We are two part-time academics. Ellen teaches in the English department and Jim in the IT program at George Mason University.

Anthony Trollope, Exeter, Summer 2006 · 2 March 07

Dear Marianne,

You will recall that late in July of last year I and Edward went to a Trollope conference held in Exeter where I gave a paper I called "Trollope’s Comfort Romances for Men.". We lived in a clock tower by the sea in Lympstone Village.

Remembering that happy week, I include an image of John Atkinson Grimshaw’s painting of a bridge in a rural Yorkshire on an early spring morning in 1867:

I wrote you three letters reporting the papers and conversation I heard and participated in. In the first I first focused on what in retrospect seems to me now to have been the best paper at the conference: Robert Polhemus’s key note address about the frequent deeply felt relationships in Trollope’s fiction between older men and younger women. In the second I reported on Deborah Morse’s post-colonial perspective on He Knew He Was Right, along with many others (the second day of the conference was the longest and included many papers). In the third I told about a panel which included Margaret Markwick’s iconoclastic paper arguing for the presence of homosexuality in Trollope by making visible Trollope’s flexible and tolerant attitude towards loving relationships between men. I also told of the concluding plenary session where all participants got together and really talked for 2 hours about how to improve Trollope’s reputation, why we should argue for studying Trollope, and (a real concern with some of the people), how change the perception of his work in the media and fan clubs from the idea they reflect a Tory and John Bull view of the world to the idea they reflect the views of a thoughtful enlightened compassionate man whose politicsa are ultimately liberal for our own time.

I then took these letters and turned them into a chronological document reporting on the conference from opening to conclusion.

Throughout both sets of reports I emphasized how much it meant to me that two friends from Trollope-l, Nick Hay, and Clare Shepherd were there with me.

Nick has now returned to Trollope-l (we are reading Trollope’s almost astonishing The Bertrams) and resumed blogging. On his blog he has place three excellent reports of the three days of talks he heard. In his first he agreed with me about the excellence of Robert Polhemus’s paper, and then went on to summarize three I had not heard, in particular one called "Dangerous Liaisons" by Lynn Parker. In his second, he summarized Stephen Amarnack’s new paper on The Duke’s Children. Amarnack has changed his mind and now thinks the unabridged original text of this novel is the superior one and seeks to publish it. Nick found Lauren Goodlad’s paper on Trollope’s rejection of liberal and radical imperialism. In his third, he again managed to hear different papers from the ones I did, but he also went to the plenary session and made the important point and qualification that

"that despite all that can said to the contrary there are limits to Trollope’s radicalism. Nothing and no-one is going to turn him into a socialist. But the point which occurs to me subsequently is that I am not sure I even approve of this sort of approach."

Between Nick and I we have now made a record of what was said so that even if most of it is never published or published in some different form and scattered places, it can be found and retrieved in something of its original shape and place here on the Net.

I’d like to say I am puzzled about how many conferences occur where no attempt is made to report or comment on the papers given. I realize how expensive publication is, and how only a small percentage of the many papers given are of interest to sufficient numbers of the general public to warrant a publisher investing in the expense of an edition of academic papers. However, we now have this World Wide Web, and yet only a small percentage of people report on what they’ve heard or comment on it, or put their own papers on. The only explanation (beyond laziness and the lack of some tangible recognition or reward for doing it) I can come up with is people who are academics feel it’s somehow not politic (as if somehow what was said should not be divulged beyond the few who heard the paper), simply not done or might perhaps cause resentment (if the person feels his or her paper was misreported or does not want commentary). I’d love to see more people put their papers on the Net or report on the conferences they’ve attended as most people can attend only a very few of all the conferences held each year in areas they’d enjoy knowing about.

Partly a result of going to this conference which helped keep my enthusiasm for Trollope alive and going to two MLA conferences and two given by the Victorian society (where Trollope figured again and again), all of which makes me feel I am part of a community of people who would be interested in reading about him, and partly the result of my paper on film adaptations of Austen, I have embarked on a long-term project towards a paper on film adaptations of Trollope’s novels. So I end this letter to you with a still from early in the 1974 film adaptation, The Pallisers of Caroline Mortimer as Alice Vavasour.

Of all the heroines in this series, Alice Vavasour is the one with whom I can most identify and one of several with whose preoccupations and feelings I can sympathize. Another is Lucy Morris. Trollope doesn’t have many female presences I recognize as truly real; when he does, he does not allow them to have a full panoply of thoughts and choices and particularly angers that would naturally come to a woman and he turns them into partial male wet dream figures. An example of this would be Caroline Waddington in The Bertrams who declares that women in love want to become slaves to a man who if he loves them in return will be a kind master. Yeah. Right.


Posted by: Ellen

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  1. I thought I would take this opportunity to put a summary of Professor Armanack’s first paper on The Duke’s Children on the world wide web. He delivered it in New York City at the Mercantile Library in February 2004.

    Steven Armanack both talked about the papers he had with him and read some sections of them and some passages from the original ms of The Duke’s Children. These papers appeared to consist of three parts: an argument about the nature of Trollope’s method of writing; an argument about what was cut to the effect that the original Duke’s Children is the better book; and sheafs of passages taken from the original manuscript.

    What I have done is transcribe my notes (I take Pitman stenography) of what he said when talking and reading without indicating whether he was reading or talking extempore. I also fitted into my report material from the passages he read later.


    Professor Armanack began by telling the audience that his relationship with The Duke’s Children goes back a long way. It was the first Trollope novel he read, about 15 years ago. Then he read Barchester Towers, The Warden, Dr Thorne, Framley Parsonage. He testified to a common feeling among Trollope readers: he did not want them all to be read them all too quickly, but he carried on reading. Within a couple of years it seems that he still had the sense that The Duke’s Children is among Trollope’s finest, and perhaps his best.

    Thus he was struck with the disparity in size between The Last Chronicle of Barset and The Duke’s Children. The Last Chronicle was so big; The Duke’s Children so puny. The monumentality of The Last Chronicle impresses; the title announces it is the end of a series. Why was The Duke’s Children not made a similarly fitting long coda. He thought about The Duke’s Children having been written so late, and asked if perhaps Trollope was not as good a novelist by this time. But as he read on he decided that the last 5 years of novel writing were as good as any other 5 years.

    At some point he discovered that the book he had originally read was a much shorter version of the original book.

    He then moved onto Trollope’s "extraordinary presence of mind" in his books and his willpower as he was writing them, his self-control. Trollope early on developed a method where he did little revision. This took awareness. Further, when Trollope cut The Duke’s Children, he was going against a life time’s practice. Armanack reminded the audience that when Trollope was asked to cut Barchester Towers, he refused to cut it. He could rewrite the novel but he could not make a 3 volume book into a 2 volume one. Yet he did this. The implication is that Trollope did this under pressure; he was desperate to get this book published. Armanack then went on to say the aversion to revision was not laziness; Trollope wrote that he found that when he wrote more carefully (composed), he found he lost more than he gained when he wrote swiftly.

    So in 1878 Trollope undertook a massive re-editing. This is something he never did before. Trollope did not just hack 1/4 of his manuscript off (cut individual whole chapters or subplots. What he did was continually snip his sentences, snip his paragraphs, cut this half paragraph and then that; he went through a manuscript which would have made a modern edition of about 850 + words and sweated words, phrases, sentences, paragraphs, until he got it down to a manuscript that today makes 630+ words. [Armanack did not say but I’ll "footnote" here to the effect that Sutherland has written that the manuscript of The Way We Live Now shows an overhaul of ordering and much change in focus, and some revision to make that rearrangement work, but this is not the same thing as a thoroughgoing continual sweating of words.]

    The remarkable thing is how smoothly the cut text reads. We do not feel the editing has left awkwardnesses. Armanack said that had he left this book as is it was and printed from the manuscript The Duke’s Children would have been one of the longest of Trollope’s novels.

    What was cut? subtleties in a number of the characters; invisible thematic threads picked up through images and dialogues; many references to the previous Palliser novels. (He noted that The Last Chronicle has many references to the previous Barsetshire novels.) The narrator is much less in evidence: in the original version we had our "chummy" (Armanack’s word) companion alongside us a good deal. Much politics were cut: particularly with respect to the Duke’s relationship to Silverbridge. Armanack feels the overall rhythm of the book changed so that the original manuscript of The Duke’s Children "has a monumentality befitting the conclusion of such an ambitious cycle of books."

    Armanack then turned back to describe Trollope’s experience of writing all his life. How he forced himself every morning to produce about 1000 words an hour; how he learned to do this so that the words were the ones that would go into his books. He quoted the passages from An Autobiography where Trollope describes his experience as being a on a chariot; he also quoted the passages from the short fiction and essays where Trollope talked of his walks in the woods; of his dreaming in order to live with his characters and stories all day long. "He kept working all the time." Trollope went out into the world and determined that "he would not be a novelist on whom anything was lost."

    There are changes in the manuscripts we have. Armanack has looked at DC, Last Chronicle, Phineas Finn, Phineas Redux and Can You Forgive Her?. Trollope would add words for clarity. He would adjust his sentences for rhythm. Sometimes he did make subtle changes to adjust a character this or that way. Sometimes he would add a few sentences or a paragraph here and there. But he did not omit any paragraphs after he wrote them. Sometimes he changed something in one chapter and then had to make a change in another; he would move things from one chapter to another. The practical effect was usually to add; the manuscript got longer. He went over some changes in Alice Vavasour’s character in CYFH? which I didn’t quite get down.

    Armanack said "it is astonishing that Trollope cut this manuscript." [Here I note that Armanack himself provided the answer earlier in his talk. Trollope wanted the money. For years he had been having trouble placing his books; his price had been going down. Armanack seems to forget that Trollope old; he was showing signs of serious heart illness; there would be no pension for Rose; he had poured money at his two sons; Mullen tells us that Trollope had begun to do some speculative deals with money. I am not astonished that Trollope cut the book.]

    Armanack then turned to tell of the specifics of the changes. He said that "Frank is a much more ambiguous character in the original book." It takes a lot longer "to figure out that he is not another Ferdinand Lopez." Frank is much more "potentially scary" in the first book; there is "much more tension." At the end of the published book we have Frank’s letter to the Duke where Frank is open about his mercenary and ambitious motives. Armanack said that there is a reasonable size meditation where we can see that money is still a dominating motive for Frank’s choice in marrying Mary. He is a much more ambivalent character even to the end of the book. Armanack then hastened to say "of course we realize at the end that Frank will make a good husband still." [This puzzled me; it seemed to come out of left field since he himself had been suggesting Frank’s attachment to Mary and concern for her was to say the least self-interested. I mention my puzzlement because this last statement about Frank being a good husband led to Armanack’s comments on Mary.]

    In the original manuscript Mary is a much less "sure" character. Trollope compares her far more often to Lady Glen. Trollope cut a line where he said she was a copy of Lady Glen. So,according to Armanack, "in the original ms it takes a lot longer to see Mary has good judgement." [Again this is puzzling. It seems to me Armanack wants to believe we are to think Mary has good judgement; if in the original manuscript Frank is nowhere near as selfless, loving, attached a man, then where is Mary’s good judgement?] At Catherine Crean’s prompting (see below), Armanack read a section from the original manuscript where Mary is trying to get Mrs Finn to take a letter to Frank, but does not know Frank’s address. This Armanack thought was a "dark" (his word) scene since it shows us Mary is defying her father (lying, going behind his back) and it emphasizes a connection between Lopez and George Vavasour and Frank Tregear: they hide where they live. They don’t tell. Armanack’s way of reading this cut scene turns it into a distressing one for his imagined reader.

    Armanack then turned to the Duke. In the original manuscript the Duke is still very uncomfortable with Frank at the end. In the original manuscript we also get much more politics; the Duke is very involved in what’s going on and he cares intensely and is intensely hurt that Silverbridge goes over to the conservatives. There are more machinations in the original manuscript. In the original manuscript at the opening of the book the Duchess’s death is not the only focus: she shares the stage with political happenings.

    Armanack feels the original balance between politics and domestic happenings in The Duke’s Children is lost. In the original the ending is much more powerful and poignant since the romance between Silverbrige and Isabel is just one thread: Silverbridge’s detestation of Sir Timothy Beeswax is stronger; Beeswax is a looming presence and you get a sense of how appalling he is. Thus when Silverbridge changes back to a liberal there is real relief and the revolution in Silverbridge’s feeling and relationship with his father is fuller and more rewarding to read about.

    According to Armanack, Tifto is "less sleazy" (his word)in the original manuscript. In the original Tifto "does not just slink away." He marries well, sets up a business and then writes Silverbridge "I do not need money any more." Armanack seemed to find this ending much preferable. He said that it "makes Silverbridge’s relationship with Tifto more understandable." [I find Silverbridge’s relationship with Tifto understandable without this; the relationship is not meant to be admirable; how Tifto’s marrying for money makes him less "sleazy" escapes me when Frank’s marrying Mary for money makes him Lopez-like. Tifto did not just slink away; he stayed and fought for a while; I’m one of those readers who think when Silverbridge gives Tifto a pension we are to think better of Silverbridge, see him as slowly becoming more decent and responsible for his action, so when, Tom-and-Daisy like (my allusion is to Gatsby), he kicks someone, he just doesn’t run his car over them and scoot away.]

    Armanack found the pacing of the original manuscript better in the case of Silverbridge’s romance with Isabel, especially towards the end of the book. It moves much slower. In the original manuscript Silverbridge is "still trying to convince himself that he loves Lady Mabel." As with Frank Tregear’s thoughts, Trollope cuts some of Silverbridge’s which show what he is feeling about Mabel is "much more ambivalent." [In other words, he does not so shallowly switch immediately to the pretty fresh face with her quick repartees that he seems hardly to understand.]

    In the original manuscript Lady Glencora’s presence is very strong. We are not permitted to forget her. The Duke thinks about her, remembers her. Armanack said that in the original manuscript the Duke thinks about getting into contact with Alice Vavasour (aka Mrs Grey) again, but he cannot because he has become "estranged" from Mr Grey who himself would not permit Alice to continue her friendship with the Duchess. [All these controlling males, eh?] So this left the Duke with Mrs Finn with whom he remains uncomfortable. Apparently there are remarks which show the Duke looks upon Mrs Finn still as a potentially unchaste type; he remembers back to her near affair with the old Duke. [Probably some xenophobia here too.] Armanack said the Duke is presented as thinking about how he liked Alice and how he resents Madame Max for replacing her. Armanack feels that all this makes the Duke’s taking back his accusation and apology to Mrs Finn "richer." All this, according to Armanack, keeps Lady Glen before us: the memories of Alice, how Grey doesn’t approve of Lady Glen, how Mrs Finn is the real companion for Lady Glen. Armanack feels that the lack of mention of Lady Glen and cutting out of material like the above allows the reader to forget Lady Glen and so lose some of the complexity of the Duke’s responses and character and book as a whole.

    [At this point someone objected and said she felt Lady Glen was strong in the book throughout and liked the subtlety of the approach. Armanack answered well it depends on the reader. Some readers could forget her altogether.]

    In the original we get a lot more of the narrator. A lot more. Armanack mentions that these changes of interjections are of just the sort Henry James disliked. Armanack read a few of the sort he misses: there is a joke at Silverbridge and Isabel’s expense when Silverbridge visits Isabel and pretends something about the weather; Armanack likes jokes at Isabel’s coming to see the house she may live in ("women care just about their houses" is the idea here). [I wondered if some of these interjections were also the kind where Trollope reminds the reader this is a fiction. That’s what he does at the close of Barsetshire. I have to say that the passages Armanack liked I thought heavy-handed. Jim wondered if you could tell which pieces Trollope cut first. From my experience with manuscripts, you usually can’t. So we can’t know if these "humorous" interjections went first or later.]

    The original novel does not end the way the published one does. After the Duke says he "will accept as courage that which I before regarded as arrogance," the dialogue turns to where the young couple will live, and Gerald gets the last word which is a comment about how the Duke must let either Silverbridge or Tregear have their own way. Armanack felt this ending is much more "fitting" as this has been a a book about the Pallisers, Gerald is a Palliser, and this is a "humorous" comment on the Duke’s reluctance to change. [I like the book ending on doubt over Frank Tregear. If Tregear was a much more Lopez character, he then harks back to an equally emphasized group of characters in the Palliser books: the outsider. George Vavasour, Phineas Finn, Lizzie Eustace, Ferdinand Lopez, and then Frank Tregear—all disruptions which the Pallisers and their world failed to keep out.]

    Armanack concluded with his view that the original manuscript of The Duke’s Children shows it to be a great book than The Last Chronicle of Barset. As far as he is concerned, he could do without the painter subplot and grows tired of the "whining and complaining" (!) Crawley. He hastened to say "though he does not find the Duke tiresome." [I was startled at this one; he apparently does not respond to the closing sections of Last Chronicle where Crawley writes those great letters; I like the painter subplot of LC; I could do without Grace and Henry much more readily.]

    Then there was a question and answer period. It seems to your reporter (me) that Armanack persuaded his audience that the original manuscript of The Duke’s Children is a more varied and perhaps richer book. People agreed with his view that Frank Tregear as we presently have him is truncated and doesn’t make much sense; that the cutting of the politics in Silverbridge’s story hurts the ending of the book and the presentation of Silverbridge’s relationship with his father. But it seems to me also that Armanack did not persuade the assembly that the original manuscript of The Duke’s Children is a better book. As I wrote, one woman vigorously objected to his wanting the passages on Lady Glen put back; no one jumped up to agree with him about The Last Chronicle. Indeed to me it seemed his argument that DC is better with the cuts put back and better than LC is the result of a group of his values which, as I have indicated, came out during his talk several times. I’ll add one more instance here: he said at one point with no irony or qualification that Trollope’s finest work is to be found in the Barsetshire and Palliser series.

    This was another reason why The Duke’s Children should be "monumental." The valuing of "monumentality" was never discussed; it was presented as a given.

    He half-seemed to want to end there, but he also showed us a sheaf of manuscripts which had the passages from the manuscript. He said he didn’t want to bore us. It was then that Catherine urged him to read them, and he went ahead. A good deal of the detail I have reported above came out of his reading these sheafs of material from the original manuscripts.

    It was then around 8 and the last issue was, When was he going to try to make an edition? If he had not convinced everyone the original Duke’s Children was better than this slimmed down version, or was Trollope’s best book, and better than Last Chronicle, he had persuaded people it’s a real shame we don’t have this book to read to. Well, it appeared at that time Armanack had no intention of doing this. It would be enormously time-consuming. The reason no edition has been done is it’s not a matter of putting back chapters or whole sections. You’ve got to retype the manuscript deciphering small passages as you go. He said Trollope’s handwriting is sometimes hard to read. Some of the passages are not crossed out with just a thin line but with zigzaggs and (light?) cross-hatching. It would take a lot of work. Catherine again spoke up to mention Broadview Press. This was a very good suggestion. Broadview is just the sort of press to take up an edition of a novel now known in a mutilated or cut state.


    To Trollope-l

    March 5, 2004

    Re: Steven Armanack on The Duke’s Children

    I’m up again and am willing to try to answer questions on Armanack’s lecture. What I wrote last night was a swift transcription of my notes. I left out what I also remembered: for example, I asked Armanack if there was any more about Mr Boncassen in the book. Is he still a positive figure? He answered that yes, there was more, but that the figure remained essentially the same (positive) and was not deepened at all (left relatively unpsychologized). I find I also omitted some of what Armanack read aloud: for example, one of the narrator’s "humorous asides" whose exclusion Armanack regretted occurs in a short scene which is deleted: the Duke sits down to dinner alone and sad; it seems he will read in his library afterwards; had Lady Glen been alive, he would have spent the time reading anyway, probably until late in the night, but he would not have been lonely because she was like a book he could take up if he felt like it; if of couse he didn’t feel like it, he didn’t need to bother. The implication is the Duke would not have taken his option; the humor for Armanackseems to be in the Duke’s paradoxical loneliness all the while not really wanting to talk or to be with Lady Glen (much preferring a book). [I see in
    such remarks another much less humorous and more ironic point: that Lady Glen was at the Duke’s beck and call, and that they were not so companionable as this now very lonely man emotionally imagines now that she is not there.]

    Although I have lost the rapidity with which I could once take down what people said using Pitman sten (over 100 words a minute in my prime), and I sometimes flub (thus I didn’t get down properly what Armanack said Trollope had changed in the original character of Alice in Can You Forgive Her?); nonetheless, I can still get down much of what is said if I set my mind to it and I have a good memory—or at least for a while.

    Right now I still remember some of what was said that doesn’t relate directly to Armanack’s paper. Probably in two weeks I’ll forget this stuff (what I have no
    sten for whatsoever). For example, there were a couple of inane questions, one of which was meant to "triumph" over Armanack. You could see that from the tone. A woman asked him, How do you pronounce Tregear? He behaved well in response to this trivia and answered patiently.

    A set of values was controlling Armanack’s idea that The Duke’s Children may be the best book or among the best Trollope ever wrote, I was also referring to a way of reading novels by which I mean aesthetic values, a notion of what a novel is and how it functions in the world. Thus when Armanack remarked "we still feel confident Frank will make Mary a good husband," he has himself not only taken on Victorian norms which it’s not altogether clear Trollope agreed with, but is reading the fiction as if it were life and not shaped to dramatize values. He takes fictional verisimilitude for actual probability, not only in being led to think the story of Frank and Mary is probable in the real world of the time given real people, but prefer fiction which embodies exemplary models in his mind.

    I was answered by Howard Merkin:

    "It seems that Armanack considered that Trollope’s cuts improved rather than diminished the work. Unfortunately, his present lack of interest in supervising a fresh edition makes it unlikely that we shall see an unabridged edition in the near future. I am not familiar with the Broadview Press that Catherine referred to. Are they likely to take up what Ellen indicates is going to be a mammoth task? I am sure that many members of this list, and indeed of the Trollope Society would be happy to subscribe to an unabridged edition, but altogether this is unlikely to meet the economic requirements of the work involved.

    Regards, Howard"

    To which another member of Trollope-l at the time added:

    "It seems that the extended version of DC gives a lot more of the love affair between Mary and Frank, which would be helpful to know. In the published novel the affair appears to start up very suddenly, and we have no opportunity of seeing what appeals to her about him. We also appear to leave them in the lurch once they are married. Presumably Mr Morton makes the necessary arrangements, and Frank is enabled to continue as an unpaid member of parliament in the Conservative interest.

    Elinor    Mar 2, 11:48pm    #
  2. To which another member of Trollope-l at the time added:

    "It seems that the extended version of DC gives a lot more of the love affair between Mary and Frank, which would be helpful to know. In the published novel the affair appears to start up very suddenly, and we have no opportunity of seeing what appeals to her about him. We also appear to leave them in the lurch once they are married. Presumably Mr Morton makes the necessary arrangements, and Frank is enabled to continue as an unpaid member of parliament in the Conservative interest.


    No, ‘twas not I. Duke’s Children is one of Trollope’s novels that I haven’t yet read.
    Dagny    Mar 4, 3:36am    #
  3. Do you remember someone whose first name began with a D? I haven’t looked up the lists of participants I have online for some of the discussions I put on my website. I daresay the name may be among them.

    Elinor    Mar 4, 8:07am    #
  4. From Nick:

    "I read your summary of Amarnack’s original paper with great interest; I can’t quite understand the point if the intention is not in the end to produce an ‘original’ version, or at least to put the rejectedparts in the public domain. I would guess that there is something about controlling their distribution going on? But your notes are brilliant – it is a wonderful advantage to have a proper shorthand system.


    Jim and I thought he hadn’t plans (and still hasn’t gone through with this project) because he already is tenured and at a community college. Community colleges do not give tenure out pr promotions based on publications as much as on local politics within the cliques at the college and what’s called "community service" (being on committees). It might have solidified a bid for tenure, but when someone has tenure, there’s nothing pushing him or her.

    It’s a shame because it’s really a typing job. Broadview might be willing, and my guess is he's changed his outlook since saying the unpublished one is worse is no argument for publication.

    Elinor    Mar 4, 8:10am    #

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