September 14, 2001
Re: Castle Richmond: The Pictures for Volume I
I thank Dagny for encouragement, and Jeremy for beginning to post on Castle Richmond again.
I have not been posting on the illustrations to the Folio Society edition of Castle Richmond. Partly I have been so very busy; I admit I have begun to tire of describing the illustrations to Trollope's novels (both the original and these moderno ones)., tired of it; and then, we've been reading slowly, and I had been seeing the quality of the drawing by Rod Walter (the illustrator for the Folio Society edition) as poor -- if we look at his work from a realistic point of view. The bodies of the characters don't make much sense from the point of view of physiognomy; they look overthin; the tops of characters' bodies are too short; their hands seem so large, indeed enormous in contrast. There is little effort at 3-D perspective; indeed the background to some of them is very hazy.
Well I've changed my mind -- or, to put it less certainly -- tonight I am disposed to suggest that the drawing of the illustrations to the recent Folio Society edition of Castle Richmond may be meant to be expressionistic. All of them uniformly have elongated figures which are darkly shaded; they have long faces; dark emotional or brooding eyes. In a couple of cases the picture leaves an inky feel of conspiracy, with very dark coloring in of the male's suits (the Molletts), sharp faces, long fingers on the hands of the figures. The pictures are of figures who live haunted lives in shadows. The style reminds me of the illustrations I looked at in the William Carleton and 19th century Irish fiction about the famine. They too are melodramatic and unrealistic -- or haunted and elongated in the same way.
Volume I which we were scheduled to finish sometime this week has five illustrations. The first, the frontispiece, focuses on the moment when Clara, Lady Desmond, accepts Owen Fitzgerald. The caption is "'I love you with all my heart'" (Folio Society Castle Richmond, p. 25, frontispiece):
We see from some point below, a thin Clara standing in the wind, her eyes are full of life but darkened with a kind of eager poignant emotion, her hands are pressing her tightly strained chest; she looks down to a young man we see from the back; he is not dressed well, though his white shirt looks like it originally was full; his hand is stretched out as he looks up and appeals to her; the sky moves with clouds.
The fourth in the volume shows us Clara again:
This time she is in deep reverie. We are above her this time: she clings to a curtain which hangs over one part of the picture frame; she looks to the side, her eyes are sensual dreamy this time. You'd think it was the Countess of Desmond waiting at the window: I suggest the illustrator wanted us to see mother and daughter as doubles of one another. Clara's hair is tied behind her head; there are wispy bands hanging over her forehead. Behind her is a bare room. She has this thin, elongated body, but her breasts are clearly in prominence inside her dress. The caption is "Her eye, looking out into the darkness, could not but see another figure" (p. 114 and facing illustration).
We are not quite finished with Eros, for there is a counter or ironic stream to this intense romance. The fifth illustration of the volume shows us Fanny fending off Aby Mollett. Now we look at two figures pictured on a kind of stage; we are in the first row of the theatre looking close up. The illustrator, Rod Waters, draws Aby as anything but attractive: we see a man with a face that has dark lines; his eyes look tired, shady, like someone who is often drunk; his hair is rough cut and dark. He has a sort of shabby suit on and he leans over a young woman who holds her hand up to his face. Her dress is low cut; she too has these terribly thin arms and elongated fingers. The foot that peeps from under her dress is thin and seems out of perspective with the rest of her body. It steps forward and suddenly we jump (a deliberate gap in perspective) and frontstage are broken liquor bottles. The room has not much space; they are hemmed in by shelves with further bottles. To the right a bell hangs from the ceiling. The caption is "Come, Fan, what's a kiss among friends" (p. 141 and facing illustration).
Two illustrations for Volume I focus in on the blackmail theme. The first of the two (second illustration in the book) is well done:
It reminds me of a scene in a movie: we look from below at two men sitting at a table. All is darkened with many lines and shades; their faces have gastly kinds of shadows and bony structures; their hair is dark; long thin fingers gesture to one another over a talbe on which are two drinks and a large luminous candle. There's a small mirror on a near-by wall. Film noir is what I think of. Here are Mr Mollett and Aby discussing how to wrest what they can from the tortured Sir Thomas. The caption is "H-h-sh, Aby. There's that confounded long-eared fellow" (p. 60 and facing illustration).
The last and fifth illustration of the Volume is meant as a parallel drawing but the figures are too thin, too distanced, and Sir Thomas looks too young at his desk; his body is also sunk down in his hair with too big a lower body, unless again we are to see these pictures as deliberately distorted:
At the door a thin Herbert stands, attempting to usher a wizened sort of small vulgarish man out (Aby) Herbert's hair is unkempt Again we have many dark lines, shadows, this time with white left on the ceiling for a suggestion of glaring light and a full bookcase at the backwall. The caption is "'You can go now, sir; I cannot hear more from you'" (p. 170 and facing illustration). Sir Thomas cannot bear Aby's presence a moment longer.
I saved the not very well drawn but striking picture of the women of the village coming to the Fitzgerald girls to get their Indian corn:
This one reminds me strikingly of some illustrations I saw in William Carleton's The Black Prophet. It is the third in the volume, placed at midpoint. A haggard, painfully thin, poorly dressed woman with a face that is very angry, and a tiny baby held in her arms stands at a sort of window. The window is really a bare space above half a door. It serves as an interface. On the other side stands a gentlewoman who is a lady who looks perplexed. She holds her hand to her chin as if she doesn't know quite what to do. Her hair is wispy, but her gown is full, thick, in good condition if not fancy. As in a baroque painting (like the second depiction of Clara), there is a curtain lifted, this time on the right side; it lays half on a chair. It is underneath and to the side of the curtain that we see the perplexed and uncomfortable gentlewoman. There are again many dark lines and shadows in the picture. The caption is "Look at that, madam" (p. 82 and facing illustration).
Six pictures, two of intense stressed romance, one of sordid sex; two more of conspiracy and menace; a final of desperate hunger. They tell their own tale.
Date: Sat, 15 Sep 2001
Thanks Ellen for posting the pictures.
Clara standing in the wind, her eyes are full of life but darkened with a kind of eager poignant emotion
The picture of Clara with Owen now seems rather sad in light of what we know later, that she is now engaged to Herbert, but still thinking of Owen and knowing that being with Herbert doesn't give her the tingly thrill she experienced with Owen.
And speaking of Herbert, the last illustration doesn't seem to ring true with it's portrayal of him. Ellen mentioned that these drawings were not too well done. Somehow I can't feature Herbert with unkempt hair, no matter what the situation or stress. He doesn't seem like the type to run his fingers through his hair in despair.
The picture of the two Molletts which Ellen said reminded her of film noir is just how I pictured it. That is just what I thought of when I read the scene.
The picture of Fanny fending off Aby, the younger Mollett is interesting. At this point in the story Fanny has ideas that maybe she will become Mrs. Mollett. We know now that she has changed her mind later. He seems quite disagreeable in the picture. We are not seeing him through Fanny's eyes as she might have thought of him at the time, but as he appears to others, strangers. She may be having, even then, a foreshadowing of how she will come to think of him later. Or is she just being coy and playing a game?
Re: Castle Richmond, Pictures to Volume I
Dear Dagny and all,
When I first looked at Rod Walter's illustrations to Castle Richmond for the Folio Society edition, I was surprised to see how unrealistic the figures were. My first reaction was to see them simply as "poor": they reminded me of the illustrations I had seen in William Carleton and other novelists of the period. The figures are especially like in the ways in which they are two-dimensionally thin. I was surprized because nowadays when someone commissions someone to draw illustrations for a book intended to reach a well-heeled audience, one which will not be cheap, the illustrator will be reasonably paid. Why else go to the trouble of having them? Why bother drop them into the right spot in the book? Illustrations are no longer expected.
Looking at the whole set more carefully though I now grasp that Walter deliberately draws figures which are hollowed out, darkened, strained, and not 3rd dimensional. It's not that he can't draw finely and effectively: the colouring in all of them is superb, meaning the brush work and haunting effects in sky (where there is sky). The background to each, the perspective taken make an appropriate emotional backdrop to each scene. A couple use of the device of someone pulling a curtain to the side and allowing the viewer to see the scene. I think of the visual arts at the turn of the century where painters turned away from pictures which were nearly photographic in their apprehension of space and features and details in our visual range. Walter is capable of drawing such a picture: he doesn't want to. This is especially clear in the depiction of the Molletts sitting over the table plotting. There one can see expert drawing of faces from a camera point of view below them so we can get harsh angular light.
Herbert is not the only figure to have unkempt hair: none of the figures have hair which looks smooth -- the sort of opulent calm that signifies someone who has just come from a beauty parlour. Walter is depicting the general distress and discomfort and awkwardness of life in very strained conditions with few ameliorations even for the wealthy. Herbert himself is also puzzled, dismayed, disappointed, and feels helpless. Thus the way he is drawn is psychologically and sociologically appropriate to the story. It's not quite expressionistic since you can -- as I have just done -- suggest social reasons for it, but it is semi-expressionistic.
This set of drawings makes an interesting contrast to the overtly pretty-picturesque set the artist for Ayala's Angel drew.
Cheers to all,
October 1, 2001
Re: Castle Richmond: The Pictures for Volume 2 (I)
There are six full-page illustrations in the Folio Society edition of Castle Richmond. All are drawn in the same dramatic dark style, with elongated figures, and a perspective which puts the viewer at a skewed distance from the figures. They could be called gothic expressionism.
There are again interesting echoes or closely similar figures in them. In the first which opens the volume and the last which closes it we see a thin woman whose narrow chest supports prominent yet thin breasts under a tightly pulled blouse. The women have dark shadows on their faces. The first is one of the most moving moments of the depiction of famine in the book. The caption is, "Is it the poorhouse, yer honor?":
We look down with Herbert Fitzgerald upon a woman who is kneeling, her bony arms holding onto a dark coat. Folded into her right arms is a tiny baby; there seems to be a child in shadows to her left; it is painfully thin, fading away into the shadows: this is the visualization of the lines:
"It was a child nearly two years of age, but its little legs seem to have withered away; its cheeks were wan, and yellow and sunken, and the two teeth which it had already cut were seen with terrible plainness through its emaciated lips Its head and forehead were covered with sores; and then the mother, moving aside the rags, showed that its back and legs were in the same state" (Folio Society Castle Richmond, p. 185 and facing illustration.
To her back are two more children and directly behind her stands another woman holding a jacket tightly over a dress. This last woman seems to grow larger at the top of the picture, sort of looming over it. This is the scene where Herbert tells the woman he cannot help her for the law requires her to use her ticket to go to a poorhouse. The text next to the picture is the one where Herbert argues with Clara over the justice of such a demand. The picture critiques the dialogue betwen Herbert and Clara, and we listen to the woman speak. The word "imploring is repeated. Had Herbert not relented, we would detest him.
In the last & sixth illustration which closes the volume we see a similarly drawn woman; instead of a sweaty look on her face, she simply looks dark, drawn:
The second and third illustrations are given over to the Mollett plot. In the second we look as from a great height down on a room:
A tiny unsure figure of a man is entering; facing us is another man, who looks like a brooding sinister wizard in a suit; the white of his skin contrasts ot the dark of his suit. His hands form a triangle as he presses the tips of his fingers together. The man in the back cannot see who is in the chair. The room is bare but respectable: to the right a couch by a window which has curtain; tothe left a table with a skirted tablecloth. There are pictures on the wall; there is a tall white candle at the edge of each side of the picture to the front. We see a male servant peeking past a half-open door. The caption: "The gentleman to wait upon Sir Thomas, said Richard (p. 224 and facing illustration). This is the moment before Mr Mollett is confronted by Mr Prendergast. As I remarked earlier, "gast" includes in it the old English word for ghost. Waters has given us a take on Mr Prendergast which emphasizes his inexorableness and thin anger, how he appears to Mollett. There are long shadows thrown everywhere. By the side of Prendergast is a dark table with a small figure on it. If you look at Trollope's text carefully you do see there is something of a hallucinative feel to the moment; that Mollett wants to flee the man with the "terrible grey eye" who rounds on him.
The third illustration shows us Aby up in the morning to the far side of a room while his father sleeps in bed.:
Again the picture is done with striking dark lines on the faces so that the faces of the figures look stressed, dirty, strained. Aby looks slightly mad as he looks down on his body and attempts to put on his trousers quietly. He is wearing a blouse-y shirt; his hair looks a mess. Through the window we can see early morning coming through. The room is a respectable inn room, with the bed realistically drawn as an iron bedstead and crumpled clothes. The back of the room is done exquisitely: we see two shelves of books; a space of wall, two desk drawers; the outline of the rails of a second bed. The lights are glowing circles on stands. The caption this time is "But the governor was wide awake, looking at him out of the corner of his closed eye" (p. 253 and facing illustration). The words make us look at the eyes of the figure in the bed, and sure enough the lids have a slit. There is then a sardonic humour here: Abby need not dress so stealthily.
I would say all four pictures add to the text, enrich it, make comments on it. They are darkly vivid.
So this volume opened and closed with a focus on women in grief and the the first pair inside the volume on a view of the Mollett story as frantic.
Re: Castle Richmond: The Pictures for Volume 2 (II)
The fourth and fifth illustrations in the second volume of Castle Richmond focus on the two young heroes, on the love story in crisis.
The fourth occurs outside. It is a depiction of Herbert walking on a stone path; he is soaked in the drizzling rain:
He holds his face up. He is entering the gate of Desmond Court, but in this picture the gate consists of a space between a gothic sort of ruined wall on one side (complete with crumbling hole and narrow windows) and a kind of white arch over the picture itself on the other. This white arch gives the illustration a feeling of a framed Renaissance drawing. There are leaves along the edge of the white arch. Through the round arch we see a landscape which stretches out: its looks wet, cut up into squares, towers and tiny huts, straggy trees. The caption here is "In what words was he to break the news?" (p. 279 and facing illustration). Water has gotten the feel of a young man deeply absorbed in wrenching thought so that his body strains upwards and yet behind him too -- he holds a hat to his back apart from him, a cane, his boots look sodden. Trollope makes a point of this in the scene with the Countess. It gives her a chance to despise him. (Trollope does not treat the Countess favorably in this week's chapters at all.)
The fifth illustration is a visualization of Herbert and Owen Fitzgerald while Owen is reading the loving letter Lady Clara has sent Herbert:
The two young men are in a bare room. We see Herbert sitting on a chair; in this drawing he does indeed look precise, respectable, quietly well-groomed. As in all the pictures of him (he has been in four thus far, four out of twelve), he wears a jacket, waistcoat, trousers, collar. He sits on a chair looking away from Owen on the floor. Owen is much more carelessly dressed: he has rougher trousers; his shrirt is full but not fine. It is not fully buttoned. He sits on a higher straw chair near the window, looking down intently at the letter. The room has a fireplace not lit, a picture of a landscape on one wall. As in the picture of the death scene of Sir Thomas, the lights are not garish, but greying, and the shadowy lines are not stressed, but simply drawn in parallels to make for shades. The caption this time is about Lady Clara's words to Herbert which Owen is reading: "They were so tenderly worded, so sweet, so generous!" (p. 324 and facing illustration). This is a good choice of moment, for Owen's face is drawn in hard lines and we read Trollope's words which follow the caption:
"He would have given all the world to have had those letters addressed by her to himself. but even they did not convince him. His heart had never changed, and he could not believe that there had been any change in hers".
This set of illustrations reveals how in each case of the Folio Society drawings the artist has deliberately chosen an appropriate style -- for of those I have looked at thus far each has differed, some more strongly than others. In each case the artist produced a reading of the novel through the pictures. Waters did not choose his moments equally across the narrative. For example, the fifth and sixth illustration for this second volume come closely together in the chapter called "Pallida Mors". He emphasized the famine through the way he depicted elongated figures, the intense melodrama of the romance through expressionist perspectives and use of harsh darkness and plain whites. This set is the most individual style thus far, the least comic. It's the most interestingly drawn of the sets I have looked at thus far.
Cheers to all,
October 21, 2001
Re: Castle Richmond, The Pictures in Volume 3
The last sentence of Castle Richmond is ambiguous:
"But there is yet one left who thinks of him [Owen Fitzgerald], hoping that she may yet see him before she dies" (Oxford Classics Castle Richmond, ed MHamer, p. 492).
"The one left" could be Clara, but I suspect Trollope meant us to think more of the Countess. Although the Countess is unfair when she calls her daughter cold, we have seen enough of Clara's gradual change of heart, relationship with Herbert when he was "down and out", and contentment in her new (and for the first time in her life) comfortable and kind home, to feel that she no longer needs to hope for anything from Owen. The final sentence of the penultimate chapter refers us to the Countess:
"Unfortunate girl, marred in thy childhood by that wrinkled earl with the gloating eyes; or marred rather by thine own vanity! Those flesh-pots of Egypt! Are they not always bitter in the eating? (p. 487).
Until Wayne brought up the Marschallin (spelling?), I had always thought of other female characters in Trollope whose stories resemble the Countess's: Lady Julia Brabazon who similarly marries a sexually avaricious and mean Earl (The Claverings), Lady Laura Kennedy who marries for ambition and ends up frustrated, bitter, alone (Phineas I and II) are two powerful cases. Wayne's analogy brings out the kindness Trollope shows for the Countess in her last scene with Owen where he never so much as allows her to know he understood her wild need because (apparently) this Hippolytus- type when it comes to the Countess (my analogy is with Euripides's character's response to Phaedra) feels no desire. We are to feel sorry for her that he stands there so austere, so unmoved, so non-giving:
"He had been very stern. She had laid bare to him her whole heart, and he had answered her love by never a word. He had made no reply in any shape, -- given her not thanks for her heart's treasure. He had responded to her affection by no tenderness . He had not even said that this might have been so ..." (p. 487).
To me one of the fouler lines of the scene is when Trollope suggests that had Owen yield he would have gone home "bitter" because he had "left the woman triumphant" (p. 485). It is foul because Trollope assumes that the young man could not have loved this woman; it had to be fake. This is to see love as never for a moment a thing apart from conquest, power, domination, and it is not true to the rest of the scene where the Countess is giving her all, humiliating herself in her "broken-hearted"ness. There is also no disgust in the scene as dramatized, and Trollope says most men would have been moved. Owen, though, is "not to be enticed by pity into a bastard feeling which would die away when the tenderness of the moment was no longer present to his eye and touch" (p. 485). On the other hand, Trollope is himself not very old as yet and the later novels where he laments how older people in love feel (Mr Whittlestaff, Mr Underdown) are far in the future. At any rare he has made -- and it's in character -- Owen at this point more of a prig than Herbert, more rigid, more austere; it was at this moment I felt Clara had made the wiser choice going with Herbert who does show pity when he encounters the terrors of life face-to-face.
There's a curious subtheme in this book: Trollope is thinking about how differently people live who do not come face-to-face and and those who do, and when they chose to. The Countess has lived apart; so too Owen; Sir Thomas has and so too Lady Fitzgerald, the lawyer, Prendergast when he can. Little things in the book refer to this. At one point Owen says to Patrick, the young earl, they should tell each other what they really feel now because they have met: "If people are honest they had always better say to each other's faces that which they have to say" (Ch 38, p. 428). Owen Fitzgerald is, however, a man who rarely "shows himself (Ch 43, p. 478) and therefore cannot be popular. Prendergast says a couple of times how important it is to deal with people face-to-face, and how those who can't lose life's battles. He's thinking of Sir Thomas but it applies to other figures in the book.
The last illustration in the book is of the Countess, and the caption is "But I need not tell you more. You will know it all". (Folio Society Castle Richmond, p 472 and facing illustration). This is a line from the Countess's scene with Owen:
The depiction focuses on the Countess's face; she is in the same theatrical darkness and light on pencilled shadows of all the illustrations of the Folio Society book. But she is not so elongated, not so agonized as all the other women thus far: her eyes are closed; her face smooth; she presses a piece of curtain to the side of her head, one we guess she is standing against (we only see her from the shoulders up). Her hands are well-made, long fingers, a wedding ring clearly seen. The first illustration in the Folio book is of the daughter leaning over to Owen, both in the wind, she clutching her chest with her hand (frontispiece to Folio Society edition). The illustrator, Rod Waters has framed the book with the story of Desmond Castle and Hap House: and it is true to the text for we do start out with Clara and Owen and the Countess and end on Owen's exile and the Countess alone. I suddenly remember that the last page of Lady Anna leaves us with that determined Countess all alone still mirroring in her mind what she assumes others will think of her, still letting it control her conduct. This Countess would have dropped that.
I had not seen the importance of Lady Fitzgerald before this read. There is a striking illustration of her too: an elongated view of her leaning over her husband's bed as he lays dying, she in a posture which recalls the illustrations of the beggar women who confront Herbert (Folio Society Castle Richmond, p. 331 and facing illustration, p. 185 and facing illustration). Now I see there are three significant women in the articulated or central plot: two older ones whose lives end tragically, and are both kept at the margins, and the one who we last see married. Clara's wedding is we are told "so quiet and sombre". The novel ends in the second year of the famine, and one of the reasons it's good Herbert has come back is he sets to work to do what he can to alleviate suffering. Owen never seemed to be aware there was a world outside his consciousness.
There are also the several beggar women. These Rod Waters provides illustrations for: each and every one: there is the depiction of the women who accosted and complained to the Fitzgerald girls when they gave her inedible yellow maize (Folio Society, p. 82 and facing illustration), the woman whom Herbert at first tells she must go to the poorhouse (p. 185 and facing illustration) and the most devastating of all in this last volume, the woman who he watches starving to death with her baby (p. 361):
This illustration is also in the closing part of the volume: unlike the Victorian illustration which often is reprinted and can be found not on in Trollopiana but in one of the illustrations to my book where we see a young gentleman with top hat seated far apart from a figure seen far apart from him, dim, misty, hardly visible though clearly miserable, Waters draws the gentleman sitting close to the woman and draws her large, half naked, holding an emaciated baby, again the colours dramatic blacks and whites and lined greys. The caption: "Is she not cold? he said again" (p. 361 and facing illustration). The answer is no, she's dead.
This last volume also introduced us to Mollett's women, Mary Swan and her mother. They have been supporting this man between swindles. Waters depicts them too. The penultimate illustration in the Folio Society edition of Castle Richmond is of the two women surrounding the aging Mollett who looks weak, nervous, ashamed. He sits on a shoft chair; his daughter half-kneels in front of him: she looks hale and hearty, stronger than any woman we've seen thus far (she reminds me of the actress who played Fanny Price in the most recent film adaptation of Austen's Mansfield Park). Leaning over his chair is the aging wife. The room is bare, but decently furnished with a half-mannikan on one side. The women sew for a living. Mr Prendergast in the deep background, leaning against a wall, his hand on the fireplace mantelpiece. The caption is the daughter's words: "Father, why don't you behave like a man and speak" (p. 438 and facing illustration). Mr Prendergast has just said "Come, Mr Mollett, answer me, if you do not wish me to have you dragged out of this by a policeman and taken at once before a magistrate" (p. 438).
I have now described all but one illustration in the Folio Society edition: the antepenultimate or third from the last. It matches the two of Herbert and Owen Fitzgerald talking: now we have Owen Fitzgerald and Patrick, Earl of Desmond:
This one matches those as again we have Owen looking absorbed, deep in thought while the other male seems to be reasoning with him. The caption is "I am Owen Fitzgerald of Hap House, now as I have ever been, that and nothing more" (p. 394 and facing illustration). Reminds me of the melodrama of Hamlet: I am Hamlet the Dane. Owen looks down; we see him from the side. Facing us over a table with his hand held up and his eyes filled with reason, trying to make eye contact with Owen is a young blonde Patrick, dressed in a waistcoat and shirt sleeves, no collar. The window behind them shows a light sky and the room is filled with light. The illustration captures the mood of Trollope's text: the man who cannot bend, but with whom we are to sympathize. In the text facing the illustration Owen is saying that Lady Fitzgerald is as far as he can see the real wife of Sir Thomas, the property and title Herbert's, and he would be thief to exploit this and take the property in order to buy Clara on the Countess of Desmond's terms.
Castle Richmond is a fascinating book and the illustrations seem to me the best set of modern ones I've looked at thus far. Each is a kind of holograph of the novel and they retell the story with emphases the illustrator expects the 20th century reader will appreciate.