A Question; Lady Anna; The Young Man Standing at the Gate; Further Strong Scenes; Herbert; Clara; Herbert and Owen; The Famine in the Light of the Devastation in NY and DC; Castle Richmond: Trollope as Uncomfortable, a Flawed Book; Framley Parsonage and Castle Richmond(In Defense of CR); His Six Letters: Castle Richmond: And Other Irish Novels?

Date: Fri, 28 Sep 2001

Re: Castle Richmond, A Question

Belatedly I have a question about a scene in Chapter Two of Castle Richmond. The scene is the Desmond estate with Clara, Owen and Patrick, who are assembled at the side of the "little Desmond river." Patrick, who has been fishing, crosses over to the other side on stepping stones. Clara starts to follow but is dissuaded by Patrick, who is afraid she will slip into the water. Instead she crosses over by a footbridge with Owen, who takes the occasion to hint that he particularly enjoys her company.

These elements -- a river, stepping stones, a young couple discovering their feelings for each other… What scene from another Trollope novel I am dimly remembering here? There's a footbridge in Small House, isn't there? But that's not the one I am thinking of. I believe we have discussed this on the list in the past.


I replied: Re: Lady Anna

Dear Todd and all,

I don't remember if we discussed the scene on the list, but I am guessing I know the one you are referring to. It occurs in Lady Anna. During Anna's visit to Yoxham Rectory when she and her cousin, Frederick, Lord Lovel go out for a long walk near Bolton Abbey, we watch Frederick persuade Anna to cross a fast-flowing 'black' river by jumping over a series of stepping- stones. She holds back until Frederick persuades her to overcome strong reluctance. Then she hops to safety:

'Don't look at the water, dear', said the lord, 'but come on quick.

'I can't come on quick. I shall never get over. Oh Frederick! . . . It's no good, I can't do that on, -- it's crooked. Mayn't I go back again?'

'You can't go back, dear . . .' (p. 153).

They come to another place between high rocks where there is a wider chasm. The young Lord pressures the girl less gently, Then they talk again, and as Lady Anna feels her memory of the young man she engaged herself to, Daniel Thwaite becoming 'faint as the last shaded glimmer of twilight', shuts her eyes, and leaps with a springing motion. She falls and twists her ankle badly (pp. 153-57).

It's a remarkable scene, highly romantic with lots of thematic resonances. It is revealing how almost the same scene or same kind of scene can recur in two novels so far apart in Trollope's career.


To Trollope-l

September 30, 2001

Re: Castle Richmond: The Young Man Standing at the Gate

Dear Todd and All, Another recurring scene in Trollope's novels is that of the young hero who has been made a pariah, feels himself an outcast. Often he stands by a fence or gate looking to the other side; sometimes he has just been disinherited; at other times he has throughout his life been made to feel he is in some sense a fake version of a gentleman. The scene from this week's chapters is pictured for perhaps the first time: Owen Fitzgerald betakes himself to walking to Desmond Court, stands by a gate contemplating the other side; he is thinking of calling on Lady Clara but cannot get himself to. He stands by the gate for a while, and then turns home (Oxford Castle Richmond, ed MHamer, Ch 30, p. 331). When this vignette and group of motifs and circumstances are found in Orley Farm where Lucius Mason is disinherited and Ralph the Heir where one of the two Ralphs similarly stands by a fence and looks out at the land. So we have three novels with the same scene: from the early, the middle and the late phase of Trollope's novels. If you read the verbal picture of Castle Richmond and then go to a copy of Orley Farm which has Millais's illustrations, you will find a scene that looks appropriate to this week's texts. On my website I describe the full-page illustration thus:

'Lucius Mason, as he leaned on the Gate that was no longer his own' (1981 Dover OrleyFarm, ii, p 264. This is a depiction of a young man absorbed in a landscape; I got my publisher to reproduce it in my Trollope on the Net (Chapter 6, illustration facing p. 173).

Lucius has a top hat and is dressed very elegantly; otherwise the illustration fits Owen Fitzgerald in front of Desmond Court.

Trollope will also repeat certain kinds of language. In the stepping stone incident, the young man urges or pressures the girl to do some physical act which is daring, courageous; she does and strains her ankle -- an emblematic act. At the opening of Chapter 28 in this week's chapters, we are told that after Herbert has faced the "worse" he thinks he can know in the encounter with the cold harsh Countess of Desmond, and wakes the next morning with the kind letter of Lady Clara in his hand he "felt that he could yet hold up his haead against all that the world could do to him" (p. 312). Exactly the same language, she could "hold up her head against all that the world could do to her" is applied to Lady Mason after she has told Sir Peregrine Orme she did the forgery and sits in a chair staring out a window thinking about it. This scene is one of those Trollope asked Millais to visualise, and after Millais visualized it, later in Orley Farm Trollope referred to the picture saying it taught him more about what he was imagining, made him see his own character more deeply than he had (see Orley Farm, Dover ed, illustration facing p. 36)

That these dramatic picture and phrases which repeat throughout the novels have symbolic significance for Trollope: they represent dream- or remembered moments in his life which kept coming back to him. He felt himself an outcast; he felt he was holding up his head against all that the world could do to him; he played with young women in the way that his heroes do -- or dreamed of doing so.

Cheers to all,

Re: Castle Richmond, Chs 26-30: Further Strong Scenes

This week's chapters bring us a series of strong scenes, one after another, each one coming out of the one before, delicately calibrated. Trollope may have written as well as this after this novel but he never wrote better. Dagny mentioned how strong Lady Fitzgerald suddenly is, how she turns to comfort her son: perhaps what makes these chapters so appealing is that all the characters are strong. There's not a weakling among them: stretching my definition, I would say that at least Sir Thomas is strong in his intense emotions; his grief shatters him from within. But if one wants to see him as the one character who cannot take the axe coming down, there is no other. We are not bored though because the kinds of strength exhibited are wholly different, and in one case, especially, the Countess of Desmond, the strength is that of bitterness, selfishness, a kind of raw coldness that wraps a strong carapace around itself partly because the world has ejected or, as she thinks, betrayed her, much earlier.

The description is rich and nuanced and detailed and effective: Herbert walking through the cold muddy rain on a wet morning. In intensity it looks forward to Mr Harding on his long day in London waiting to see the great man, Haphazard at 10; also in melancholy effectiveness. There is also beauty here: the beauty of accuracy.

He had not been out long before there came on a cold, light, drizzling rain, such a rain as gradually makes it way into the innermost rag of a man's cloting, running up the inside of his waterproof coat, and penetraitng by its perserverance the very folds of his necktie. Such cold, drizzling rain is the commonest phase of hard weather during Irish winters, and htose who are out and about get used to it and treaet it tenderly. They are euphemistical as to the weather, calling it hazy and soft, and never allowing themselves to carry bad languag on such a subject beyond the word dull. And yet at such a time one breathes the rain and again exhales it, and become as it were oneself a water spirit, assuming an aqueous fishlke nature into one's fibres (Oxford Castle Richmond, MHamer, Ch 25, p. 283).

In one of her critical essays George Eliot argues that the idea that the author who produces fanciful extravagances is more imaginative than the realistic writer is false: she deplores the "common prejudice" which regards "the power of precise statement and description" as "rated lower, as the attitude of an everyday prosaic mind". She says the really powerful imagination is the one which really sees what is in front of us, which is "based on a keen consciousness of what is", can "inform every material object, every indidental fact with far-reaching memories and stored residues of passion, bringing into new light the less obvious relations of human existence". Trollope does that in this and other books: the above scene is by-the-way another one that repeats through the novels: George Vavasour charging through the Westmoreland countryside has just such a drenched cold desperate moment of endurance. Trollope says he loved to walk in the northern countryside.

We get another scene between our two heroes. Trollope's idea seems to be to show us how the utterly chivalrous soul, the man who feels himself to be generosity itself, uncorrupted by the world, if rejected and misunderstood by it, is nonetheless driven by his own unidealistic passions and appetites. Owen Fitzgerald cannot make the bargain he wants: he cannot live apart and outside of society. Herbert cannot give him Lady Clara as if she were a doll in exchange for land no one in the community will be willing to recognize is Herbert's. The "new light" here is to make us see Quixote generosity as densely selfish and yet beautiful: Owen really feels for Herbert; there is a sense in which his behavior is noble; he does not measure Herbert by the dollar amount he's worth -- as does the Countess of Desmond. Herbert, the prosaic, the non-dreamer, the quiet man who is not super-generous, yet is the more reasonable one who people could live with.

"'But, Owen', -- - and Herbert touched him cousin's arm.

'Well; why do you not speak? I have spoken plainly enough.'

'It is not easy to speak plainly on all subjects ...' (p. 334).

Notice how often the characters put their arms around one another's waists; embrace, touch one another in this sequence.

The exchange of letters punctuates the text. We have the sharply evolved scene betwee Herbert and the Countess. She really doesn't care about anyone but herself: that's not so uncommon. She's desperate. And again from her lights she is willing to give up what she dreams of, longs for, the love of the chivalrous young hero. Like Owen, she refuses to take into account someone else's consciousness, needs, reality. But Lady Clara does stand out. Again Trollope will not permit us easy sentimentality: one reason that Lady Clara now loves Herbert is he has become the underdog: Trollope has Owen realise that now that Herbert is in bad adversity Clara can justify herself for having abandoned Owen. Clara is still not passionate for Herbert; she is passionate over an ideal.

There is beautiful symmetry in this week's chapters: comfortless and comforted; the chapters where we are made to feel what the community thinks and the chapters and moments where first Herbert, then Lady Fitzgerald, then Lady Clara, then Owen and finally even Aunt Letty, let the community say what it will, the sayings are false, and there is nothing to be ashamed of. Of course this is Quixote, chivalric, romantic. It is a characteristic of old medieval romance that we get noble characters suffering who are strong whom circumstances nonetheless bring down to tragedy apparently through no one's fault. Each is driven by someone else or something inside himself or herself.

And again as through the whole book there is the effect of this rhythmic lyric style; there are so many passages, long and short, declarations by the characters, meditations where where we get this circular evocative repeating language, with the language swirling on on itself, slightly oracular, prophetic in an elegant way:

Who could prophesy to what Owen might be led with his passionate impulses, his strong will, his unbridled temper, and his love of pleasure? (p. 298)

There had been but one Irish voice that she had cared to hear; and the owner of that voice had loved her child instead of loving her.

And she had borne that wretchedness too; if not well, then bravely ... So she had banished form the house the only voice that sounded sweetly in her ears, and again she had been alone (p. 296)

All the characters pull off this style:

'Love is worth nothing -- nothing if it does not believe itself to be of more worth than everything beside ... (p. 302).

That's prosaic Herbert. Even Aunt Letty "a stupid old woman, prejudiced in the highest degree" picks up the tune in her mind: "But with her, human nature was stronger than family pride, and she loved them all, not better, but more tenderly than before"

The sentences are often reversed slightly: "It was grievous enough, that awaking to his sorrow, after the pleasant dreams of the night" (p. 311). But the trick is the repetition and circularity.

And it's not easy to pull off without falling into bathos: what keeps it going is how strong the narrator's pulsing on is. The narrator's quiet intense presence as he moves from hard scene to hard scene makes it: he does not mince words; when the old man dies, as the family grieve, they remember that they could now be put out of the house: in the style of the book: "It may be said that at such a moment all this should not have been thought of; but those who say so know little, as I imagine, of the true effect of sorrow" (p. 344). When Trollope's father died in Brussels, the family didn't forget they had to pay the rent.

In an article on the novel, Margaret Kelleher writes that Castle Richmond is one of the better known of Trollope's singletons, the best known of his Irish books. I don't think it's the best of them: The Macdermots makes a lot more sense; stands up to logical analysis; An Eye for an Eye and The Kellys and O'Kellys are truer to sordid experience. Castle Richmond is a romance, but it is splendidly carried off.

Cheers to all,

Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2001
Re: Castle Richmond, Chs 26-30

I haven't yet finished this week's section but have gotten to the part where Herbert and Lady Fitzgerald see each other for the first time after both of them "know all."

Herbert is wet and bedraggeled from his long trek around the country side and over to Desmond Court. Lady Fitzgerald takes him in hand, her mother's instinct taking over.

I like to see this strong portrayal of women. Actually I think it is more realistic and true to life than the fainting heroines we often see in books. Just a woman, carrying on and doing what needs to be done.


Date: Thu, 04 Oct 2001
From: "Patricia M. Maroney"
Subject: Castle Richmond: Herbert

I am finally almost caught up with the Castle Richmond reading and am enjoying it. I think the scenes with the revelation of the secret were so well done. Having just finished No Name, I paticularly noted Herbert's comment that he now had no name. This probably would have gone by me otherwise. His sisters of course have no name now either and perhaps it will be even worse for them; he can we assume find some way to earn a living. And what would his mother and aunt live on? But the focus here is on Herbert. (And I liked the scene where Aby winds up in the bushes; can't quite decide just what he was going to say to Owen but don't suppose it much matters; the humor is fitting and needed at that point.) It is interesting that Trollope, who spends so much time in physically positioning his characters, gives Herbert absolutely nothing when he goes to Desmond Court. He has no home court advantage, he comes in no carriage, he is wet, tired, hungry, miserable, and in no way able to take a position of strength in his encounter with the Countess.There is of course the chance for humor here or pathos but mainly I feel it is just very real. The universe really has dumped on him. I did wonder why he sent Clara out of the room. It does make better drama, of course, in the one-to-one conversation,which benefits the author, but Herbert deprives himself of the chance to see if the Countess presents the facts accurately or humanely to Clara, and deprives himself of the chance to affirm his love to Clara directly (and she to him). We have to imagine most of the conversation between the Countess and Clara. But Clara shows her spirit with her letter arriving before his is sent. Pat

Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001

Re: Clara

Yes, and Clara shows so much spirit in writing the letter, against convention---and threatening to leave to go to him if thwarted. I can't decide about Clara--is she just a romantic spirit or has she truly changed. Does she just want what she can't have? I was quite surprised by this development---didn't take enough notice of her in earlier chapters---I agree that the plot is quite suspenseful--it's a great predicament for Herbert and Owen--between a rock and a hard place. Judy W

Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001
Re: Herbert and Owen

Pat, I too wondered why Herbert wanted to send Clara out of the room and only tell the Countess what had come to light. I would have thought he wanted the reverse. There lies another difference between Herbert and Owen.

To me a logical explanation would be that he wanted to inform the Countess in her capacity as Clara's mother and guardian of his changed financial status. That makes sense and seems logical and correct. However, for some reason I got the impression that this was not Herbert's reasoning in the matter. It seemed almost as if he considered Clara too fragile to hear the news and that her mother would have to "break" it to her gently. This isn't a good attitude to have towards a woman that he still wants to marry in his reduced circumstances.

Judy W., I didn't pay enough attention to Clara in the earlier chapters either. I can't figure out what her feelings are in regard to Herbert and Owen now. It seems she still has feelings for Owen and really still cares the most for him, but won't admit it to herself. We shall see.


Date: Fri, 5 Oct 2001
Re: The Famine in the Light of the Devastation in NY and DC I'm a little behind in reading and just finished the chapters in which Trollope gives us the famine stricken country, the people losing everything, including their lives---- and Herbert and family losing their status, legitimacy, large amounts of money. I know there have been postings about this already, but it was so affecting as I read it this morning I'm writing about it again, in light of the devastation in NY and DC. It's hard to sympathize with the Fitzgerald's plight when thinking about the starving Irish "peasants", seeing the burn victims and devastated families in NY, seeing the already starving people fleeing Afghanistan or huddled in tents---and I just am not sure how it would have been seen or how Trollope intended it to be seen in his time. I think so much more would have been left to the reader's imagination to picture, without the exposure we've had to pictures of so many starving people in so many countries, but then, perhaps in those times, people saw more starving people and had more experience of rural poverty in their daily lives than most Americans do. Very affecting chapters for reasons that may not have entirely to do with the writing.

Judy Warner

To Trollope-l

October 5, 2001

Re: Castle Richmond: One of Trollope's Well-Known Singletons

In response to Pat and Judy W,

It does seem understandable that of Trollope's "singletons" which have not hit the "radar screen" of "relevant to the 20th century, particularly feminist and disillusioned points of view (i.e., He Knew He Was Right and The Way We Live Now) -- Castle Richmond should remain one of the better known and best selling novels? During my research on the publication history of Trollope's novels I discovered (somewhat to my surprize) how The Kellys and O'Kellys were among the first books to emerge into print in the early 20 century after the disastrous 20 years bad-mouthing, disdain and fall from elite respectabilities that Trollope's novels endured right after his death and upon the publication of his candid self-deprecating Autobiography. I also discovered that Castle Richmond returned to print -- and stayed more steadily, was noticed, alluded to, mentioned.

This contrasts to Is He Popenjoy and John Caldigate. Both dropped out of sight and may still be said to live on invisibly, especially since there is no support from inexpensive in print paperbacks.

The brightness, gaiety, and cheer of Ayala has kept it in public memory.

The story, characters, landscape are powerful, effective, true to life. The sociological matter -- the famine -- is done realistically from the point of view of the establishment. The strong romance elements are deeply appealing. It has beauty. It is a book which stands.

On another tack: I came across an interesting comment by Kathryn Hughes in her biography of George Eliot, one I have seen elsewhere. Hughes says the first twenty years after an author's death are crucial in setting up what will be his or her reputation for a long time afterwards, a twenty years which it is very hard to get over in public discourse. Eliot became "obsolete", a Neanderthalian elephantine "Victorian", aligned with heavy moralizing only after World War I. The first twenty years after her death she remained highly praised, highly respected. Woolf's First Common Reader famously said Middlemarch was the first adult novel in English. Well, that first twenty years was very bad for Mr Trollope. There was no one around to speak up for him or his point of view, no one in whose interest it was to explain it. His brother, in fact, went out of his way to write an autobiography, one of whose purposes was to refute or get people to dismiss the bleak and truthful picture of the Trollope household and especially the candid picture of the mother. It was all Art for Art's Sake, open rebellion and bitterness (the Gissing school), what so many owed to Trollope (among them Henry James) was against the grain and against their interest to mention.

A few thoughts after reading this week's postings by Pat, Judy W and Dagny on Castle Richmond


Four Years Earlier there was a thread on Ms Thompson's Trollope List on Castle Richmond

January 24, 1997

Re: Castle Richmond: Trollope as Uncomfortable, a Flawed Book

After I read June's posting today I returned to Castle Richmond to see if I could find the passage wherein Trollope found himself referring explicitly to a religious perspective and shied away with the comment that this kind of perspective is inappropriate to a novel. Well of course I couldn't find it. But what I did find and remember was this: in at least two chapters ("The Famine Year" and "The Relief Committee"), Trollope begins to talk of the appalling suffering the Irish were experiencing and in order to come to terms with it or to make sense of it he turns to a religious explanation. He does not shy away from the idea that the famine and the pestilence afterwards were "God's work," but it does disturb him to have to "justify the ways of God" to his novel-reader. Phrases like "God's wrath" occur in this book in several places, and I think it was in some such passage that Trollope became uncomfortable with this Miltonic role as well as downright muddled in his thinking about why the poor Irish should have to take it in the neck when the social evils he sees are clearly not of their making and having nothing much to do with rotten potatoes anyway. I think it was at such a moment that he suggests that the novelist's sphere is not religious, and that language or thought requiring this kind of earnestness or seriousness from him do not belong in his books.

I'd like to write about two aspects of Trollope's discomfort or uncomfortableness in the passage if I am right in recalling it as occurring in Castle Richmond. One, it does show that the novel was not thought of as a form of high seriousness in the way poetry has been thought of at least by some readers since the time of the Renaissance. While Trollope wants to fulfill the role of moralist, he sees this role as limited by his coterminous role of entertainer. As I wrote I don't think he himself bought into the idea of the imaginative literature as a substitute for the old religious securities, the belief in an implied metaphysical and good order, that was dying in the 19th century, or should I say I don't think he bought into it for himself. On occasion he seems to talk of other writers in exalted terms which suggests he took their work as one of high seriousness. George Eliot is one such in his Autobiography.

The second aspect of Trollope's discomfort in this novel I'd like to deal with concerns the seriousness of the frame or background in Castle Richmond as well as on the limitations of Trollope's own outlook and this book as I see it. While the main story is not about the famine, the story does occur and is interwoven with scenes and meditations about this devastating calamity. The effect is to give the book, will Trollope nill Trollope, the integrity which a work has when it deals with topics of ravaging grief and misery with accuracy. For Trollope is accurate in his portrayal as far as it goes, even down to the business of the shipping of Indian corn meal to Ireland to feed the starving.

I have said as far as it goes, and this gets me to Trollope's limitations. Nowhere in this book do we get a real condemnation of the British role in Ireland in this book. I have read that at the time the Irish were literally starving to death, those who had the right and power and ownership of other foodstuffs or other things which could have been sold to buy food were shipping them these out, exporting them. Trollope justifies the demand that the poor go to the workhouse before they shall be fed. The heinous and humiliating treatment of people in such places is not mentioned. He argues all men must pay with something for food; nothing must be given away even in such a time of disaster. So we get scenes of absurd work-making, of poor Irishmen coming out on a road with ridiculous implements, under the supervision of someone who is in status higher than them, but knows nothing of making a road (if that is what's intended and it's dubious from the little plans that have been done), and we get a description of exhausted starving men ruining the landscape so they may be given bits of money with which to buy food. In other words his desire to justify the goverment's behavior which he says is one reason he writes the book is to me based on his inhumanity to others. Here it is in his words:

"then two great rules seemed to get themselves laid down--not by general consent, for there were many who greatly contested their wisdom--but by some force strongenough to make itself dominant. The first was, that the food to be provided should be earned and not given away. And the second was, that the providing of that food should be left to private competition, and not in any way be undertaken by the Govenrment. I make bold to sya that both ese rules were wise and good" (Chapter 18, p 200).

I will not deny I am looking at this from my own perspective. Before I would grant the accolade of immortal author I say that this immortal must come up to certain very austere standards. For me an author must not say of another fellow or woman she is other than I. Don't get me wrong; I'm not pretending to read anything into Trollope or hiding an agenda under the guise of theory. I protest against Trollope's views here frankly. I hope it will be granted me that this is somewhat different from Mary Hamer's procedure of insinuating her morality into her exegesis as if it were a universal truth agreed upon. What I protest against in agenda-written criticism is the assumption that the writer's agenda is right and true and the insinuation of this agenda into the criticism under some other guise. No-one need agree with me. I'll go and vote my way, and others go and vote theirs.

I will add that in this connection--my sense that any author who can draw a line between himself and some group of people and dismiss them or not identify with them, which I grant is typical and I am guilty of too (but then I have no illusions about myself)--I have always found the ending of Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress abhorrent; can't stomach religious fundamentalism of the Calvinistic type. Now here in the religious area Trollope and I agree; it's that he doesn't extend this into social and other arenas. I once read Spenser's Faerie Queene, Book V; it's on justice and has scenes which occur in Ireland; I loathed it, and after that had to demote Spenser in my private lineup of authors. When I am invited to regard certain people as elect and others as not, this won't do. Once I have to say well we have to understand this serious error (to me Trollope is in serious error in this book at such moments) he has to come down to a second rung. Second rung's not bad, but it's not first. I could finesse and quote Trollope's own words that there were people in his period who were for directly aiding the misery of the Irish people in a real humane way. But to tell the honest truth, who cares? Trollope is not fully capable of saying there but for the grace of God go I. If he's thinking of the long view, and how bad a step this is for "society" in the years to come, I say for individual people at any given time there is no long view. If anyone ever counsels cruelty to an individual now in the guise of worrying about abstractions in the years to come, I tend to suspect his motives or his intelligence.

I also find his striving to try to present the case of the Irish as an aspect of God's grace more than slightly ludicrous. This book is yet another one which all is not right with the world. The happy ending of the main story is more than a bit forced--though the actual circumstances of a man who practices serial marriage is very interesting and was perhaps a common social problem in some ways. There is also his portrait of the woman who is believed to have been bigamous--the mother of the hero. While Trollope's rhetoric continually justifies her on the basis of her innocence of the falsity of the man she supposedly married, he treats her as one polluted or at least surrounds her with a rhetoric that makes her into some sort of abomination that has to hide away. Here again he touches upon an issue of great interest until today--woman's sexual freedom, but his imagination is not up to it. He is limited by his revulsion against the idea of a sexually free woman of the middle class--he is not so revolted when it comes to lower class women in say John Caldigate or Sir Harry Hotspur. The characters who are of most interest and are treated with least bias and real penetration in the novel (though he inveighs against them in his Autobiography) are the older woman who loves the young man and ends up isolated, alone, and the young man himself who is forced into exile. I agree with Trollope that this book was a failure, but not for the reasons Trollope gives in his Autobiography.

Having said all this I confess I read this book with great intensity and many of the scenes engrossed me. He did at least seek to tell the story to the English. He did at least mean to deal seriously with an issue of great moment whose implications are still with us. He is not frivolous. I'll give him that and more. He is wide-ranging. Some of the scenes of the main story are rivetting and true to life. And at least he presents the scenes of the famine that he does present with accuracy, with compassion, and with a kind of nightmarish awe and horror that partly redeems his book--at least for me.

Ellen Moody

NB: I am not even the slightest bit Irish pace the first name. My parents just happened to be living in an Irish neighborhood in the Bronx at the time my mother gave birth to me and she liked the name.

In a message dated 97-01-24 14:23:01 EST, Jim writes:

If the author wrote something or did something in his personal life from which the reader demurs, the act should be viewed in the acceptable range of behavior and attitudes of his own age, and condemned or praised on that basis.

The above statement struck me as rather odd. It seems to indicate that whatever any given society accepted should be deemed acceptable to the modern reader and whatever was condemned by the writer's society should be likewise condemned by the modern reader. On that basis I think I'll go throw all my Oscar Wilde on the fire and replace it on my shelf with a nice edition of Mein Kaumpf, by that man the Germans thought so highly of at the time.

Tony Prince

Re: Castle Richmond and Framley Parsonage

Rereading my posting last night on Castle Richmond I fear I came across as too critical of the book. When I first finished it, I hoped to write on the list about it, but time passed, and I never got to it; at that time I was going to talk about many elements in it which I thought of real interest and well done.

In the context of the milieu surrounding Framley Parsonage, I want to praise it for its seriousness of intent. Framley Parsonage may be the more successful book as a piece of art, but in comparison it is frivolous, and written to fit the formula of novel about clergymen which takes place in a middle and upper class English milieu and has a happy ending--in fact the title of the last chapter is more than a little mocking--"How They Were All Married, Had Two Children, and Lived Happily Ever After." And among those married off are Dr Thorne to Miss Dunstable which was not easy to take, though Trollope pulls it off, just. In Castle Richmond Trollope presents a story of bigamy which was the indirect way many Victorian novelists used to present the reality of what happened in a society where divorce was only an option for the very wealthy and well connected. It is an issue he returns to in John Caldigate. He also looks at the question of primogeniture, at sexual desires in ways that conventional morality doesn't take into account, and at these desires when they occur between people society says it is not supposed to occur between. I'm not talking pederasty, but rather the desire of an older woman for a younger man who loves her daughter, and the jealousy of that older woman towards her daughter. We have an attempt to deal with the religious bigotry, and of course the burning issue of the famine and Ireland itself. As I say, the last was to me wholly inadequately dealt with, but in Trollope's own time many people would not even be willing to speak of it, much less present the problem so graphically and powerfully.

So when we compare Castle Richmond to Framley Parsonage in terms of aim, seriousness of original intent, and authenticity (he chose the subject of CR on his own; FP was a novel written to order in the manner of Trollope's Christmas stories, and we have his opinion of that kind of thing in his Autobiography), CR comes off well. To quote Johnson when he talked about Shakespeare's plays and compared them to those of his age and the opportunities Shakespeare had to write this or that way, "how far a man may extend his designs, or how high he may rate is nature force, is of far greater dignity than in what rank we shall place an particular performance."

To Trollope list

Jannuary 30, 1997

To Trollope List

Re: Castle Richmond: His Six Letters

And I would like to respond to her posting that I think she and I are basically in most things in agreement. I think it was brave and decent and also even "far-seeing and balanced" for Trollope to write a book on the famine in Ireland; I believe I tried to say that in both postings. I also was much moved by the horror and terribly painful descriptions of the Irish in the novel. I posted an earlier piece on the Autobiography and Ireland in which I quoted one of these.

But I would like respectfully to take issue with the first part of her comment: "While he neither agrees nor disagrees with the government policy of requesting work for food, in fact he ridicules it in Chapter XVIII." Trollope explicitly and several times makes a point to support the government policy of requesting work for food. I quoted one of these in my original posting:

"then two great rules seemed to get themselves laid down--not by general consent, for there were many who greatly contested their wisdom--but by some force strong enough to make itself dominant. The first was, that the food to be provided should be earned and not given away. And the second was, that the providing of that food should be left to private competition, and not in any way be undertaken by the Govenrment. I make bold to say that both these rules were wise and good" (Chapter 18, p 200).

There are a number of other places where he alludes to this idea or repeats it--and in none of these is there any irony at all in his tone. He means it. I agree that he ridicules and reveals as absurd, demeaning, and useless--indeed counterproductive in the sense that the men working under their ignorant leader seem to be ruining the road--the work the men are asked to do in order to gain the money to buy the almost inedible Indian meal (inedible because the Irish didn't know how to cook it says Trollope). But how can we dismiss an explicit statement like the above. Are we to choose which explicit statement we are to believe, and say of those we don't like that well, that's there in order to soothe or reassure the publisher so that he will publish my work? If we had a letter in which Trollope privately told a friend he did not mean what he explicitly says was one of the purposes of the novel--to support the Government policy of demanding money for food and of demanding that people go to the poorhouse to get it if they didn't have money--I would dearly love to know about it. I could then return to the novel and see it anew. But if no such letter exists, is not such a supposition something we would love to believe since it fits in with our point of view? What is then to stop us from choosing and rejecting other such unironic explicit statements as sincere or fronts to get published in accordance with our own beliefs?

Trollope's Irish experience and novels are central not only to his life but to understanding some of the political facets of his work both in fiction and in his travel books.

Ellen Moody

ITo Trollope List

February 2, 1997

Re: Castle Richmond: And Other Irish Novels?

Reading over Imme Mallins's posting some more, and also David Christie's I'd like to say that part of the problem one has in discussing not only Castle Richmond but Trollope's other Irish novels is we don't have sufficient context, and the context I refer to is not so much the politics and what this newspaper printed or that public figure believed or thought it in his interest to say, but what was written in other Irish_ novels or novels about Ireland of the period. One ought to read Lever whom Trollope admires. Equally Maria Edgeworth whom Trollope praises highly in his Autobiography and somewhere in this or another book tells how he went past her house giving me the feeling he regarded it as a kind of shrine to a great and important writer of Irish novels, for I think that is how he mentions her--as a regional and socially-concerned novelist. Maybe too if one can find any, one ought to read some stories and essays by English or Scottish writers about Ireland. Thackeray has a book of sketches.

For myself the other day I noticed that at the end of her peroration about what great genius goes into novels, and how terrible it is they are scorned by snobs and elitists and fools who prefer to preen themselves on reading the latest dull collection of the poets the establishment has agreed to priaise, Jane Austen to instance such a great novelist and novel gives us Belinda. This is a novel by Maria Edgeworth. Austen also much admired Patronage. Marilyn Butler's book goes on about how they are good and socially concerned and interesting. So I shall get into Castle Rackrent whose title echoes Castle Richmond and whose hero is called Thady (as is of course the tragic hero of The Macdermots whom I wept over). At GMU we have a row of Lever novels. Maybe I can get through one. Does anyone know enough about Lever (to know anything at all is to know more than I do except what Trollope and the introducers of his Irish novels have to say) to advise me which one I ought to choose?

Then I shall report back and tell a bit about what I discovered at least in a couple of Irish and other contemporary fictions about Ireland.

Ellen Moody

If you like Fielding, then try "Harry Lorrequer"

Contact Ellen Moody.
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