Is He Popenjoy?
Charles Green, "Thinking and Wishing," The Churchman's Family Magazine, 1864: Mary after Marriage; see also, Kate Aldous's Is He Popenjoy?
In October of the year 2000 a group of us on Trollope-l embarked on another journey through
a series of Trollope novels. We had just finished the Barsetshire series and decided we would
try a group of later lesser-known novels. At first we decided we would read two which were
thought to be diametrically opposed in mood: the first, Is He Popenjoy? said to be
bitter, dark, arid (first published 1877) and the second, Ayala's Angel (first published
1880), said to be bright and cheerful, a "proof" that Trollope was not disillusioned and a writer of
unrelievedly "dark" books later in life. However, as we went on, we decided to add a third lesser
known book because several of us who had read it thought it a powerful masterpiece about
bigamy, John Caldigate (first published 1879). A slow reading through these books
discovered much about the psychological and autobiographical underpinnings of Trollope's work.
Many people did have trouble getting the books -- or failed to get a copy altogether. So this
read had less participants than our journey through Barsetshire. As had become my custom by
this time, each week I wrote an essay or essays in the form of postings to Trollope-l on the
chapters we were to have read for that week. Most of mine remained close readings of the text;
as I had been reading theoretical criticism, for the first time I began to write psychoanalytically
and from a feminist and political point of view on Trollope's fiction. I also produced readings
"against the grain". Some of the members of Trollope-l joined in with me; some objected to this
new way of reading the books. The conversation took very different turns at times, but, as they
had in the past, members still remarked on whether they liked or didn't like Trollope's characters,
and scenes and responded to his themes out of their own perspectives, and it seems to me that
the new deconstructionist readings provoked more and more interesting postings on the book
than the more traditional close readings I had produced in the past. I also kept up the habit of
describing the illustrations: this time in all three cases I described the modern illustrations which
accompany the Folio Society editions of Trollope's novels.
Participants included Clarissa Ackroyd, Gwyn Bailey, Catherine Crean, Sigmund Eisner, Thilde Fox, Judy Geater, Wayne
Gisslen, Lisa Guardini, Kristi Jalics, Beth J., Kishor Kale, RJKeefe, John Letts, Pat Mahoney, Howard Merkin, Richard Mintz, Rory
O'Farrell, Teresa Ransom, Gene Stratton, Tyler Tichelaar, Judy Warner, Dagny Wilson, Todd Yelrom.
As in some previous conversations, I was not able to divide up the text by volume partly
because modern editions do not follow the original divisions. Trollope had a hard time placing
this novel. He wrote it between 12 October 1874 and 3 May 1875, and it was first serialized in
All the Year Round, between 13 October 1877 and 1 July 1878. The editor of this
journal was Dickens's son who proceeded to bowdlerize it; it was not accompanied by
illustrations. It appeared each week at the rate of one or two chapter each week in forty
instalments. I have followed this instalment arrangement although it makes havoc with the
volume divisions when the book was published in 1878 by Chapman and Hall; I indicate these
divisions below for those who are interested.
- October 8: Introduction: Not a Lot to Say About Editions or
Recorded Reader Responses; Some Recent Essayists; Wonderful & Exciting!; Is He
Popenjoy? as One of Trollope's Very Best Efforts.
- October 15: Instalments 1-4, Volume I, Chs 1-5:
Margaret Markwick on Is He Popenjoy?; Love, Sex & Marriage; Mrs Tallowax;
Authorial Intrusions; 'You wish, Mary, to be one of us, do you not?': Close Connections Between
He Knew He Was Right and Is He Popenjoy?; Is He
Popenjoy?, Chs 1-5: Self-Reflexive Opening: The Dr Thorne Paradigm; Mary
Lovelace; "Middle" Trollope; Unprofaned and profaned Beds; Trollope's Middle or Late Period:
Aridity;Is He Popenjoy? - heroes and villains (and their feminine counterparts);
Is He Popenjoy? and Vanity Fair: Unconventional and Conventional
- October 22: Instalments 5-8, Chs 6-12: The Dashing Captain; Hero
and Heroine; Sexuality; Sexually Inadequate Hero and Aggressive Heroines; Is He
Popenjoy? and Mansfield Park; Thwarting Your Reader's Expectations; A
Hard Rough World; Petticoats; Just say no to Pallisers!; Trollope's Young Sexually
Inexperienced Women (was "Trollope's Late Period?"); Mrs. Houghton's breathtaking cynicism;
- October 29: Instalments 9-12, Chs 13-17: How Large Is Brotherton;
Augusta Mildmay; Late Pace and Style; The 'Disabilities'; A Great Line; Petticoats; Jack de
Baron and Baroness Banman; The Three Options; Sex & Betrayal & Contraception; Sex &
Betrayal & Old Maids; (Philip Larkin's) "Annus Mirabulus" and "Love"; The Response from
Contemporary Reviewers; The Marquis of Brotherton Arrives; From a Distance and Philip
Larkin's "High Windows"; Is He Popenjoy? and The Way We Live Now;
Mores of Any Period.
- November 5: Instalments 13-16, Chs 18-23 (or 18-21 & Volume II, 1-
2): The Chilling Marquis and Raw Talk; The Insufferable Mother; A Vein of Intense
Mockery; A Dark Mirror; Adelaide Houghton--did she set up Lord George?; The Marquis of
Brotherton: A Bully with Syphilis? As Unmeaning Comic Relief?; Is He Popenjoy?:
Hard Satire; The Marquis of Brotherton Again; Syphilis: the symptoms we might expect.
- November 12: Instalments 17-20, Chs 24-29 (II:3-8): Trollope's
Naming of Characters; Back to the Disabilities; Lord George; Mary & George or Sex & Power;
Mary and Augusta; Swarthy; Who Will Bell the Cat? (George's Alleged Impotence); George and
- November 19: Instalments 21-24, Chs 30-37 (II:9-16): Sex, Pride &
Coldness; A Double Standard & Attitudes to Sex, Caste Arrogance, & Marriage
- November 26: Instalments 25-28, Chs 38-45 (or 17-20 & Volume III:1-4):
Climax; That word!; The word is probably 'harlot'; The Psychoanalytical Perspective; Dancing,
Mary and the Dean; Dancing and Evangelicals: Is he Popenjoy? and Rachel
Ray; Tame that woman down!
- December 3: Instaments 29-32, Chs 46-52 (III:5-11): Deepening like a
Coastal Shelf; "The poor beggar hadn't much life
in him ..."; Heroism in Is He Popenjoy; The Dean's Paradox; Is He
Popenjoy?: What Has Been Accomplished?; IHP: The Dean Who Looks
Forward to the Death of a Child; Feminism in Is He Popenjoy?
- December 10: Instalments 33-36, Chs 53-59 (III:6-18): Is it
Misogynous?; Is it Misanthropic?; em>Is He Popenjoy?: People of Rank Should Not be
Subject to Such an Annoyance!; Mary's reaction to Adelaide; The Final Letters
- December 17: Instalments 37-40, Chs 59-64 (III:19-23): Who Was
Popenjoy?; The Return to Ironic Comedy; The Underlying Calendar; In the Opening was the Ending
About the Illustrations by
Ernest Arthur Rowe (d. 1922), The Gardens at Campsea Ashe, Watercolour
Contact Ellen Moody.
Page Last Updated 11 January 2003