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

I wonder what I would do without Trollope · 26 March 08

Dear Fanny,

I know I write continuously about Austen, and about Trollope usually only insofar as I’m studying the Palliser films. The truth of the matter is I wonder what I would do without him too.

Jim and I are going by plane to an 18th century conference in Portland, Oregon. I’ve wanted to see Oregon since I was a girl and my father told me he spent months in Oregon during the depression: he was a boy and sent there as part of a federal government program to provide poor boys with useful remunerative work. He was to chop down trees or something like this: he ended up in an office typing. Imagine the Portagble Royal Typewriter. Snapping the keys, occasionally slamming the carriage (well I would). Company boy clerk.

Jim does say there is a river there and we shall go on a boat ride. His reciprocal club where we stay is by a park too.

Still Jim also tells me the trip is 10 hours each way, and we have a layover on the way there in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I take with me Eustace Diamonds. It’s fat. Last year we went somewhere or other and I read The Last Chronicle of Barset. This past summer for the four trips he determined to go on, I took Can You Forgive Her?. When we went with Yvette to Buffalo, 8 hours there and 8 hours back by car, I read Phineas Finn.

There are the nights to get through too. The interstices of time as I have to wait for this or that and am far from home and my routs. I wake in the night sometimes and must occupy myself for a couple of hours and want to return to bed cheered.

Some seasons, some years, I prefer this or that aspect of Trollope and thus this or that subset of books. He’s not Austen, does not defend the self against the slings and outrages of everyday life. But he gets me through. He sustains me. I never tire of him because he is so sane, wise, intelligent, disillusioned, and calm in the face of a full appreciation of what people are capable of wreaking on one another, what they are, their so-called communities. And yes the man can write a sentence with scintillating witty suggestive thought. I use wit in the 18th century sense.

I’ve an idea Siimon Raven turned to Trollope a great deal too. He knows Trollope’s books inside and outside and everywhere.


Posted by: Ellen

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  1. Hi Ellen,

    Have you read Brooke Allen’s profile of Simon Raven in a 2003 issue of The New Criterion? It’s good; have a look. In haste, Tom
    T. Wood    Mar 26, 8:57pm    #
  2. Dear Tom,

    I’ve not seen it, but would very much like to. Do you have fuller bibliographical information? Issue No, date and pages? Then I could order it from Interlibrary loan at GMU.

    Elinor    Mar 30, 10:46pm    #
  3. Dear Ellen,

    Brooke Allen’s piece on Raven in the New Criterion may be “googled”. THE POLISHED CORNERSTONE OF THE TEMPLE: QUEENLY LIBRARIES OF THE ENLIGHTENMENT, by Lopez-Vidriero, her 2004 Panizzi Lectures, is also something I believe would interest you (I presume). Nice review of this in the Spring 2008 Book Collector which I’ll try to get in the mail to you. It’s book fair week!

    All best, Tom
    T. Wood    Mar 31, 8:54pm    #

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