Date: Sun, 6 Aug 2000 10:49:29 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] Wimpy men and Masochistic Women
One of the reasons I've gone over the edge about the proposed (no! don't do it!) reading of the Palliser novels is that Alice Vavasor almost turned me away from Trollope for ever. I read Can You Forgive Her? as a sprightly young feminist in the 1970's (I was in my 20's then.) Aieeee! Alice, why are you acting like a punching bag! I almost agree with Henry James who allegedly said - "Yes, we can forgive her and forget her too." John Grey seems like a total wimp. Trollope has a habit of writing male characters who are wimps. I am being driven to distraction by Major Grantly. Where is his spine? He is taking an allowance from his father and living off the photons of not one but two ex-wives.( If I were Grace Crawley, I'd be worried about that track record. The grim reaper follows Major Grantly's wives as the night follows the day.) I agree with Major Grantly's sister Griselda - cut him off. (OK, I'm exaggerating.) I must go and sign up for a yoga class and a class in Transcendental Mediation, lose 20 pounds, cut out all sodium from my diet &c &c &c. in order to deal with the upcoming Alice Vavasor stress attack. Ommmmmm.
From R. J. Keefe:
Subject: [trollope-l] _The Last Chronicle of Barset_, Chs 28-32: Shame and Status in The Last Chronicle (Was "Two Somewhat Contradictory Stories ...)
Thanks to Ellen Moody for calling attention to Trollope's ambivalence about shame and status in The Last Chronicle of Barset. Like Catherine Crean, I find Mr Crawley almost impossible to take, even at his most majestically Johnsonian. The famous Bishop-crushing scene is one of the most breathtaking in Trollope, but it left me with a nasty taste, because Mr Crawley's objection to Mrs Proudie's interference has much less to do with her character as a virago than with his patriarchal outlook, according to which a woman, any woman, is ipso facto incompetent to speak on church matters. That's why he snubs her instead of arguing. Mr Crawley represents a past that I'm glad is past.
And then there is his depression. There hasn't been much discussion of this, and perhaps it's not a useful topic. But as a reader who has been exposed to fairly serious depression in the family, I don't find reading about someone subject to Mr Crawley's black spells at all agreeable or enlightening. I suspect, moreover, that were he with us now he would refuse to take the prescribed medication. Mr Crawley is altogether an anti-social character, and what he's doing in the ministry is more than I can fathom.
Grace Crawley's pallor seems to me to be the inevitable consequence of living in a household dominated by such a disorder. How can she permit herself to be happy, when her father is so wretched? I don't regard this as a 'Victorian' question at all, or in any way sentimental. Indeed, I sense - again, I think, because of personal experience that has taught me things I'd be happier not knowing - an almost hygienic determination in Grace's refusal to accept the Major. His interest in her, I'll agree, stands unsupported, because we haven't seen what Grace was like when the Major met her at Framley; we haven't seen her bloom receptively. But Grace's sad lot, so contingent upon her father's, strikes a chord in me.
From Catherine Crean
August 7, 2000:
Subject: [trollope-l] Rev Crawley Crushing the Bishop.
Regarding R J Keefe's post on the scene where Crawley "crushes" the bishop - I'm glad you brought up the subject of depression. Trollope's father undoubtedly had serious, serious emotional problems. He was monomaniacal. paranoid, at times lethargic, at others hyperactive, he had severe headaches, and heaven only knows what else. Perhaps the hardest part about living with a person who is this ill, is the never-ending dread about what is coming next. Someone is knocking at the door? Will father be OK, or will he be ranting and raving? There are bills to pay and we have no food. Will father do something to help us? Father is talking about "the bare bodkin" again. Will he be with us tomorrow? Trollope is a stunning example of someone who not only overcame a harsh, unhappy, insecure childhood - he rose above adversity without becoming stunted and embittered. It is a mark of pure genius to create a character like Reverend Crawley without bathos, melodrama, condescension or worse, romanticizing. Having a depressed person in the family (or being a depressed person yourself) can wound in unimaginable ways. I see Trollope's creation of Rev. Crawley as a stunning affirmation of life. Somehow, some way the Crawley family lives through the dark night and into another day. I love the section where Mrs. Crawley , standing in the next room out of sight, listens to her husband reading Seven Against Thebes (in Greek) to young Jane. Rev. Crawley is temporarily revivified by thoughts of crushing the bishop, and he reads with vigor. What a man! Whether Crawley is reading Greek or excoriating his enemies he has the power to live con gusto , in a perverse sort of way. It takes talent to create a character like this, and superb insight to show that even a crazy man has his pleasures - crushing bishops being among them. In a bizarre way, living with this kind of person can be exciting, because one is on a roller coaster all the time. This is a reality that few people notice, much less write about. There is a saying - "To understand all is to forgive all." Trollope exceeds even this. He appreciates his father. The most amazing thing about Rev Crawley is that after a while we appreciate him too.
Subject: [trollope-l] Rev Crawley crushing the bishop.
Catherine's posting is very much on the mark, a picture of what life is like for the family of someone who is mentally disturbed (or an alcoholic, for that matter). Elliot Engle is fond of using the word "feckless"; he has a theory that one important element in the formation of a great male writer is having a feckless father. This is true for Dickens, Trollope, Melville, and others who I have temporarily forgotten. I would add Frank McCourt to that list. I believe the list also included Shakespeare. He also feels that children of great male writers were often feckless as well! Pat
August 8, 2000
Re: The Last Chronicle, Chs 34-38: Hook Court, Sleazy Money & Near Sex
As ever I am sympathetic to the underdog, for although we may say the Rev Crawley has become unhinged, is paranoic, depressed, grief-striken, and angry, Trollope gives him good cause for being so. For about 4 long books we have been offered a history in which the man has known humilation, slight, been expected to live like an respectable gentleman, but been given less to live on than his butcher; his supremely intelligent, sensitive character has been as nothing to everyone he has met, not worth anything in this world as it is not backed up with an income; his profession is not one much respected, especially as he is a perpetual curate. That in itself is a laugh, a mock. Tonight I was reading a couple of papers by Freud; it is almost astonishing how closely Trollope character, the Rev Crawley, exemplifies the intense state of mind Freud explores in his 'Mourning and Melacholia', and in a couple of appendices on grief, social humiliations, and paranoia. Freud cites Hamlet, though he concedes Hamlet doesn't quite fit the case he lays out with compassion and austerity. Trollope's Rev Crawley does. They say the poets teach the us deep truths about ourselves which our psychologists then give abstract formulations for.
As I am only repeating Catherine's generous insightful response in another fashion. So let me cast aside the moralising, and instead turn to the nitty-gritty of money. We have in these chapters more on paper money, more on the modern ways in which people make profits through playing games with the way paper can pass from hand to hand. I suggest the chapter on Hook Court and Trollope's depiction of Mr Musselboro and Mr Dobbs Broughton's ways of seeming to be rich are set up as parallel to the Rev Crawley. The ironic point seems to be that what in Crawley's case his society has decided is a crime for which they will publicly prosecute him, will take away his salary, and perhaps throw him in prison in Mr Dobbs Broughton's and Mr Musselboro's cases are just fine. After all they provide that needed liquidity which the bourgeois swim in. Let us recall that the De Courcys never pay their bills until they are driven to and sometimes not then either. Crawley couldn't keep his mind on where the paper in his wallet came from; that's his crime; Dobbs Broughton and Musselboro count on others not paying much attention to where the paper is coming from in each 2 week period of the money year called an account. For this they have an office, one man has gotten himself a seat on the stock exchange and the other gets to lend Mrs Van Siever's money at high rates of interest.
Handy dandy, what kind of society is this anyway? In all his novels Trollope takes a dim view of buying and selling stocks when there are no goods, no production, no services, when it's all based on mirrors, phony pretenses and playing games with time. Old-fashioned? Yes.
I will offer the following general summary of how Dobbs Broughton and Musselboro manage to cream off some money from the exchange of stocks every two weeks. It may be wrong in some particulars, but in general it's how it's done. And it's -- from Trollope's point of view -- sleazy.
Apparently in the 19th century the year was divided into 26 two week periods called accounts. What people who played money games had to do was settle all debts and take whatever was left over or pay out the Tuesday following the closing of one of these 2 week accounts. The goal for Musselboro and Dobbs Broughton is to within the 2 week period buy and sell exactly the same amount of stocks; the aim was for the purchases and sales to cancel out; any difference in price was their profit. Trollope says they are not stockbrokers: they do not ever own any stocks themselves legally. At the end of each period they have gotten rid of them. They don't take possession or deliver stocks. I have been told that there is a person who does this today on the Stock Exchange -- but he has to do it within a 24 hour period. He's called a Day Trader. Of course on top of this business of theirs they are lending out Mrs Van Siever's money at high rates of interest. She wouldn't want the percentage she would get the safe way from the funds.
The chapter called Hook Court is drenched in ironies in the text itself. But the function of the chapter is to show up how the Rev Crawley's 'crime' fits into this world. The man may be paranoid, he may be a deeply sickened soul, but he has cause for his rage, indignation and pride. He has lived a life of rare integrity, has given all of himself he could to all he met. But he goes to jail Not that Dobbs Broughton and Musselboro are living very comfortable pleasant lives as Trollope depicts these. We should remember however that many a person in Trollope's society would have hungered for an invitation to Mrs Dobbs Broughton's party; that Musselboro could marry the rich woman's daughter.
My only regret over these chapters is that Trollope has to pull his punches. Were the book written in 1966 instead of 1866 Mrs Dobbs Broughton would be openly having an affair with Conway Dalrymple. Not that she'd be in love with him. It'd be the same casual way of getting some excitement that we see motivates her sitting for a picture. Trollope tries to hint to us in the story of the painting of the _Three Graces_ that perhaps, who knows, what happened between Dalrymple and Maria Clutterbuck. But he draws back and says no, she is chaste bodily In 1966 she would also have been working at getting him the wealthy wife, perhaps also a good art dealer, a promotional show. In 1866 Trollope can talk a lot more truthfully about money than he can about sex..
August 10, 2000
Re: Last Chronicle, Chs 34-38: Idols of the Marketplace
I can't prove it right now, but I would have a hard time believing that Trollope didn't read Bacon. When Trollope was young, he projected an enormous study of literature which would emerge into a multivolume series and then sat himself down and began to read. The tomes are impressive: philosophical essays are among them. When we discuss novels we all too often compare them simply to other novels of the period, and Trollope is among those whose reading is highly varied, wide, and deep. He seems to have especially liked old English plays (from the Renaissance throuugh the 18th century), read Locke, many of the 18th century poets and novelists (in The Vicar of Bullhampton the heroine's Aunt Marrable is a great fan of Swift, Johnson, Pope and Dryden).
Basically as usual RJ and I are in agreement; it seems to me a matter of different terminology. A key point for both of us was stated by him when he wrote:
'We will probably all agree that [Rev Mr Crawley] ought to have money -- income -- instead of credit. He ought to have been better paid. But the foolishness that made credit available to him is the very same foolishness that Dobbs Broughton and Musselboro prey on.'
Maybe I'm not quite with him on the idea that credit should not have been made available to Crawley in the sense that had it not he would have starved. In fact, perhaps the church at the time was depending upon and therefore abusing credit as much as the de Courcys, Melmottes and his hangers-on, the individuals we meet in The Struggles of Brown, Jones and Robinson and all the people who were gulled into giving over sums of money for 'investment'. It's an irony that government subsidies have repeated 'saved' capitalism from major overhaul during times of depression. Had not there been this swish of credit in Crawley's time, maybe the church could not have got away with giving people like Grantly an income of something like £1400 a year (this is A Mizener's calculation in his appendix to his edition of The Last Chronicle) so that little was left over for the multiples of curates who did the work. Among the more radical of the French during the revolution were the curate-types of the French church.
Still however we look at it, we can see that this is a book which does not just present a study of man twisted and nearly destroyed by his interactions with others in mid-Victorian society, but a study of the society itself. Crawley's portrait is rightly admired by most people who read the book. Trollope was very proud of this character. Equally good is the analysis of society the unfolding of Crawley's story in the context of the other stories of the other characters in the book permits. Think of how much Conrad Dalrymple is paid for his nauseating flatteries of his sitters as Greek and Roman and Biblical mythical figures. Then think again of Crawley. It's as revealing as Crawley against those who exploit the use of paper money and credit, Dobbs Broughton, Mussy (good nickname) and Mrs Van Siever. Maybe this is why it's not so good to read the Barsetshire books in terms of one another sheerly. The Last Chronicle is not a complacent celebration of 'old green England'; it was written by the same man who wrote The Way We Live Now.
To answer just a piece of RJ's question on how many of us are experienced in credit. I don't know if we have any stockbrokers or bankers on our list. I suppose many here are like my husband and I: we borrowed to buy our house (have a mortgage); we have borrowed to buy cars; we use consumer credit as a regular thing to 'ease that cash-flow' so money is there in our checking account when we want it. RJ suggests that the people who offer credit cards first do background research on people. I agree, and we all know we have credit ratings. Still there is today something called 'predatory lending', and it is by no means against the law. Young people in colleges are targeted by credit card companies and they have no history of knowing how to cope with debt at all. Consumer credit cards have very high rates of interest ...
Modern variants on Dobbs Broughton and Musselboro are still with us, as are the people who aspire to go to Mrs Dobbs Broughton's party and in The Way We Live Now willing to give money to the Melmottes of the world..
Cheers to all,
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 06:28:24 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] Grace Crawley on the Marriage Market
Grace Crawley is an educated woman. She can read ancient Greek, for heaven's sake. She seems to be a lovely, compassionate person. I enjoy her scenes with Lily Dale. Grace, like her mother, has the power of endurance. As a life partner, she is not going to cave in when the going gets tough. What is she doing with a loser like Major Grantly? Everyone expects her to jump at her "chance" with Mr. Personality. (I'm sorry - _Major_ Personality. Now that's really a joke!) And little Edith is thrown into the package, as if Grace will be thrilled to raise another woman's child. I realize that Grace is poor, and she does not have an opportunity to meet eligible men, but Major Grantly is a poor specimen. He has money (if the Archdeacon doesn't cut him off) and he has family (including the snobby icemaiden Griselda) and he's a man. What else does he have going in his favor? Poor Grace! Can you imagine how Griselda will snub her? What is going on with Grace and Major Grantly? Is Trollope just plucking at the coverlet of invention? I'm sure I'm missing something and I look forward to becoming enlightened. After all, this is a novel, and Trollope could have created someone different for Grace. Why did Trollope make Major Grantly the way he is? I hate to think of Grace moving from the Miss Prettymans' to becoming housekeeper for Major Grantly and nursemaid for Edith. Don't forget, Grantly has been married TWICE before!
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 21:36:36
Subject: [trollope-l] Grace Crawley on the Marriage Market
Catherine makes a good point: what has Major Grantly going for him? Grace is intelligent, well-educated, sensitive, loyal, decent, enduring. The Major does nothing that we can see but hunt and visit other gentlefolk; he appears to have no special talents at all, no interests; he looks upon her as a naive girl -- as do Mrs Dale and Lily, naive sexually of course. Catherine's posting made me think of Lady Anna and a couple of other novels where Trollope says very sarcastically of a heroine who within her has all the gifts for making and giving happiness, but 'she has nothing to offer'. Nothing meaning money, rank, connections. In these passages Trollope means she really has everything that should count.
The failure in this book is that Trollope has no such ironic passages. We are to accept the idea that Major Grantly is Nobility itself because he deigns to keep his promised engagement. Earlier in our read I suggested the presentation of the characters who belong to Framley Parsonage and Chaldicotes as filled with flat, stereotypical and predictable spots. In The Last Chronicle Trollope nods in a number of places.
Cheers to all,
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 09:03:19
Subject: [trollope-l] Grace Crawley on the Marriage Market
Perhaps she has fallen in love with him? For all her education I find her a pretty blah character, one who will stick with her ideals of how to treat those who are "above" her and how she thinks she should act when her father is in trouble, but aside from that I don't get much more about her. Give me Lily any day.
Major Grantly is not much better than Grace. He does at least decide to give up his "inheritance" from his father (now there's a wonderful character) and stick by Grace, but neither he nor Grace do much to interest me.
Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2000 21:47:52
Subject: [trollope-l] The Last Chronicle: Uninteresting Characters
Joan says neither Grace nor Major Grantly are interesting personalities. True enough: both are built out of cultural preconceptions about what people ought to be. I also find Griselda has lost some of her bite -- as a conception in the text; Miss Dunstable as Mrs Thorne is just not the same. Emily Dunstable? Who is paying attention? Then there's the predictablity of the Lufton set.
Perhaps these flats are a sign that Trollope was right to bring the series to an end with this book. I can't remember similarly dull characters in any of the previous 5. I admit I was not thrilled with Eleanor Bold as a character, but the role she played had spectacle, and it is only in her that I sensed in myself any restlessness. I liked Lucy Robarts because she was an underdog; I even liked Mary Thorne, though the portrait edged towards sentimentality when it came to her relationship with Beatrice Gresham.
What do others think? Was Trollope right in packing in Barsetshire? Putting the characters and the mood they are suffused in into the puppet box and shutting it tight? Was Barsetshire as it had been played out? I don't know how many people on our list have read the very late long short story, "The Two Heroines of Plumpington" which is set in the 'old' Barsetshire. I found it anodyne, too predictable.
Date: Wed, 9 Aug 2000 16:16:10 -0400
Subject: [trollope-l] Idols of the Market Place
"But words plainly force and overrule the understanding, and throw all into confusion, and lead men away into numberless empty controversies and idle fancies." (Bacon, The New Organon, Book One, XLIII)
Perhaps I'm misled by the quiet enthusiasm that finding a strikingly sympathetic passage so often brings to the simmer, but Bacon's observations about what he calls the 'Idols of the Market Place" seem remarkably pertinent to Ellen Moody's contrast of Hogglestock with Hook Court. Preliminarily, I'd like to call attention to Bacon's idea of the danger of 'words' and to his subtle characterization of 'empty controversies' as 'numberless.'
Might it not be very useful to distinguish the discussion of money in Trollope from the discussion of something that in his eyes seems almost its opposite - credit?
Money and credit are distinct issues. One might almost call them different resources. Having money is a simple matter of tangible assets. Archdeacon Grantly and Lady Lufton have money - there's no doubt about it. Dean Arabin married money. Their wealth is very real (in more ways than one).
The denizens of Hook Court - like the tradesmen in every line whose numbers swelled during the nineteenth-century - deal in the expectation of money. There is no money today - so there's no reason to look for bags of gold or sterling forks. But tomorrow, when the ship comes in (a phrase that indicates the origins of credit, at least in the West), there will be plenty, and investments all round will turn handsome profits. Debts will be repaid at interest. Risk capital will mushroom. The world will be a richer place overall, in that everyone will have more money. As the plight of Africa makes so awfully clear, you can't make money until you can borrow it.
In theory, credit is based on balance sheets and closely-reasoned expectations. In practice, however, the Idols of the Market Place exercise their distorting influence. "For it is by discourse that men associate, and words are imposed according to the apprehension of the vulgar." (Ibidem) And what could be more vulgar than presuming that the owner of Courcy Castle and a title must live in comfortable expectation of a pleasant income? You're not going to make any money if you refuse to sell him boots or beef because he hasn't got any money now. He'll probably have some tomorrow. In The Way We Live Now the whole world seems to take a tradesman's interest in reaping the rewards of a great chimerical railway. Mr Crawley's predicament began when the tradesmen of Silverbridge, seeing him as a gentleman and a scholar, extended him credit.* Without this credit, Mr Crawley would not have been able to feed and clothe his family. We will probably all agree that he ought to have money - income - instead of credit. He ought to have been better paid. But the foolishness that made credit available to him is the very same foolishness that Dobbs Broughton and Musselboro prey on.
I wonder if anyone on-list has any personal experience (which seems doubtful) or knows anyone with such experience, of the ways in which banks decide (a) to solicit credit card 'ownership and (b) to extend credit to cardholders. My bet is that 'marketing' considerations act as a pretty powerful idol here. If someone lives in the right zip code, he's probably more likely to repay his loans. Ditto if he works for such-and-such an employer. Balance sheets don't really come into it; 'probabilities' do.
Trollope's attitude toward money is not ambivalent. He regards honestly gained money in the pocket as an absolute good. (Misers are not wicked simply because they have money.) Similarly, his attitude toward credit is pretty clear. Extending credit is a business risk, and wise men will extend it wisely. Accepting credit, at least for the purposes of personal consumption, is a danger to be avoided. In novel after novel, Trollope's heroes, and sometimes his heroines, fall into terrible scrapes about loans that can't be repaid. This doesn't mean that Trollope thinks that money is problematic. It means that not having it is.
"And now there had come upon them all this terribly-crushing disaster. That poor Mr Crawley had gradually got himself into a mess of debt at Silverbridge, from which he was quite unable to extricate himself, was generally known by all the world both of Silverbridge and Hogglestock. "
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 05:18:01 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: [trollope-l] LCB: The Crawley Pride
In this week's section I noticed that Rev. Crawley isn't the only one that sticks at accepting charity. Grace turned down the money that Lily offered her when she was returning home after receiving a letter from her mother. I would have thought Grace might have accepted it knowing the situation at home, especially as one of the reasons she was staying with Lily and Mrs. Dale was so her mother wouldn't have to worry about food for her. But of course that was not the only reason she went to the Dales' instead of going straight home.
It appears in this respect Grace might take more after her father than her mother, who has graciously accepted charity in the past.
Why is Mrs. Crawley able to accept charity and why is she even willing to do it behind her husband's back? Part of it I think is probably due to what is commonly called mother's instinct. One will do what one has to do to feed and clothe one's family. But I wonder if her upbringing also plays a factor. Am I remembering correctly that Mrs. Crawley came from a family a step up the ladder and married down? If her family was comfortably off they might have engaged in charitable works, giving Mrs. Crawley the other perspective.
Date: Thu, 10 Aug 2000 14:50:52 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] The "Artist" sub-plot in LCB
I had forgotten about the Conway Dalrymple subplot in Last Chronicle of Barset. It is almost like reading another book entirely. Trollope, when he writes about painters, seems to know what he's talking about. Is he satirizing the pre-raph's here? Characters talk about the unpleasantly bright colors that painters of the day are using - "more suitable for a child's picture book." (or words to that effect.) The references to Miss Desmolines hair "which she wore tangled about in an extraordinary manner" remind me of a Millais painting. I'm sure there are many references in these chapters that a contemporary reader would twig to at once. Does anyone have any insights here? Where can I read more about Trollope and artists (sculptors and painters)?
Subject: [trollope-l] Mention of Glencora Palliser
I only noticed on this read through Last Chronicle of Barset that Lady Glencora's portrait is mentioned during the discussions of artists. I always smile when Lady Glen comes on the scene in sudden, unexpected flashes.
August 11, 2000
Re: Trollope and Visual Artists
Catherine, you ask about Trollope's relationship to painting, sculpture and visual artists. It's a relevant question not only to the subplot of The Last Chronicle but the whole of Ayala which dramatises something of the world of artists in its exploration of the conflict between a romantic idealistic view of life (and the nerve to live that way) and a realistic and in terms of the way it's put in the novel a philistine way of life. Trollope has a number of short sketches (non-fiction) which show he was himself knowledgeable in painting, at least knew enough to be able to discuss trends, and he clearly liked to go and look at pictures. There's the famous picture of him by William Frith as one of a couple of central figures used symbolically in a depiction of an opening at the Royal Academy.
I see it as a paradoxical aspiration. I know he oftens mocks (in a very Dickens kind of way) pictures when he describes them, especially if they are at all symbolic; he seems to come out firmly on the side of the realists: people cannot escape their society; they live off it, so artists must in effect become businessmen who make wares, as that is how they are treated by most of their patrons, however they may yearn to escape this. Yet oddly he returns to the theme, loves himself to write verbal pictures (landscapes). Again although he lived such a respectable life on the surface (in his Autobiography he tells us he left out some portions of his life, and refers to petticoats and sexuality and other non- respectable activities), although he himself embodied prudence, many of his friends were artists and led Bohemian lives. He was himself personally very close to George Eliot and Henry Lewes. His brother's entourage in Italy, to say nothing of his first wife's family and daughter, belonged to the demi-monde. Think of his announcement in his An Autobiography of a love for Millais so strong that he will only talk about it in public now that he is safely dead and cannot be laughed at (he writes An Autobiography with a perspective of someone who is talking to us now that he is dead, a not uncommon ploy of autobiographers).
Thus I would argue that in The Last Chronicle by castigating the worst that he can say about artists -- Conroy Dalrymple's relationship with Mrs Dobbs Broughton has a sordid feel -- it's as if Trollope is exorcising out some desire in himself very sternly indeed. He needs to be stern with himself. Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents is the underlying text which explicates Trollope's attitudes towards art in this book and in Ayala where Trollope is kinder to himself and us.
Cheers to all,
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 06:07:38 -0000
Subject: [trollope-l] Grace Crawley as a Plot Device
Thank you, Ellen, for your well-reasoned and thoughtful post about Last Chronicle of Barset. I agree with you - I hold Trollope to a higher standard than other 19th century writers. Your post bears re-reading and studying, because you say many things that are important for a modern reader of Trollope and his contemporaries to bear in mind. To those of my fellow readers who don't understand why I am making such a fuss about Grace Crawley, I must tell you that Ellen makes the case better than I do.
One or two new points - I have already mentioned Edith Grantly, who is not even two years old when the novel begins. Why is she there? I think Edith diminished the sexual prospect of a marriage between Grace Crawley and Major Grantly. Servants not with standing, instant motherhood takes the bloom off of marriage. Grace will go from being a sixteen year old girl to being a matron in one easy step. As Ellen points out, this is a story we're reading here. Trollope created the characters and their situations for a reason. Why is Edith there? Does she make Grantly less threatening - more of a big brother or father figure? Would people think (even at not-quite-thirty) that Major Grantly was an odd duck to be pursuing a 16 year old girl with out having been married previously? I don't think this is a minor point. What was Trollope doing here? Also, why is Jane Crawley (Grace's sister) still alive? (I mean why does Trollope make it so.) In an earlier post, I had mentioned something about the Palliser children. There were originally two boys and two girls. Little Lady Glencora appears once, in The Prime Minister. She apparently dies, because in The Duke's Children only Mary Palliser is left, with her two brothers. Ellen said that Mary was left as the only daughter to intensify the bond between Plantagenet and his (now) only daughter, and add an element to the struggle over Mary's desire to marry "beneath" her. I agree with Ellen - young Glencora would have been extra baggage. Trollope writes her out. In the Last Chronicle of Barset we have a different scenario - Jane Crawley lives. Why Jane? Trollope has killed off two or three other Crawley children. (Interesting that he lets a boy, a son and heir, live, although this boy is largely off stage.) Jane is a loving daughter who can read ancient Greek almost as well as her older sister. Is Jane in the novel to "buffer" Grace's leaving the family? How does Jane affect the family dynamic? Trollope was a superb craftsman who hardly ever did a careless thing in writing his books. What is he up to with these girls - Grace, Jane and Edith?
Date: Mon, 14 Aug 2000 14:47:50
Subject: [trollope-l] Grace Crawley as a plot device
"Also, why is Jane Crawley Grace's sister) still alive? (I mean why does Trollope make it so.)"
How about so that the Major would have to go to visit at the Little House rather than at home. If the visit had been at home all sorts of complications would have arisen with Rev. Crawley that AT didn't want at that time. If Grace hadn't had a sister, she certainly would have gone home to console her mother.
I had forgotten she was only 16, have been thinking of her as about 18-19. It makes her an even sadder character to me since I think of 16 year-olds as being much more vibrant than Grace.
Date: Tue, 15 Aug 2000 20:36:10 +0100
Subject: [trollope-l] Enough of Grace Crawley!
Does the list think that we have probably extracted everything possible from this subject? I would like to correct one misconception, and then to agree with almost everyone who has posted that Grace and Henry are not very interesting.
The misconception is about Grace's age. Trollope makes it perfectly clear in Chapter I of LCB (p.6 of the Trollope Society edition) that she is nineteen, and so of a very marriageable age. In the next chapter, it is the Archdeacon who, in one of his dressing room discussions with his wife, calls her 'A child about sixteen years of age!'. He is immediately corrected by Susan Grantly, who says 'I am told that she is nineteen'. Typically, the Archdeacon replies 'What does it matter if she was fifty-nine?'. It is clear that the opposition in the family comes from the Archdeacon (and the grisly Griselda), and that Susan will be completely content with anyone who will make Henry happy and replace Edith's lost mother.
As we shall see, the Archdeacon will sing a completely different tune after he has met Grace.