there is one, as there is for Austen and has been for Trollope, a similarly false romanticising, though for each novelist it has emerged on different grounds. The professor maintained Hardy was crude; his atheism was not well-thought out, a contradictory thing when you looked at the pandering providential plot endings of some of the novels. Then since I have only read feminist texts on Tess which argue vociferously that Tess was raped; to me what is remarkable about Hardy's text is that the seduction scene has the deep ambiguity of much human experience: she is both coerced and willing.

During our group read: I, of course, read . I was so startled by its relentlessness and truth to life from the point of view of the poor and struggling and middling types of the period (left out of Trollope), that I went on to read Jude the Obscure. This is one of the great novels of the 19th century. Everyone who participated will remember how deeply involved we all became in the discussions of these two novels. It's in the archives.

I also listened to Alan Rickman read aloud The Return of the Native. This book is sheer poetry, with brilliant passages of adult reflection on life and visualisations of the countryside and ancient ritual which are vital today. I believe Angela and others talked of their experience of this book.

The opposition set up by Rory between enjoyment and harrowing is false. What some call harrowing others call deeply engaging, involving. I would say that for some the story of Lily disturbs because it moves our emotions and thoughts on a deep level and makes us move outside pigeonholes to sympathise with the vulnerable in retreat, deeply hurt, for Lily is deeply hurt, though she struggles hard and makes it back to sanity. She is now again under threat -- not from Crosbie any more, but from her memories of what he was, or maybe her illusions about him, her enthrallment which still grips her.

I find all this deeply enjoyable -- as I found Jude the Obscure the most deeply enjoyable book I read that fall. Insofar as Trollope works on this level, I enjoy his books because I live in and through them and my experience of them impinges on my view of life, deepens it, stretches my experience. Hardy stretches my experience into areas I have not literally known because my personality type and life experiences have been somewhat different from those of his characters. I am no Sue Bridesman or Jude. But I have known analogous experiences and in my mind and heart I can see what is on the page is real feeling. He -- and Trollope at his best -- dramatises fully significant textures of our real experiences (dreams, real acts in private, real thoughts we have) which we keep hidden in our embarrassed lives, and are sometimes ashamed of and made to feel inferior for.

It's uplifting, therapeutic, good for us to see such things put there in public to see others feel and know the same. Thus we are strengthened. You emerge having had your emotions deeply worked, and you are refreshed, strengthened. This is what Wordsworth tried to say when he redefined the function of poetry in our lives from what it had been in the 18th century.

What I can't enjoy is the sentimental because it seems to me an avoidance of experience which tells us lies that make us feel worse about ourselves. It sets up false expectations, false emotions we are told we ought to feel, or long for, things that never were. So it represses and twists us once again. Thus the ending of The Small House was deeply pleasurable to me because it was so deeply engaging, instructive, true, full; the ending of Can You Forgive Her? is a sentimental travesty which denies much that has gone before in the book; it irritates me. I can't enjoy it. In fact it almost spoils the book for me. I know some do enjoy this sort of thing of course and because I don't enjoy it I can't say it's not enjoyable for others. As there is no opposition between what can be called harrowing and enjoyment, so there is none between the sentimental and enjoyment. The sentimental sells very well and can be found in many great books too: take Uncle Tom's Cabin for a starter. For my part I only care for the book in those parts where it is deeply involving, harrowing if you will, the escape sequences, Simon Legre, the deaths, the concubinage, the scenes in Louisiana and the intelligent white hero whose daughter dies and whose name escapes me.

I also am simply bored by the superficial. I like comedy, really funny, robustly funny books. Trollope can be robustly funny. He has something of Fielding in his art; his irony is that of the sane debunker. I am a real Swift fan; his dark humor amuses me intensely. Again others might not enjoy this; I do.

As I recall a number of people made interesting connections between Trollope and Hardy -- and Gissing whom we had read the fall before. I forget who wrote this, maybe it was Sig (?), but someone pointed out how alike Trollope and Hardy are in a number of emotional ways, how the texts are hard and true to life. Trollope just keeps up with the well-heeled and Hardy brings us to those on the edge who can and do fall off. Of course characters in Trollope fall off the edge of society too -- and there are a number of suicides and hard-won personal wins through failure. I'm one who sees strong connections between Gissing and Trollope. John Halperin has written on them both. To turn back to Hardy, Kishor Kale has recommended another set of stories we didn't get to in our group time. Hardy wrote good short stories; I recommend Life's LIttle Ironies whose title has become proverbial. A good book on Hardy is that edited by Margaret Drabble, The Genius of Thomas Hardy. This has illuminating photographs (with Hardy we enter the age of photographs), and a number of good essays on his life and the novels, especially Elizabeth Hardwick's on the women in Jude the Obscure.

And of course there's Hardy's great poetry. He did stop writing novels not because his weren't selling but because he detested the reviewer's conventional diatribes and the kind of cant his novels provoked from those who would repress the hard truths about our inner lives, deny them. So he turned wholly to poetry and after all some stretches in all his novels are not dramatic but lyrical. During our group read a few people went to the trouble of typing some of these; they are readily available in paperbacks today. Some of the poems typed out are in our archives.

So I learned the professor was wrong. Hardy is deeply pleasurable, and because there are so many people who may buy his books and sentimentalise them, does not mean his texts are any different or have been hurt by such reading. It's important to remember this. The cult of the author does not hurt his texts or work, nor does any talk against him when the texts are good and living.

I never did get to see the movie of Far from the Madding Crowd with Julie Christie. I have always loved the phrase, 'far from the madding crowd'.

I particularly recommend Jude the Obscure. It is bad-mouthed by readers who talk in ugly ways about the hero. My view is they are afraid of those impulses in him which they may have so decry him, castigate him and 'weaklings' lest anyone think they could possibly be that way. Although in personality type and circumstances I am not at all like Sue Brideshead, when I read her story I thought there but for the grace of Lady Luck go I.

Cheers to all,
Ellen Moody

Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 12:40:13 -0500
Subject: [trollope-l] In Defense of Thomas Hardy

Thank you, Ellen, for this thought-provoking post. I know you have discussed this before, but I wonder if you could write a little more about sentimentality -- as though you were lecturing on the first day of Sentimentality 101. My very best teacher in graduate school held forth similarly on the subject, but although I hung on her every word, I never felt I understood this subject completely. I easily get emotionally involved in my reading and perhaps have a hard time distinguishing between the true and the sentimental. This is complicated by the fact that, unless one reads only trash, most novels are not 100% sentimental or 100% true emotionally. Does true feeling shade into the sentimental, or is there always a clear distinction?

I wonder, also, (since we are thinking about Hardy) if there is a different term (different from "sentimental") to apply to the kind of harrowing experiences we might find in Hardy if Hardy were a lesser writer. Would I be able to distinguish true from false emotions (if there are any) in Hardy? (I remember once reading Jude the Obscure specifically because I was in the mood to wallow in the gloom. Here I guess that if there were false emotions involved they were mine rather than Hardy's, but nonetheless the reading was a cathartic experience.)

Wayne Gisslen

Re: The Last Chronicle, Chs 23-27: Cathartic Experience (I)

I thought I'd answer Wayne's intriguing post in which he (in effect) asked what was the difference between what is sentimental and false and what harrowing and strengthening because true by focusing on this week's chapters. We have before us 5 chapters rooted in universal instinctive emotions as Trollope lives them out through his imaginative dramatic identification with the perceived presences of his daydreams (which go by the name of the characters of a novel). These emotions he dramatises and analyses as they emerge in social scenes (e.g., Mrs Dobbs Broughton's Dinner Party) and in private conferences (Lily and her mother talking alone) and in meditations upon memories and or some immediate impetus (Crosbie's letter, the kind of cutting remarks the characters make to one another in less dangerous or less publicly social scenes, e.g., Conway Dalrymple talking to Mrs Broughton in front of Clara Van Siever). In all these Trollope invents and elaborates upon intensely apprehended emotions which lead to actions and words; he describes the actions and words as his way of allowing us to feel the emotions. It is this nervous (using the word in the older 18th century sense) interplay that makes his text still alive and so vivid. The mark of a minor writer is the faded nature of the text; Trollope's texts leap out at you with their tones. He also really apprehends in detail, really vividly preternaturally sees his landscapes and rooms as he jots down salient details of them. In one of his letters he tells his niece that italics are the mark of imbecility -- one he never needed as his pen raced to put down and orders his streams of reveries for us.

It was no coincidence that I instanced Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin as a highly sentimental text which nonetheless has an enormous emotive power. Lincoln was not so ironic when he told her that she was the little lady who started this big war -- which freed the slaves. It and Richard Wright's Native Son are the two texts James Baldwin uses when he defines sentimentality. What is its mark? Why is Uncle Tom sentimental and Jude tragically cathartic? Baldwin says the key to the sentimental is simplification. The sentimental always simplifies. Thus Simon Legree is an ogre; Uncle Tom is supergood: 'utterly trustworthy, selfless, sexless'. In Wright's Native Son, the black people are all heroes of virtue or victims not a bit responsible for what is happening to them; the white are all fiends. Within these words there are many varieties (of say, sexlessness or fiendishness), but the paradigm here is one of simplification. The writer evades the criss-cross of the selfish, the sordid, and especially the mean and petty which goes on in our minds all the time. As Trollope opens his An Autobiography, the first thing he says is the form cannot be wholly truthful, for who would tell of the mean-minded nature of many of our impulses and words? The sentimental denies complexity. It turns things into cartoons; I would say some of what has been said about Ruskin (since he has come up on this list now) is a variant on the cartoon. To get a grasp on something of what happened between him and his wife I recommend A. S. Byatt's Possession where she dramatizes the reality of what can happen between people in private sexually or what cannot happen because of all sorts of alienating fears and traumas and simple incompatibility of temperaments.

Baldwin sees this ploy as coming out of two desires: on the one hand, people want to evade what is impossible to resolve; they don't want to see themselves as complicit in that which harms one another and cannot be avoided. They don't want to see an undercurrent, another very different interpretation of something which shows moral codes to be irrelevant. Now my examples will be drawn from Trollope's Last Chronicle not Hardy or Stowe as these are not texts we can remember right now. I would say Lily's scene with her mother is not sentimental. The whole of the Lily story is often implicitly accused of sentimentality, especially when the word cloying turns up. That's because people turn away from the precision of Trollope's text which suggests a complexity of interpretations.

One small moment. Why does Lily decide not to resume her engagement to Crosbie? She brings it out when her mother voices the essential taunt:

'Perhaps he thinks he is offering a remedy for your misery.'

As this was said Lily turned round slowly and looked up into her mother's face. 'Mamma', she said, 'that is very cruel. I did not think you could be so cruel ...' (Houghton Mifflin The Last Chronicle, ed AMizener, Ch 23, p. 184).

As the conversation develops, we are told by Trollope through Lily's words that what is cruel here is the mother's understanding that if Lily returns to Crosbie, she must lose value and respect in his eyes. He would see her weakness: he would see she needed him so much that she was willing to show all the world he could treat her like some sort of dog and she would take it, and forgive. Being human, as the marriage progressed, he would take advantage of this knowledge he had gained about how much she meant to him. You must never show another individual he or she means more to you than both of you know you have meant to him or her; that you are willing to be humiliated in public in the way Lily has in her culture (she also had sex with Crosbie let us recall). Here is just a bit of her meditation:

'He would condemn me because I had forgiven him. He would condemn me because I had borne what he had done to me, and had still loved him -- loved him through it all. He would feel and know the weakness; -- and there is weakness. I have been weak in not being able to rid myself of him altogether He would recognize this after awhile, and espise me for it ... I should have to bear his [taunts] also, -- not spoken aloud, but to be seen in his face, and heard in his voice, -- and that I could not endure (p. 185).

In The Small House of Allington, the word that rings repeatedly in Trollope's narrator's language about Crosbie in the early chapters of the book is 'ungenerous.' Crosbie is 'ungenerous' we are told again and again, and we see how immediately upon their sexual trysts being over, he values Lily less -- and makes her feel it. Trollope hopes we remember this. If not we have Lily's mother to remind her and us;

'when a horse [meaning by metaphor Crosbie] kicks and bites, you know his nature and do not go near him. When a man has cheated you once, you think he will cheat you again, and you do not deal with him (p. 185).

He provides us with Crosbie's letter which Mrs Dale is accurate to say 'tells badly on the man' (p. 180). The second and third paragraph are self-serving in places they should not be; he is the weasel who regrets deeply he has not gained all the prizes he meant to gain. That he has the nerve to say in the letter he loved Lily all the while marrying the other woman suggests he is unashamed. It is a highly complex letter which also makes us sympathetic towards Crosbie, but in the assumption remarks such as these will make his case with Lily it tells very badly. He also treats Lily as an object, and is self-justifying towards the end where it ought to make some reference to what Lily would know in revealing to the world how she has felt. He cares not.

There is, though, a problem with this kind of analysis. There are minds which cannot feel certain kinds of sensitive emotions; they can't imagine being anything but themselves. Thus what is outside their experience and feels painful, they deny and bad-mouth. To call something sentimental is a good a bad- mouthing word as any. The key is to keep away from yourself any imputation of such emotions which might make you less respectable to people in society where hardness and coarseness reigns supreme in gaining dominant advantage -- as most people are this way. Those who cannot imagine that someone can love so abjectly, especially that it could be themselves so in need, turn away. Note how all this escapes any moral codes whatsoever. There is no good nor evil here: there is only human nature. To return to Baldwin, he says the sentimentalist wants to believe there are people whose hands are clean, who have nothing to gain, who act altruistically out of strength all the time. But 'the battle is in ourselves' where 'we betray ourselves by greed, by gult, by blood lust'.

Baldwin's attack on the sentimental is an aspect of his attack on the social protest novel. It is often justified by social reformers as that which makes the world better. We are better off having characters who are all good if that is what moves people to do or to be good. He denies these paradigms of purity do move any readers to do anything good.

I will divide this posting here, and continue with the second 'mark' of the sentimental in a second post under the same heading.


Re: The Last Chronicle, Chs 23-27: Cathartic Experience (II)

The second desire to simplify comes out of need to believe other people really love us or will obey morality. Baldwin demonstrates this is seen in texts which have excessive emotionalisms. I would say the talk between Lily and her mother is utterly restrained, quiet, understated. In fact one reason great writers are misunderstood is readers can easily ignore what is presented subtly. My quotation has brought out the vivid seam in the realistically dramatized scene. There are no tears in the chapter, no wailing, no loud cries. So the second mark of the sentimental is 'the ostentatious parading of excessive and spurious emotion'. This does happen in Trollope: we have scenes where mothers and daughters weep over one another. Trollope does participate in sentimentalising the bourgeois prize virgin. We see strains of this in the depiction of Grace who kneels, weeps; her attitude towards Grantly is also simplified repeatedly (as when we are told of her attitudes towards his daughter as a central explanation for her wanting to marry him and be his wife). Baldwin argues that this ostentatious emotion is, paradoxically, the 'mark of dishonesty, the inability to feel: the wet eyes of the sentimentalist betray his aversion to experience, his fear of life', its hardness and the arid minds around him, their ability to ignore the drama and pathos of everyone but themselves.

Here I'll instance the whole of the portrayal of Johnny Eames. He is hurting just as much as Lily, perhaps more. And he does not move away from experience. What is remarkable about him is how he gingerly courts it. This is part of a realistic portrayal of a personality type. The whole of his behavior at the Dobbs Brougton Party is brilliantly presented. He can banter, quiz, say the opposite of what he is really feeling or thinking, or imply what he is thinking for real (that he hates Crosbie and is deeply upset by Crosbie's presence) or say the kinds of truths people do say through jest ('When I see women kiss, I always think that there is deep hatred at the bottom of it'); he is at once the utter disillusioned cynic (he sees Miss Desmoulins for what she is while wanting what is called fun by human beings with her -- the challenge, the triumph) and the person who accepts humanity for what it is. I should say this scene which is structured upon Johnny as the central presence and his trajectory of responses is brilliant in its presentation of group scenes and the movement of individuals, and in the narrator's grasp of everyone's complex behavior, from the pettinesses of rank to Crosbie's really decent attempt to shake hands with Johnny (of course this is criss-crossed by our understanding that he can behave this way because he doesn't feel deeply about what has happened as Johnny does). The story of Johnny Eames is a triumph of distancing -- as is in its way, that of the Rev Crawley for Trollope keeps up a shaping which allows us to criticise and see Crawley as the cause of at least the intensity of his misery as well as his isolation which has after all led to his not getting on in the world.

Again the analysis depends on a given reader's ability to enter into Trollope's words with the depth of apprehension Trollope asks of us -- his own. He is capacious.

I don't think we wallow in excessive gloom when we read Hardy -- or Gissing. The fact is life has real terrors and some of these come out of ourselves and our need for and use of others. Those who want to turn away always have the curious upper hand which comes from the appeal to keep a face up to meet the faces you meet. In the always reproachful plea for a sense of proportion is couched a challenge to us (which we fear to take) to show to others the hidden embarrassments of our lives. This hidden challenge -- or taunt -- always goes with a determined apologetics for things as they are. The story of Lily Dale is a social protest against things as they are. Shall we leave ruling standards which allow a perfectly comfortable niche for detestable people, in fact allow them to become dominant because they are more ruthless? (As Crosbie is; as Mrs Van Sievers is; as Madalina and Mr and Mrs Dobbs Broughton are not, as we shall learn.) This argument leaves us open to the timelessly vulgar and philistine hoar hoar poor Ruskin fled from.

Better to keep the argument away from social protest as its foundation and root it in aesthetics. So we turn back to the Greeks, to Aristotle, who defended deep tragedy on the basis of catharsis and therapy and strengthening by sharing emotion and the education we get from extending our sympathy to others by learning to identify with them through analogy. Aristotle did formulate the problem the way it still exists: he asked, How is it we enjoy suffering? Is it that we love to watch Oedipus go down (do we triumph); is it that we are wallowing? He denied this by finding affirmation in the characters themselves whose inner life is given importance, ultimate value. It matters that Lily and Johnny are hurt. That's the affirmation. In the real world and to many it might not matter at all; in fact that's what is often said about Lily. None of it mattered. But they say it does and Trollope for hundreds of pages with them. When the individual suffers, a loss is felt. Again affirmation. There was something to lose here. Usually the character is associated with a group of virtues (cross-crossed by flaws); these virtues are kindsness, courteous, loyalty, all sorts of things we see in the Rev Crawley (though he is a maddened by this time), Lily, Johnny, Mr Harding, Lady Mason (I instance other characters of this kind). So when they have their little triumphs or simply survive (as most of Trollope's characters ) do, we feel cheered. We have friends in the world like us, who suffer like us, who managed. We are invited to laugh at them a little (particularly in characters like Mr Harding and Plantagenet Palliser who have their absurdities). We can't talk to them as they are fiction, but then they are better than nothing. There is much uplift here; it is the comedy of catharsis. Johnny does not give in any more than Lily; he has a fine intellect like her; they have loving friends beyond the amoral world's touch or appeal. I love how Trollope shows us Mrs Dale controls her tongue most of the time; how Mrs Dale sees how she could taunt Lily were she disposed to. Remember Lily does none harm; she simply asks to be left alone. Why this gets some readers is something not easy to discuss in public. I will confine myself to saying people resent those who get to be left alone. But there is desolation and expansion in all Trollope's novels, both. The note at the conclusion of the Palliser books which I referred to has this note of cheerlessness and intense cheer.

I would argue that Hardy has the same complexity, the same lack of ostentious spurious emotion, the same high seriousness of intent in his novels that we find in Trollope, Thackeray and the other great Victorian novelists and poets. To bring in Ruskin again (so as to include the other thread), they do lack his greatness of mind in some ways. His work stands on a plane with Carlyle as a thinker (in Ruskin's case about aesthetics; one could say the amoral and unacceptable is an aspect of aesthetics). Conroy Dalrymple is a vulgar type Trollope castigates and mocks false art though -- we should remember how much Trollope loved Millais and admired him, though he did not understand Ruskin or said Ruskin was too idealistic. (There is a review by Trollope of Ruskin's work, one which does not show Trollope in a pleasant or admirable light; he is the impatient man of appetites and realities Trollope, always). There needs no resort to talking of 20th century versus 19th century attitudes; there needs only compassion, sensitivity and respect.

I have gone on too long, but I have managed to bring in The Last Chronicle and tried to distinguish the sentimental from the tragic. Jude the Obscure is that unusual breed: a tragic novel. Another is Clarissa; another is The Macdermots of Ballycloran. This is not common in novels which are products which emerged from the marketplace of average readers looking for validation of themselves and their world and news they will get some reward for enduring life. So the catharsis of ironic comedy is preferred. The form itself rests on a display of all aspects of human nature. Even Candide may be said to have a sort of happy ending.

Cheers to all :),
Ellen Moody

PS: Anyone interested in the essays by Baldwin in which he defines the sentimental and excoriates it as against the tragic and yes the harrowing, can find them in Notes of a Native Son ('Everybody's Protest Novel', and 'Many Thousands Gone')

Date: Wed, 19 Jul 2000 23:58:30 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] Artistic episodes in Trollope

At 18:42 00\07\19, Thilde wrote:

The stories of the artist colonies in Rome would be great.

I have always felt that the Conway Dalrymple episodes in the Last Chronicle were introduced by Trollope as a safety net - something he could fall back on if all else failed. He was very friendly with WP Frith the artist (same club) and with Millais and his wife Effie (formerly Mrs Ruskin before the annulment). I am sure that man to man, if not en famille, stories were exchanged about other artists with more "irregular" private lives. I have just looked through the indices to several biographies of him, and do not find any mention of Rossetti, whose liaison with Janey Burden (Mrs William Morris) continued openly for some ten or so years. Janey is the peculiarly square jawed woman so often depicted in Preraphaelite works.

I am sorry that Trollope "wasted" the Conway Dalrymple episodes, as I feel they had more potential than he actually achieved with them. They had two possibilities - one a social bust up of Dobbs Broughton/Mrs Dobbs and Clara van Siever/Mrs van Siever; and secondly, the financial bust up of Dobbs Broughton, which actually took place, but which was very low key. I felt that he very much pulled his punches on both of these - they had the potential in either case to mushroom and dominate the story if he needed them to, but he didn't. Having just re-read it, even the involvement of Johnny with Madalina wasn't as dramatic (or as worrying for Johnny) as it might have been. Madalina really only serves one purpose - to add a little piece of information to Lily which she uses most unfairly. She judges Johnny by one set of standards, and herself by another set.

On the subject of Ruskin and Effie Gray: I looked that up quickly the other night and found as follows: Ruskin married Effie Gray, and the marriage was annulled after some years on the grounds of non-consummation. (An art historian friend suggests that Ruskin had what would today be called strong paedophilic tendencies, and went off young women when their figures developed). Almost immediately she married Millais, producing 8 children in due course, so she was certainly in good working order. After a gap of (I think) about 10 years, Ruskin fell for Rose La Touche, daughter of an Irish banking family, whom I understand to have been young - late teens, I think (no details in front of me). Her parents were very concerned and asked Effie Millais, his ex wife, about him. Her reply was described in what I read as "little more than advanced character assassination", but the marriage went ahead in spite of this reference. After the marriage Rose became mentally unstable and within about 8 years after the marriage had a complete mental breakdown, and I think died in an asylum. So I'm not sure but that Effie Millais had the right of it.

In any case, there were certainly plenty of examples of artistic profligacy on which Trollope could draw; I'm sorry that he didn't do so to greater effect than in Last Chronicle. In Barchester Towers and in Alaya the artistic side of things is not very relevant - it gives Bertie Stanhope a way of squandering money - he could as easily lose it at cards/horses - and Lucien Hamel has an uncertain income from it, which he could have had equally well by being a struggling barrister.

Rory O'Farrell Email:

Date: Wed, 26 Jul 2000 07:08:44 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] The Reappearance of the Lily and Crosby Plot

Not having read The Last Chronicle before, I was quite amazed to see the Lily /Crosby plot reappear. What I did like was the way in which we are presented Crosby again. The letter and the discussion between mother and daughter bring the younger Crosby to mind as if time had not passed or taken its toll. Then we actually see him through the eyes of John Eames and time has not been kind. Crosby's action, of coming forward to shake Eames hand, surprised me and I felt Trollope wanted the reader to admire that moment. As to Lily's decision - it shows again the extent of the damage done which nothing can undo.


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