April 14, 2001
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 1-6: The Frontispiece
The Frontispiece illustration to a volume should hit a peculiarly appropriate note, set a mood, be suggestively a pictorial frame for the series and book to come. It need not be a landscape which occurs frequently or in a pivotal point in the plot: it should point out what is peculiar to the book, what can be said to distinguish its imaginative terrain. The frontispiece for Ayala's Angel as illustrated by Robert Geary for the Folio Society edition is a picturesque view of London, specifically of the little jewel of a house in which Edgar Dormer lived with his family. The frontispiece for Is He Popenjoy? as illustrated by Kate Aldous for the same people shows us Lord George Germaine walking in his local village with a sly-looking hintingly pregnant Mary clinging to his arm; her stomach protrudes ever so heavily from under her upper waistcoat and skirt, the protusion itself at the center of the picture space. Is it Popenjoy? is probably the way we would put it.
The frontispiece for John Caldigate as illustrated by Francis Mosley for a third Folio Society edition is a picture of a mine in Australia. Its caption is "On the tops of these artificial hills there were sundry rickety-looking erections". The page and scene it is intended to evoke and enable us to meditate visually through is in this coming week's chapters (John Caldigate, introd. RCTerry, Ch 9, p. 67). Dick and John have arrived in Nobble, and are on their way to see a Mr Crinkett who is to help them begin gold-digging. A miner they meet on the way tells them: "He's a civil enough gent, is Crinkett ... but he do like making money. They say of him ther's nothing he wouldn't sell -- not even his grandmother's bones". The scene Mosley has visualised runs as as follows:
They had walked about half a mile from the town, turning down a lane at the back of the house, and had made their way through yawning pit-holes and heaps of dirt and pools of yellow water -- where everything was disorderly and apparently deserted -- till they came to a cluster of heaps so large to look like little hills; and here there were signs of mining vitality. On their way they had not come across a single shred of vegetation, though here and there stood the bare trunks of a few dead and headless trees, the ghosts of the forest which had occupied the place six or seven years previously. On the tops of these artificial hlils there were sundry rickety-looking erections, and around them were troughs and sheds and rude water-works. These, as the miner explained, were the outward and visible signs of the world-famous "Old Stick-in-the-Mud" claim, whcih was now giving two ounces of gold to the ton of quartz ... (Ch 9, pp. 66 - 67).
There is an argument that one should not discuss a frontispiece until one reaches the end of a book since only then does its peculiar general relevance come out. Having read the novel once before I can see why the filthy, disordered, make-shift, desperate scene of a mine out of which we see a calm, quiet, somewhat tired but determined looking man pushing a cart loaded with squares of dirt and coal and debris is central to the book. For now I'll confine myself to the observation that there is probably gold in the cart. Mosley has his male figure at the bottom right of his picture; he is framed by a wooden threshold whose opening is all black. It's dark down there. Over it are a few logs thrown this way and that; the "roof" of the mine is the earth which here is covered with tiny looking stone and pebbles which at the edges as they descend suddenly to dirt terrain turn into larger looking stones. Over the earth are the rickety- looking erections. These are hastily-built frames which substitute for individual people's sheds. Inside the one we see close-up is a square piece of upright wood, wide enough to hang a towel or other dirty clothes on. There is another smaller square looking wooden object near it. Further along are withered thin tree strumps which thrust their broken up tops into the sky. We see another miner pushing another cart in the distance to what is probably his "shed". The sky is quiet, slightly bleak. The way this is done is to leave the top portion of your plate blank so it comes out a dull white; then you make short diagonal lines in groups across the sky.
I will send a separate posting for the book's first illustration inside the text.
Cheers to all,
Date: Sun, 15 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] John Caldigate: Pictures of 19th Gold Mining in New South Wales
This is to thank Howard Merkin for finding the appropriate website with pictures of gold-mining in New South Wales. I am struck by how accurately Mosley's picture of the rickety-erections are; he also got the sombreness of the places right. These do not look like places where people are enjoying themselves with alcoholic beverages, but places where they are intently serious about the object of making money. They do look grim. On the other hand, when the lights are out and people go to sleep, even in exhaustion after hours of work in a place where the "ordinary rules" of life are not visibly enforced by social activities, one can see extra- marital relationships springing up and sticking very easily.
Actually I wonder if there are websites with pictures of typical ships of the period. It would be interesting to see if the pictures of these by Mosley are as accurate. It would be interesting to match up Trollope's descriptions of life aboard such ships (not only in this novel but in the travel books and short stories) against the information provided by such sites.
John Caldigate, Chs 1-6: A Woman in a Brown Straw Hat
The book's first illustration focuses on Mrs Smith:
The caption is "'Have you observed that woman in the brown straw hat?'". The line occurs on the page facing the illustration within a passage which includes an insistence on different nature of the experience of life in the second-class part of the ship that Dick and John place themselves in aboard the Goldfinger and an insistence that they are not quite part of it. They are in some liminal psychological space: those in the first class would of course have little to do with them. Those in the second class are uncomfortable; don't know how to approach them. So they are isolated, left to create their own environment:
The Goldfinder had on board her over a hundred first-class passengers, and nearly as many of the second class. The life among them was much of the same kind, though int he second class there was less of idleness, less of pleasure, and something more of an attempt to continue the ordinary industry of life. The women worked more and the men read more than their richer neighbours. But the love-making, and the fashion, and the mutiny against fashion, were the same in one set as in the other. Our friends were at first subjected to an inconvenience which is always felt in such a positoion. They were known to have had saloon rather than second- class antecedents. Everybody had heard that they had been at Cambridge, and therefore they were at first avoided. And as they themsevles were determined not to seek associates among their more aristocratic neighbours, they were left to themselves and solitary for a few days. But this was a condition not at all suited to Dick Shand's temperament, and it was jot long before he had made both male and female acquaintances. 'Have you observed that woman in the brown straw hat?' Dicke said to Caldigate, one morning, as they were leaning together on the forepart of the vessel against one of the pens in which the fowls were kept. Thery were both dressed according to the parts they were acting, and which they intended to act, as second class passengers and future working miners: Anyone knowing such matters woudl have seen that they were over-dressed; for the real miner, when he is away from his work, puts on his best clothes, and endeavours to look at little rough as possible ... (Folio Society John Caldigate, Ch 5, "The Goldfinder", p. 31 and facing illustration).
Our first view of Mrs Smith shows that a woman sewing. The verb "work" means sew: like the other second class women she "works" more than the first class women. She is not doing fancy work either: she has a long dark sock in her hands which she darns. Her dress is very plain, no a decoration to be seen, stuff. It has a high neck: a whitish collar peeks out over a dark scarf she has tied around her shoulders and neck. She looks down at her work. She has a pretty face, small delicate features; she is absorbed in her work or in something she is thinking about. She is not thin -- thinness was not prized in Victorian times, but she is not robust and certainly not the "embonpoint" type which was admired for the upper class woman. Her hair is plainly put into a square bun at the nape of her neck. The dark straw hat is at the center of the picture space. She sits on a large round pipe. To the back of her we see other women; one has a child pulling at her skirt, another a baby she may be breast-feeding (only it's sketchy so we can't tell and decorum is preserved). To the right of her we see two young men in working clothes. One looks eagerly over: Dick. Dick's lack of self-containment is one element in his character which makes him liable to descend. That John Caldigate can hold out for company means he can hold out for other things too. Caldigate is not seen very well; the drawing is sketchy and awkward. He turns his head slightly.
Note how suspicious Shand is upon first looking at her. Caldigate thinks she is "very attentive to the stocking she is mending" but Shand says "Just a woman's wiles. At this moment she can't hear us, but she knows pretty nearly what we are saying by the way our lips are going" (p. 31). I wonder if she does -- or is this just another aspect of the narrow mind judging the world by its own performative cunning? Caldigate responds to Dick's base but common outlook by saying he had spoken to this woman yesterday and "She struck me as talking better than her gown, if you know what I mean". So she is acting too. She is in the same liminal place imaginatively, psychologically as they.
I like Mrs Smith very very much even later in the book when Trollope places her character in another context. Are not our characters a function of our context? Think about the way you appear on different lists, in different places, have been at different ages. A dance to the music of time indeed ...
The voyage out was what Virginia Woolf called her first novel. This too is a voyage out -- and, as we shall see, back again too.
Cheers to all,
April 21, 2001
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 7-12, Pictures: The Goldfinder (I)
The illustrations for this past week's instalment again focus us on the ship which brought Caldigate, Shand, and Mrs Smith to Australia and the Australian goldmining landscape.
The caption for the first is: "At break of day on the following morning the Goldfinder rode over the Rip into Hobson's Bay" and the paragraphs facing the illustration read thus:
"And this is to say goodbye?" 'Twas thus she greeted him again that night. "Goodbye --" "Goodbye, my love".
"My love! my love! And now remember this; my address will be, Post Office, Melbourne. It will be for you to write to me. You will not hear from me unless you do. Indeed I shall know nothing of you. Let me have a line before a month is over". This he promised, and then they parted.
At break of day on the following morning the Goldfinder rode over the Rip into Hobson's Bay. There were still four hours before the ship lay at her moorings; but during all that time Mrs Smith was not seen by Caldigate. As he got into the boat which took him and Shand from the ship to the pier at Sandridge she kissed her hand to him over the side of the vessel. Before eleven o'clock Dick Shand and his companion were comfortably put up at the Miners' Home in Flinders Lane (Folio Society John Caldigate, intro. RCTerry, Ch 8, "Reaching Melbourne", p 60 and facing illustration).
I don't know what the Rip into Hobson's Bay is. (I am beginning to think we should indeed have a read of Trollope's Australian travel book. I might not read it on my own.)
The illustration is also not, I am afraid, historically accurate if we are to imagine a steamship of the SS Great Britain type. What we are shown is a tall Yankee Clipper Ship. I know very little of such ships except that they are called streamlined clipper ships and were built all over the world as early as the 1700s. They were fast for their time. They had three or more masts and as many as 35 sails, square and triangular, and all different sizes. Clipper ships carried cargo all around the world. Whether such a ship would have taken Caldigate to Australia in the 1870s I can't say. There is one seen from the side on the World Wide Web at:
There is another picture on the Patrick O'Brien/Aubrey Maturin page:
From the angle of vision as drawn by Francis Mosley, it resembles:
This last one is highly romantic looking, and I assume that's partly why Mosley chose this kind of ship. We see it looming up from the horizon. We are faced with many many square sails. We see a few figures at the bow, dark silhouettes of figures, a woman at the near the top, two males slightly to her left. It is dawn; the lines suggest a sudden sunburst.
The textual emphasis is then on the goodbye, on the inexorable nature of the parting. A poignant note is struck; we are to imagine the lady leaning over the side of the vessel as the gentlemen climb off.
The name of the ship does put me in mind of a James Bond film :).
I will describe the second illustration in another posting.
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] John Caldigate Illustrations
Ellen, thank you as always for taking the time to picture in words for us the illustrations. (And since you mentioned it yourself, I will say that I got a chuckle from the men around the campfire--good one!)
I don't actually know what the Rip into Hobson's Bay is either. One of our more nautically inclined listmembers might enlighten it. I think though that it could refer to the tide. I have heard the phrase rip tide, along with ebb tide. If this is the case then I can picture the ship cresting over the tide much as surfers do. How far off is my guess?
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 7-12, Pictures: Ahalala (II)
The caption for the second illustration is: "Sometimes two or three were sharing their provisions out of the same frying-pan", and the passage facing the illustration reads gives us the full landscape of Ahalala which our narrator finds "less hideous" than Nobble because "The trees around had not yet been altogether killed, nor had they been cut down in sufficient numbers to divest the place of its forest appearance": "The houses, such as they were, stood here and there about the place, while a great part of the population lived under canvas". The place is at the same time "less regular" than Nobble: Dick finds himself "bewildered" by it: "there seemed to be no beginning and no end". These little psychological notes are significant: Dick is confused, not Caldigate. When told of a couple of dozen hotels, Dick can make no sense of the statement since
"there were many tracks about here and there -- but nothing which could be called a road. The number of holes was infinite -- each hole covered by a rough windlass used to taking out the dirt, which was thrown loosely anywhere round the aperture. Here and there were to be seen little red flags stuck upon the end of poles.
Mosley has drawn all of the above as the distant background of his illustration: tents, flags near some and not near the others, straggling trees, a thin line of a rut which is a sort of road.
The scene in the foreground visualises what Dick and Caldigate see as they near Ridley's hotel:
"There was generally a little tent generally near to each hillock in which the miners slept, packed nearly as lcose as sheep in a fold. As our party made its way through the midst of this new world to Ridley's hotel, our friend observed many a miner sitting at his evening meal. Each generally had a frying-pan between his legs, out of which he was helping himself to meat which he had cooked o nthe ashes just behind him. Sometimes two or three were sharing their provisions out of the same frying-pan; but as a rule each miner had his own, and each had it between his legs. Before they had been at Ahalala twenty-four hours they also had their tent and their frying-pan and their fire, and had pegged out their claim and were ready to commence operations on the morrow" (Folio Society John Caldigate, intro. RCTerry, Ch 11, "Ahalala", p 78 and facing illustration).
We see three anonymous men sitting round a fire. I call them anonymous although the text gives us warrant to identify the two younger men who sit to the right and left of the fire as Dick and John, and the older bearded man who faces us and sits just below the center of the picture space looking down at the fire as Mick Maggott. One of the two young men holds a frying-pan over a heap of hot coals; the steam coming up from it is drawn in a way which suggests he is moving the pan back and forth over the fire. They all have their arms resting on their knees; they sit there very patiently. On the ground nearby is a bucket, a large pan, a large spade, a saucepan with some liquid in it. The eyes of all three men are shaded. Their tent is not tall enough for them to stand in; they would crawl inside.
As we know Mick is essential to the success of the endeavour. Although an alcoholic, he knows how to mine, how to survive in this semi-civilized environment.
Meditating the picture against its facing text brings a couple of things to mind: first how in Trollope's novel at this point our narrator is constantly likening people to animals. Sheep is just one metaphor. This is a Darwinian struggle in which some kind of inner strength holds out to keep a man above the merely animal to some extent even if he is in effect drawn down to living that way: eat, sleep, work, drink -- and probably have sex with a woman who makes herself available. One of Trollope's interests in this book is to show us who survives in such an environment, who succeeds, who descends. Mick has not really descended since he is not a gentleman in the first place. His despair is a note worth paying attention to -- for he drinks out of a kind of despair. Why not? What else is there for exhilaration? for release?
Another is the choice of subject. Having seen over 400 of the original illustrations I can say with some certainty that very rarely are the working class shown in mid-Victorian illustrations. I can recall Burgo Fitzgerald in the bar in Can You Forgive Her?, but that is to make a point about Burgo and the poor prostitute-beggar he generously as well as tactfully, albeit carelessly, helps. The three men do not have to be gentleman; they look like working men in their clothes. This kind of beaten landscape is not common: perhaps a landscape that is wintry and autumnal, but not one that registers hard times and hard work. But illustrations are aimed at readers by a publisher, and even if Trollope described such a realistic landscape and working men, the publisher could divert the readers' attention from it. Very often Trollope's characters are much older and uglier than Millais and his other original illustrators make them - as today movie-producers will hire much younger prettier and more handsome actors and actresses to play the parts of Jane Eyre, Rochester, Anne Elliot, Frederick Wentworth, Henry Tilney (these last from Jane Austen are described by her as either not handsome or not young). So we could say that the modern illustrator does more justice to Trollope's meaning at this point than the original one could have.
Cheers to all,
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 13-18: A Picture of that Obscure Object of Desire
This past week's chapters include but one picture: that of Miss Hester Bolton at full length:
As the caption chosen suggests, everything about the picture from its technique to what is seen has been conceived as a contrast to what we have seen and guessed about Mrs Euphemia Smith and the life John Caldigate has known in Australia: "A lady came through with a garden hat on, and garden gloves, and a basket full of rose leaves". From the time of the earliest medieval romances through to Tennyson's Maud and Idylls of the King a walled-in garden has stood-in for innocent but fecund female sexuality; there is a long tradition associating white with virginity; cups, containers -- and therefore -- baskets are stand-ins for the womb. There is a language of flowers for romance (in the Victorian period and today too you can buy books which equate a given flower with a given idea or mood). A blue sky, quietude, stillness; it's all in this picture as well as an expression on Hester's face which is the opposite of coy or hidden: she stares out clearly at someone or something. We the readers of the book know who has caught her intent gaze. Caldigate is walking towards her, seeing her. We may not see him, but we are in his position and it is what he sees and is walking towards that we see including Hester's first response to him.
The full passage opposite the page reads:
On the following day, about five in the afternoon, he rode through the iron gates, which he with difficulty caused to be opened for him, and asked for Mrs Bolton. When he had been here before, the winter had commenced, and everything around had been dull and ugly; but now it was July, and the patch before the house ws bright with flowers. The roses were in full bloom, and every morsel of available soil was bedded with geraniums. As he stood holding his horse by the rein while he rang the bell, a side-door leading through the high brick wall from the garden, which stretched away behind the house, was suddenly opened, and a lady came through with a garden hat on, and garden gloves, and a basket full of rose leaves in her hand. It was the lady of whom he had never ceased to think from the day on which he had been allowed just to touch her fingers, now five years ago.
It was she, of course, whom he had come to see, and there she was to be seen (Folio Society John Caldigate, introd. RCTerry, Ch 14, "Again at Home", p. 105 and facing illustration).
Trollope's quiet natural style leaves a number of effective symbols underdetermined. Underdetermination is a way of using language which leaves it unpointed, not over noticed. One of these in the above is the iron gate: recently I read Chrétien de Troyes's highly influential Arthurian romances (12th century) and in 3 out of 5 a hero must make his way through an iron gate to the get to his lady. De Troyes makes the symbol more obviously sexual (as Tennyson does in Maud); here it is attached to Mrs Bolton: this is one gate which will be hard for Caldigate to penetrate.
Mosley has done all he can to make Hester a visualisation of what Caldigate would see as holding "that promise of loveliness -- of loveliness combined wth innocence and full of intelligence" (p. 106). Caldigate and his father are stern rather unbending types and the girl we see looks slightly startled, very youthful: there are no lines on her angular heart-shaped face. There is a look of alertness in her eyes. Her neckline is modest, but not too modest: a kind of square-cut lace is on the top of her long white dress. She has a slender but potentially full figure. Her hat is straw and meant to recall Mrs Smith's hat: where Mrs Smith's was shabby, battered, this stands straight out, is much smaller. The lady is not without vanity: small earrings may be seen; the dress has a line of trim at the bottom. She stands to one side of the wall; she is on a stone-pavement. Behind her we see a garden-park which is done in neat straight lines, not the curly picturesque type. These straight lines make for the intentness and lack of hiddenness of the picture. They blur out in the back. It is important to emphasize that she is not beautiful. In the pictures of Lucy in Ayala's Angel, the girl depicted corresponded to a magazine idea; in the pictures of Ayala, the girl was sensual, a little wild, picturesque. This lady is simply there, slightly nondescript except that our attention is so focused on her and she's got that basket and the rose leaves, and the dress and funny little stiff hat.
Then we read on and come to the brief but significant words: Hester remembers John Caldigate very well. Her few words tell us she is grown-up, no longer a child.
We are also told by the narrator that she is what Caldigate has dreamed of; yet it is also emphasized how little she is known to him. He is not sure she is married. He doesn't know what she is within. This too reminds me of Chrétien where the heroes fall in love at first sight, or least know almost nothing of the lady's inner life before they make her the object of their desire. Hester is that obscure object of desire, for as the picture suggests to me at any rate, there is nothing so very special here to want, except that Caldigate wants it. As I wrote earlier this week, John Caldigate can bee seen as a story of communication and miscommunication and a story of desire. John Caldigate's quest is to achieve this totem, object, prize that his society values. I wrote of how he sought help from his father, and how Mrs Bolton is one of the obstacles.
But there is another. And it seems to me it is caught up in this dialogue and the first conversations he has with Robert Bolton whom he has to persuade of his worthiness. It is Robert Bolton who will (in this week's chapters) get Hester for John. On Robert Bolton's say-so, the parents agree to let Hester have the life of a woman she desires -- for as we shall see Hester is the passionate chaste lady. What has John Caldigate been doing back there in Australia? We know something of it: he has had a relationship of some sort with Mrs Smith. What is that? We don't know. So here is our suspense.
The following comment gives away part of the plot to come: don't read on if you don't want to have any idea of what's to come. I bring it up to show why this picture is effective here. I am not too specific and I don't give away the ending of the book, but still I give away something.
And not to put too fine a point on it, the plot that will unravel is one which will show the ordeal the hero has got to go through to get that lady, and what we will see includes punishment for his past, a punishment which implies guilt on Trollope's part, a need to absolve himself from something. That is, the hero goes to jail, suffers away, and is not quite absolved except by his suffering which is deemed overdone and perhaps not called for. This suggests to me that the reader can infer the case was or should be in reality called bigamy. If people don't agree, they may still agree that Caldigate's living with Mrs Smith needs in Trollope's mind somewhere to be expiated, and I wonder myself how far Caldigate's adventures reflect some of Trollope's own when he wandered by himself.
So the reason to have this picture here is it is a contrast and figures forth this opposition of what was, of non-innocence, corruption (caught up in the Mrs Smith, Shand, Mr Crinkett story) and what is desired, peace, tranquillity, rest (Hester, John's father, the Folking estate homeplace).
I forgot to mention the gloves. She has the gloves on too, garden gloves, but thin, covering her arms up to the elbow and of course her hands -- which Caldigate longs to touch without gloves on them.
Cheers to all,
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 19-24: A Wedding Picture
Those who accuse Trollope (as I know some do) of writing utterly conventional formulaic books (supposedly like other Victorian novelists who produced for the circulating library) will find in this book (among others) that it is often decidedly untrue to the formula it seems to follow.
This week's wedding picture is a case in point. We are told that most of the time the courtship novel ends in marriage. Many of Trollope's begin there; one of my favorite of his novels, Mr Wortle's School begins with the startling statement that are hero and hero are not married, and if the reader doesn't like it, he or she is invited to put the book down now. Well here we have our wedding pretty early.
Trollope is not content with this. In John Caldigate he presents the wedding as a time of strain, difficulty, disjunctions, embarrassment -- quite like it often is in life. This is not unusual with him: The Claverings opens with the wedding a an ugly bargain between an aging syphilitic lord, alcoholic too and a heroine who makes no secret that she is selling herself. She and the hero talk about it in a wasteland-like scene in Chapter 1. Trollope himself asked Mary Ellen Edwards to draw the wedding and chose a caption that highlighted the groom's illness. John Caldigate is also like many of his novels in that what proceeds the wedding are a series of close negotiations; the quick coming of a baby (within one chapter or so) is not that common. But then the theme here is bigamy and to have the "innocent" wife have a child makes the crime feel far more serious.
Francis Mosley did not have Trollope around to choose the picture (as Trollope did for most of his novels); however, he has chosen this one in character with the original illustrations -- a wedding scene which points up how false are the public discourses about such events. The caption is "She went and sat apart in a dark distant pew, dressed in black and deeply veiled". As with the picture of Hester in the garden where we are put in John Caldigate's position and led to feel ourselves seeing the prize as he does, without actually having him drawn, in other words, feel his presence, so here we don't have the wedding going on, we have the swoman staring head at it.
The passage we are to meditate in conjunction with the "dropped in" picture runs thus:
When the morning came, and when Hester was dropped at The Nurseries, in order that she might go up and be invested in her finery amidst her bridemaids, who were all her cousins, the carriage went on and took Mrs Bolton to church. It was represented to her that, by this arrangement, she would be forced to remain one hour alone in the cold building. But she was one of those who regarded all discomfort as meritorious, as in some way adding something to her claim for heaven. Self-scourging with rods as a penance, was to her thinking a papistical ordinancy most abominable and damnatory; but the essence of teh self-scourging was as comfortable to her as ever was a hair-shirt to a Roman Catholic enthusiast. So she went and sat apart in a dark distant pew, dressed in black and deeply veiled, praying, not, it is to be feared, that John Caldigate might be a good husband to her girl, but that he, as he made his way downward to things below, might not drag her darling with him. That only a few can be saved was the fact in all her religion with which she was most thoroughly conversant (Folio Society John Caldigate, introd. RCTerry, pp. 156-57 and illustration inbetween).
Trollope goes on through invective (it's not really subtle irony or satire) to indict the Calvinistic doctrine and the psychology that lies behind it -- as Trollope understands that. As we finish reading this paragraph, we feel strongly how really awful this woman is -- and such ways of thought. One does have to say there really are some superfluous anti-Catholic remarks in the passage. I think Trollope keeps bringing up Catholicism when he describes this woman's inner life to show how at the extremes these two supposedly opposing religions feed a similar anti-life totalitarian desire. He's not anti-Catholic in his Irish novels at all. One of his most moving heroes is the Catholic Father in The Macdermots of Ballycloran, his first book. And Thady is a Catholic too.
It's actually not true that Trollope doesn't deal with religious doctrine as well as church politics in his books. He does. He even touches on the problem of agnosticism and disbelief altogether in _The Bertrams_. Readers often simply discount these passages as unimportant. I don't know why. Central to this book is a stand-off between the both male Caldigates and what Mrs Bolton stands for. The plot or story enacts a meditation upon the two sides or viewpoints on how to get through life safely or with joy. Trollope seems ever ultimately to be on the side of risk, of challenge.
The drawings in this book are all down in a squarish plain style. Nothing picturesque and Gainsborough-like as in Ayala; no caricatures as in Is He Popenjoy?. Thus far no comedy, nothing decorative. So too this picture. We see a woman bending in prayer inside a pew. She leans on the back of the pew in front of her with her hands folded stiffly before her face. She is in black; she has the sorriest stiffest of hats, a black veil over her face. The drawing is of the simplest of her face; all her features turn down. Mosley fills in the spaces to make shadows and colours with thin straight lines (as he does in all the previous pictures). The effect is grim, monumental, still. The walls of the church have windows with mildly pointed arches; the glass is clearly not coloured; no images or idols here. In fact the scene seems so undecorated. Not a flower, not a joyous sign anywhere.
Among other things I remember as I look at it is Hester's courage. That is the name of one of this week's chapters; we see her go to this woman after her wedding is over As I said to me this is a thing hard to understand, partly as we see she has already switched her emotional allegiance intensely, But there she does show courage; and at the close of this chapter we are told that the effect of the prelude to her wedding and of this woman's darkening presence on it, and the dubiety and distance her own relatives feel towards her husband, the very absence of the father-in-law all combine to make Hester determine "to make her new life bright". She will defy them all with the man she has chosen. She has more rebellion in her, more individuality than she has had a chance to show thus far. As the novel develops it will be called upon. One of the more interesting developments will be her deepening relationship and trust of her father-in-law. Now this speaks volumes in terms of what Daniel Caldigate has stood for in the book all along: a serious truthful man, austere, but loving, not inclined to tolerate cant, but someone who is loyal to what proves its worth and those who prove their integrity.
There is also Trollope's attitude towards wedding ceremonies. In his "The Widow's Mite" and at the close of The Duke's Children he comes out squarely against the extravaganza as irrelevant. The inner feeling and private moment is what matters. Halperin talks about Trollope's dislike of the ceremonies of lies. This makes me think of a sort of funny story a student in one of my classes told when we read "A Widow's Mite". She knew a couple who had lived happily together for 6 years; then they made a mistake. They got engaged, and decided to have a big ceremony -- the US such things can run over $20,000 easy. Well within a year the relationship was over. The arguments that ensued between relatives, over money, over priorities brought to broke that camel's back.
Cheers to all,
May 10, 2001
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 25-30: A Christening & An Encounter (I)
This week's instalment includes two illustrations. They are not particularly well-drawn -- though they are not caricatures which have the effect of trivializing the text. Rather Mosley continues to draw the figures simply, squarely, suggestively with few lines, reaching for the monumental. The problem is he can't reach for the idealism of Millais, so, particularly in the second illustration, the figures just seem slightly inadequate.
Still the choice of subject and text that we are invited to pay extra attention to are apposite.
The caption of the first is "The ceremony of making the young Daniel Humphrey Caldigate a Christian was all but completed". It is in the lead-in to that traumatic moment when John Caldigate lays eyes on Thomas Crinkett, and the passage calls our attention to how important in this novel is Caldigate's sense of what others feel as they look at his Australian connections (to use the old-fashioned 18th century term):
When the ceremony of making the young Daniel Humphrey Caldigate a Christian was all but completed, he fancies that he saw old Mr Bolton's eyes fixed on something in the church, and he turned his head suddenly, with no special purpose, but simply looking, as one is apt to look, when another looks. There he saw, on a seat divided frm himself by the breadth of the little nave, Thomas Crinkett, sitting with another man.
There was not the shadow of a doubt on his mind as to the identity of the Australian -- nor as to that of Crinkett's companion. At the moment he did not remember the man's name, but he knew him as a miner with whom he had been familaiar at Ahalala, and who had been in partnership with himself and Crinkett at Noble -- as one who had, alas! been in his society when Euphemia Smith had been there also. At that instant he remembered the fact that the man had called Euphemia Smith Mrs Caldigate in his presence, and that he had let the name pass without remonstrance. The memory of that moment flashed across him now as he quickly turned back his face towards his child who was still uttering his little wail in the arms of the clergyman (Folio Society John Caldigate, introd. RCTerry, p. 204 and facing illustration).
The still scene we gaze at occurs just before Caldigate sees this witness. As I remarked last week, the older forms of recognized marriage (where vows said in the presence of a witness in the present tense and then simply acknowledgement of someone as wife or husband were customarily taken to mean the two were married and could form the basis of litigation) are still in place in the memory of our novelist and he assumes that they are in our memory. It is evidence against Caldigate that he never corrected anyone who called Euphemia Mrs Caldigate.
The picture is quickly described: we see the loving mother bending down over her child; behind her is Caldigate; to the facing right the clergyman. The font is prominently before us, very large: this is a novel where religion plays a part in rationales. Caldigate is a handsome young man without being pretty; he looks intently at Hester. Towards the back we see various figures looking on under gothic arches; all are sketched in but two men and one woman. Perhaps they are the Boltons. Curiously this is another picture which what matters is not what we see in the picture, but what swirls around just beyond it: in this case the ghost of Caldigate's past become real living flesh with a memory. As the text moves on we are told that Crinkett has placed himself on a seat "usually occupied by parish boys at the end of the row of appropriate seats and near to the door". Just out of reach of the illustration. We are told he is close to the font.
I like the reference to the child's "still uttering his little wail". Trollope solicits the reader's memory of children's behavior in just such scenes. Yet at the same time, the child does wail, is (rightly) not made happy by all this. In Lear there is a line about children born coming in wailing ...
Cheers to all,
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 25-30: A Christening & An Encounter (II)
The man just out of sight of our view of the font and christening is one of two central figures in the second illustration for this week: an encounter between Caldigate and Crinkett outside the house where they can talk privately, as our narrator says with "the least chance of encountering many eyes". The caption is: "They had, on the one hand or the other as they turned, the long, straight, deep dike ..."
The landscape of the scene reminds me of the drawings of the landscape for _The Last Chronicle of Barset_ by George Housman Thomas. Here, for example, is the vignette for Chapter 12 ("Mr Crawley Seeks for Sympathy"):
We see a realistic depiction of a brickshed, straw on top, tools inside, nearby a hard-worked well, a little farther off another frail-looking structure. A small wooden bridge crosses a stream; agricultural tools are stewn in the distance. This is a scene of the landscape after its inhabitants have left a hard day's labour over it. It recalls water scenes in Dickens's novels. The sky is lowering but clear at the edges (through a light and heavy use of lines).
The difference is that Mosley doesn't elaborate the details so realistically. He contents himself with suggestive lines. The two figures stand on what looks like marshland; to the back of them is a long meandering canal or dike; tall grasses grow by its edge. At a distance we see some farm buildings and a house, also cornstacks; the sky is cloudy, full of damp. At the two men's feet are puddles. The men face one another stiffly; on Caldigate's face is stiff irritation; he looks thin; his hands are clasped behind his back. Crinkett has a derby hat; his hands are in a fist pointing to himself. His face is much coarses than Caldigate's, rounder featured; he has sideburns (as Caldigate does not -- Caldigate is relatively hairless in comparison). Crinkett looks like he is demanding something he is owed.
Here is the full passage:
The spot was not attractive, as far as rural prettiness was concerned. They had, on the one hand or the other as they turned, the long, straight, deep dike which had been cut at right angles to the Middle Wash; and around, the fields were flat, plashy, and heavy-looking with the mud of February. 'And them are all yourn?' he said, pointing to a crowd of cornstacks standing in the haggard.
'Yes, they're mind. I wish they were not'.
'What do you mean by that?'
'As prices are at present, a man doesn't make much by growing corn and keeping it to this time of year'.
'And where them chimneys is -- is that yourn?' This he said pointing along the straight line of the road to Farmer Holt's homestead, which showed itself on the other side of the Wash.
'It belongs to the estate', said Caldigate.
'By jingo! And how I remember your a-coming and talking to me across the gate at Polyeuka Hall!' (Folio Society John Caldigate, introd. RCTerry, Ch 28, p. 210 and facing illustration).
The conversation continues with Caldigate describing (and justifying) himself as someone who came to Australia and worked hard to retrieve these estates for himself. He insists "'I worked hard for it, and when I got it I didn't run riot'" (p. 211). To which Crinkett says slyly, "'Not with drink') (p. 211). The reference is to pleasures with Euphemia. Crinkett then says that Caldigate was "lucky -- infernally lucky', to which Caldigate replies, "'You didn't do so bad yourself'" (p. 211).
Here we have the opening of negotiations -- which in other situations many of us may have gone through. You first deny you have much money; you are not rich; your funds are in fact tied up. Then positions are staked out and bargaining begins. What is interesting about this scene is that Trollope presents Caldigate as guilty: Caldigate begins to wonder if he doesn't owe this man something; did he do right to take all the money out of the mine when they were willing to take what they thought was such a rich vein. We can't be sure if this is rationalising a desire to pay the man off or not, but it does make Caldigate more sympathetic. He is not hard, grasping, unable to see the other guy's side.
The whole of the dialogue between these two men which follows is worth following with the same care in which Trollope intuitively wrote it. We can see how Caldigate is weakened, thinks to give something; how Crinkett makes his appeal and also needles Caldigate. How behind all this is Caldigate's :fear of the woman": that which he is silent over drives the conversation: "He could not bring himself to betray the fear which would become evident if he spoke of the woman" (p. 214). Trollope understands that what we are silent about is sometimes the most important thing in a dialogue. In this conversation also and elsewhere Trollope seems to want to exonerate Euphemia or present Caldigate as exonerating her by suggesting she is Crinkett's instrument. It doesn't persuade. We remember her as stronger and more independent willed than that.
As the two talk, Robert Bolton comes up, and Caldigate remembers he should not give way; that makes him look guilty. He tells Crinkett to see his brother-in-law, which gives Crinkett the opportunity deny that Bolton is Caldigate's brother-in-law.
The chapter ends with two contrasting chords. Crinkett and Caldigate return to Jack Adamson and the two of them characterizing an "estated gent" as "mean skunk". The gardener overhears. Then we listen to to Hester's assertion of loyalty to John, and his "prostration" over the "coming misery" for himself and her.
A good choice of subject matter and if the drawing is not as carefully done (especially with respect to the figures), our attention is called to the reality that it is untrue that Trollope's fictions are almost wholly about the rich and superrich, set in glamorous among the so-called powerful.
In this chapter we see what is the nature of power: it is the ability to punish someone else for someone, to make them pay. Mrs Bolton is powerless over her daughter because she cannot punish her; she has no power but sheer force to keep Hester with her.
Cheers to all,
May 19, 2001
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 31-36: An Unexpected Choice of Picture?
With so many graphic dramatic scenes, several filled with action or active anguish, paragraphs thrown off everywhere which are highly pictorial, it seems downright perverse for Mosley to have chosen to draw the scene where the two clerics, Mr Smirkie and Mr Bromley walk in the park together shortly before Julia Babington's marriage to Mr Smirkie. However, the quietude of the moment probably lends itself better to wood engravings: graphic action often comes out as a caricature of hysterics.
More the theme of the conversation between these two men is central to the book: Mr Smirkie demands that Mr Bromley "do his duty" and attempt to separate John and Hester Caldigate. Our narrator makes it clear during this conversation that Mr Smirkie is a self-satisfied hypocrite, shallow, unfeeling, indifferent to whatever this pair of people might feel or really be. He is a kind of Mr Collins (I allude to Austen's clergyman in P&P whose notion of Christian charity leads him to write Mr Bennet telling him to throw off Lydia, and when he doesn't, to write again to tell him never to receive her.)
Trollope probably also chose to give this dialogue between Smirkie (what a name) and Bromley at this point because Julia Babington is about to marry Smirkie and everyone about her, especially the aunt congratulates her endlessly upon the how "providential" it was that she didn't marry Caldigate. I have no doubt we are to feel that Julia would have had the far more fulfilled (happy) and humane life with Caldigate than she can ever have shackled to a man like Smirkie.
There is an analogous contrast between Smirkie and Caldigate because Smirkie has also been married before: only Smirkie was married in England and fully legally, and then his wife died. Still he is a man who has had a previous wife; as the chapter progresses we hear that Julia will be expected to cope with his children from a previous marriage, cater to him, present a face towards his parishioners, and be prepared to produce 2 or 3 glasses of port for him each Sunday. Some of the language Trollope uses for this man pinpoint a parallel between him and Caldigate, with the effect of the irony recalling Austen talking about dense selfish somewhat cold fools like John Dashwood (in Sense and Sensibility:
This was the second Suffolk young lady that Mr Smirkie had married, and he was therefore entitled to popularity. He certainly had done as much as he could, and there was probably no one around who had done more (Folio Society John Caldigate, introd RCTerry, Ch 32, "Babington Wedding", p. 247).
The last line has a quiet savage irony.
So the choice of picture highlights a central theme, and comparison of Trollope's. Caldigate, we are to see, does all he can for his tenants; is genuinely a good landlord.
The caption is, "The two clergymen were taking a walk together", and the conversation as follows:
Hitherto Mr Bromley had been very short in his expressions respecting the Folking tragedy, having simply declared that, judging by character, he could not conceive that a man such as Caldigate would have been guilty of such a crime [deliberate bigamy]. But now he was being put through his facings more closely by his brother-in-law.
'Why should I want to separate them?'
'Because the evidence of his guilt is so strong'.
'That is for a jury to judge' (p. 242 and facing illustration).
We see two clergymen walking side-by-side. They are thin men wearing closely identifical clerical garments, including a narrow brimmed hat, high turned collar, long black coat a cassock or skirt-looking garment. Their legs are drawn as moving in parallel unison; even their shoes look alike and their feet have the same arch. Their shadows repeat the same lines. To the left of the drawing we glimpse part of a tree; to the right and in the distance are more trees. But this is left very sketchy; mostly the drawing has a white background. The effect is to make us look at their faces: Mr Bromley looks discomfitted, frowning; he is the figure on the left. Smirkie on the right turns his head which is partly in the shade; he has a Smirk on his face and wears glasses which hide his eyes. His nose is narrow, his cheeks thin, slightly gaunt. The effect is to make this reader feel sorry for Julia.
Illustrators also follow an internal logic in making a series of pictures for a novel. In the original illustrations to Trollope's novels and in the illustrations to the other Folio Society books I have looked at thus far, one can find deliberately parallel pictures. In the illustrations to The Vicar of Bullhampton, Henry Woods draw all three heroines in deliberately parallel postures; in the series by Miss E. Taylor for the second half of Can You Forgive Her? Miss Taylor drew Lady Glen, Alice and Kate Vavasour in parallel scenes of reverie. Millais has complicated parallels and contrasts in his pictures. Also in other novels the illustrator may focus on scenes that the reader may feel are not emphasized: so to look at the pictures of Orley Farm you would think it is the story of a young gentlemen and his mother who lose everything unfairly. Well in this novel we have had two pictures of men interacting with one another before this: the first of three men sitting by a fire eating; the second, last week, of Caldigate and Crinkett confronting and arguing with one another in a bleakish damp landscape is set up in direct parallel to this of two men walking and talking. The figures are drawn very similarly; next week's picture shows us Caldigate and Bollum just before Caldigate gives Bollum the £20,000. Further if the text has made us feel that the novel is about a struggle between women, the pictures remind us it's the men who control the money, the men who get to choose their marital partners, the men who call in the cards at the end of each game and have to pay for this privilege in whatever way their society sets up.
Cheers to all,
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 37-42: The Jericho Coffee-House
This past week's chapters include but one picture: it's of the Jericho Coffee-House, of John Caldigate sitting in a stall, turning round in an irritated intense fashion, with very dark and apprehensive look on his face, and of Bollum approaches him gingerly with hand that has a deprecatingly genial gesture, ostentatiously dressed as a gentleman (he holds his top hat in his hand) as he walks up to the stall and Caldigate turns round to acknowledge his presence. Caldigate is about to make "restitution" (the title of the chapter), his hand is in a tight fist on the table.
The caption is as follows: "It was at the Jericho Coffee-house, in Levant Court". The illustration itself once again is not that good on the figures: they are too stiff; not enough time has been taken to draw the faces which are either too cartoon like or overly-dramatic. Caldigate is recognizable from the other pictures, but he is here looking much older. Perhaps we are to take it that this ordeal is aging the man.
However, what Mosley does do that is interesting is draw the place. Wwe see a waiter with handle-bar mustache, striped waistcoat, collar and tie, and long white apron over his trousers. He has a tray with a pewter mug on it and is approaching other people in other stalls lined against a wall. On a shelf above the stalls are what look like upside down small barrels which are marked Gin, Sheery, Port, Brandy; ornate Victorian lighting, designs, a wooden floor, the sort of tables and benches which are nailed to the ground and are part of the stalls; a ceiling with thin beams disclosed, and some curvy glass windows remind me of Victorian-looking ice-cream parlours in NYC when I was young -- except of course in this place ice cream is not sold. I like the workaday yet elegant chandeliers. They are not superfancy, made of thousands of bits of glass the way the chandeliers were in Is He Popenjoy? places. These are the kind of flower shapres on a circle of wood with a brass ornament in the center that is still common in pub-looking places.
The passage across from this picture runs as follows:
a silent, secluded spot, lying between Lombard Street and Cornhill. Here he found himself ten minutes before the time, and, asking for a cup of coffee, sat down at a table fixed to the ground in a little separate box. The order was given to a young woman at a bar in the room. Then an ancient waiter hobbled up to him and explained that coffee was not quite ready. In truth, coffee was not often asked for at the Jericho Cofffee-house. The house, said the waitor, was celebrated for its sherry. Would mhe take half a pint of sherry? So he ordered the sherry which was afterwards drunk by Bollum. Bollum came, punctual to the moment, and seated himself at the table with good- humour alacrity. 'Well, Mr Caldigate, how is it to be? I think you must have seen that what I proposed will be for the best'.
'I will tell you what I meant to do, Mr Bollum', said Caldigate, very gravely ... (Folio Society John Caldigate, Ch 39, p. 302 and facing illustration).
The moment is an important one -- as have the other encounters with his opponents Caldigate has had, each of which Mosley has visualised. The scene marks the story as carefully set in a particular era, place, cultural milieu. This too is true to Trollope's text.
Cheers to all,
June 3, 2001
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 43-48: Pictures About the Banished Man
Now that our prince-hero has vanished from the scene, been banished from intercourse with others in society, Mosley's illustrations have to focus on other characters. In this past week's the two emphasize theme, plot device, and point out towards our absent prince.
The first is a confrontation between Mr and Mrs Bolton. The caption sums up her attitude: "It is the bread of adultery". Her husband has "weakly" suggested that the verdict does not erase Hester's marriage, and thus (by implication) that Hester is not living the life of a whore or mistress; the wife grows indignant at this sop: now that Hester nows she was betrayed, lied to, "every mouthful she eats of his bread is a sin". The passage facing the illustration is the one where the narrator tells us that Mrs Bolton was having a triumph; that any allusion to the idea that the verdict might be a mistake is distasteful to her, that she does not want to rehabilitate her daughter, but take her back to live with her in "sackcloth and ashes" and basically worship their coming death. Mosley has not drawn Mrs Bolton's face very well, but he does draw her body intensely rigid; the woman holds her hands together and arms against her body like one tight knot. Her dress looks heavy, stiff; the lines make it look like so much iron. She looks down on an old man stiting in a chair. His face is well drawn, carefully: lines of care, and wariness are in his face; his eyes look up at her from an angle; his posture in his chair is one of alert nervousness; his hands are folded together. His knees look bony and stick up. One cannot imagine him being physically aggressive. Behind them we see another Victorian drawing room, tables, wall paper. There is a picture on the wall which looks like a girl in white who has fallen and is being helped by a man. A reference to Hester and Daniel Caldigate? Mr Bolton half- hearted defends Hester by saying that it is "the old man's bread" she is eating. (Folio Society John Caldigate, introd. RCTerry, Ch 45, p. 348 and facing illustration).
The illustration really drawns our attention to Mr Bolton. We are to compare his case with that of Daniel Caldigate. There is no doubt who has the livable life. In delineating a character and his or her relationship to others, Trollope always takes into account who is dominate, who submits. He often suggest that the one who grasps power is usually mean (in every way).
The caption of the second picture parallels the grammar of the first: "It is almost conclusive". Mosley has chosen to draw the comic scene where Bagwax sits in front of a desk piled high with envelopes bearing the Sidney post-mark and scans them with his magnifying glass. Next to Bagwax sits Curlydown who also has a magnifying glass, but far fewer envelopes. The expression on Curlydown's face is one of irritation, slight alienation; the expression on Bagwax's face is calm satisfaction as he holds up his magnifying glass. The illustration visualizes many of the details in the whole page across from it. I will only type a bit of these:
On a certain morning in August, Babwax was seated at his table which as usual was laden with the envelopes of many letters. Thre were some hundreds before him ,the marks on which he was perusing with a strong magnifying glass ... He spent the entire day with the magnifying glass in hand -- but as Curlydown was also always armed in the same fashion, that was not peculiar. They did much of their work withsuch tools ... The 7th of May was among his treasures for some time, and now he had acquired an entire letter, envelope and all, which bore the Sydney impression of the 13th of May. This was a great triumph. 'I have brought it within a week', he said to Curlydown, bending over the glass, and inspecting at the same time the two dates. 'What's the good of that?' ... 'All the good in the world', said Bagwax brandishing his own magnifier with energy. 'It is almost conclusive' (Ch 37, p. 366 and facing illustration).
Mosley spend a good deal of his energy and detail in showing us the faces of the two clerks, their careful suits, high collars, ties, carefully cut hair, moustaches. They sit in parallel posture, mirroring one another. In front of Bagwax's table are large sacks; behind them in light stencilling we see further clerks with moustaches walking about; some have uniforms of some sort; there are stairs leading up to another cavern; partitions, columns towards the back. A large Victorian institutional office is before us.
The two men facing one another recall the several sets of two men facing one another we have had: Caldigate and first one tormentor by a canal; then Caldigate with the other in a coffee house; Mr Smirkie confronting Mr Bromley as they walk in tandem. In a sense Caldigate has defied institutional protection; he has thought he didn't need it The scene is comic but has resonances.
Cheers to all,
Re: John Caldigate, Chs 49-54: Picture of a Man Caught Between Two Women
While the illustrations for John Caldigate by Francis Mosley have often been pictorially disappointing, many of them have presented an incident from one part of the story as a paradigm for the whole. Many of them are poorly drawn; they don't have careful detail; they are neither parodic nor monumental and idealised. Occasionally Mosley shows he has not bothered even to do the homework to get the specifics of an object right (as in his choice of a Yankee clipper ship for the Goldfinder). Yet again and again a frame -- or snapshot for that's what the model in Mosley's mind seems to be, a kind of snapshot in lines -- is holographic: the moment in this part of the book is drawn in such a way as to contain the whole story or figure forth an important conflict in the story. Hester as virgin-trophy wife, idyllic in white, fecund obedient femininity down to her modest basket and carefully draped bosom; in a garden bounded by a wall; Euphemia sitting alone, shabby, on a pipe, sharp-faced, waiting, bounded by nothing; many pictures of two males facing one another, confrontations over money, choices. In a novel where the action is -- as is common -- often most vividly dramatized in women-dominated scenes, Mosley has chosen to depict the men -- and outside the courtroom. Like the original illustrators of Trollope's novels, he avoids the main plot and highlights a sub-thread. So we have no pictures of the courtroom, but what is happening outside it that leaks through -- like the demand for and giving of money by Caldigate (that took two illustrations).
This week we see a man standing between two wome; each one holds one of his arms; he stands there stiffly between them, both arms outward and held firm. The bodies of the two women face one another. They stare intently into the man's face while he looks at one of them with a sort of glazed non-expression in his eyes. He is on guard. Here we have a paradigm of John Caldigate between Euphemia and Hester.
This is only the central triangle of our novel: the plot-design repeats itself obsessively. Earlier triangles of the story, the ones we started out with, were: John Caldigate between Maria Shand and Julia Babington; and John Caldigate between Maria Shand and Euphemia Smith. The narrator underlined the latter parallel by means of books: Maria with her taste for Thomson's Seasons signals us that she is sentimental and sweet; Euphemia with her sophisticated tastes in the latest darker fictions of the period signals a woman who is going to value money and use sex to get it. The point at the time was how Caldigate genuinely hurt Maria. The Shands are a poignant family: Daniel Caldigate despises them, while his son, acknowledging they are good and his father is wrong personally to disdain them, nonetheless exploits each one to his own advantage.
The later triangle was the usual subplot parallel: Julia Babington between Mr Smirkie and John Caldigate: our narrator has reminds us more than once that there was a Mrs Smirkie in such a way as to present him as a man who has had two wives. The comic point is to highlight his hypocrisy (it's okay if you marry them) and his actual amorality (as pointed out by Daniel Caldigate): Smirkie thinks he's better than Caldigate; real ethics shows us he's much worse. His standard is not selfishness; it's merely law and custom which the book works to show us is amoral. Smirkie exploits his women to his advantage too.
The picture, though, is not embedded in any of these earlier sequences where it would be just as apposite (or, to use French, à propos). The caption is "Dick was led away at once to the table on the lawn". The passage facing the illustration makes us identify the man as Dick Shand; the women on either side of him are his sisters examining him. Mosley has carefully dressed his male figure in precisely the manner Trollope describes:
"the yellow trousers were of strong material, and in good order, made of that colour for colonial use, probably with the idea of expressing some contempt for the dingy hues which prevail among the legs of men at home. He wore a very large checked waistcoat, and a stout square coat of the same material" (Folio Society John Caldigate, introd RCTerry, Ch 49, p. 381 and facing illustration).
The picture is touching because in this case Mosley has gone to the trouble of making faces which look into one another with that look of sudden examination people have when they see one another after a long time:
As they examined him, holding him by the arms and hands and gazing up into his face, the same idea occurred to all of them. Though they knew him very well now, they would hardly have known him had they met him suddenly in the streets. He seemed to have grown fifteen years older during the seven years of absence. His face had become thin and long and almost hollow. His beard when all round his chin, and was clipped into the appearance of a stiff thick hedge -- equally thick, and equally broad, and equally protrusive at all parts. And within this enclosure it was shorn. But his mouth had sunk in, and his eyes. In colour he was almost darker than brown. You would have said that his skin had been tanned black, but for the infusin of red across it here and there. He semed to be in good present health, but certainly bore the traces of many hardships (pp. 381-382).
Mosley has, for once, given real details: not only of the checked waistcoat, and bright-looking trousers, but of the thin face, busy beard hollowed out along the chin, the sunken cheeks. He here visualizes one of Trollope's central motifs of the novel: how going away from a civilized controlled society will bring out of people the underlying strengths and weaknesses of them, and some will fall very low in a real hierarchy, one based on one's natural characteristics rather than on some rank or money which has been inherited and provided a patina of manners; some will rise; out of the depths of others will come "gut" impulses and obsessions.
Early in the book we lost a noble soul to alcoholism; Dick has not been lost, but he no longer presents a type of gentleman whose word everyone will believe -- Trollope makes good use of how people judge one another based on such external criteria in this part of the novel. Just about everyone is strongly tempted to disbelieve Shand; the only ones who believe him without any doubt are Daniel and Hester, and even Daniel after he leaves the Home Office begins to have his doubts when he is led to see Dick's evidence through the eyes of Joram and other officials. This is one of the "lessons" of Trollope's book, and an important one: how the world frames you is how your character, your truths will be judged. Caldigate was early on "framed" as amoral; now Shand is framed as someone significant people (like Judge Bramber) should not bother listening to. In real life I have discovered this to be very true: when I was in my 30s I lived in a very different neighborhood than I do now and am "framed" by outsiders by these different neighborhoods; go to school and be put in an honours class and your essay will be valued; take the same essay in a non-honours class and hardly will the teacher pay attention; the teacher him or herself is someone the school probably does not value.
Re: John Caldigate: The Last Illustrations
The last three illustrations by Francis Mosley for the Folio Society edition of John Caldigate resemble most of the others in the book in that the choice of theme is rich but the actual rendition of the picture somewhat disappointing. Two of them again make us focus not on the female center of the story but the male.
The antepenultimate picture in the book places the visual focus squarely on Crinkett. We look at the deck of a boat once again -- as we did in the opening pictures. Most of the people a are in shadows; fully delineated and leaning over the railing we see Crinkett once again, this time smoking his pipe. He stands very still and the effect would be one of calmness, except when we look at his eyes, we see them move upwards, and squint (very bad in Victorian novels), and his legs are slightly moving nervously, and he's altogether too tense, with his fists tightly closed. The caption is "Crinkett, never letting the pipe out of his mouth, stood leaning against the taffrail", but if we look at the whole paragraph, indeed the page from which this is plucked we see Trollope includes much description of the women's impatience and anxiety to get away, a sharp dialogue between Mrs Smith and Mr Crinkettt in which he demands the right to hold the purse of money (and apparently makes it stick). Right before the line about Crinkett, Trollope writes: "the women trembled, huddled together in the poop of the vessel". We only see the apparently stalwart man waiting and behind him silhouetted figures looking over the railing, also waiting for the ship to leave. (Folio Society John Caldigate, introd. RCTerry, Ch 55, p. 429 and facing illustration).
Throughout the book Mosley has focused our attention on the males. After all it is Crinkett who holds the money, Crinkett the woman huddle around. The pictures tell of a patriarchy with men in charge.
The penultimate picture is not of Hester and Caldigate coming together nor of Caldigate coming home (the theme makes me remember Monteverdi's opera, the return of Ulysses to his country). No. It's Daniel Caldigate sitting on a bench in a park, after he has failed to secure anything definitely hopeful from the Secretary of State, only managed to assert his "right to express my natural anxiety". It is actually the moment when Daniel is revolving the evidence over in his mind and beginning to see that it ould be interpreted as still against his son: "Could it be that Shand was false, that Bagwax was false, that the postage stamp was false -- and that he only believed them to be true? Was it possible that after all his son had married the woman?" (pp. 444-445).
The caption is "Going into the gardens, he wandered about them for more than an hour". We see a bare but slightly picturesque scene. To the right of the picture space is a lake, ornamental, with dukes; nearby is a nurse rolling a man in a sort of car (an early wheel-chair), some elegant couples; behind to the back and over across the pictures are governmental looking buildings, in from of them a few trees. To the left close to us, in full view an old man sits on a bench; he looks down sadly; his face is wrinkled; he wears a bowler hat and holds a cane. His posture is depressed. I find the figures too stiff; the white background calls out for more lines, but this bareness has been the style throughout, also the thinness and erectness of the figure. A quietly melancholy picture, very appropriate for the whole theme which Daniel Caldigate carries through the book, for the way he is depicted, someone slightly apart, and not very effective in the way he would have liked to be (p. 444 and facing illustration).
Doris mentioned the moving moment of John and his father's reunion; this has been a moment we have been waiting for from the opening of the book when the two were separated. The illustrations visualises this waiting, and also where the story began, in which two estranged men.
The last illustration is a darkend silhouette. We see two gentlemen from the back; they wear top hats and elegant suits; they have their arms relaxed; one man's arm is to the back. Between them is a woman, her hair in a knot, her dress not extravagant; a mild bustle. They stand on a long stretch of grass in front of which is a canal of water. We saw that canal of water earlier -- when Caldigate first met with Crinkett and money was demanded. Now they look across and we see a sketched in farmhouse; near it is a group of darkened small figures dancing about a bonfire. The sky is filled in with light cross-hatching throughout except for a full moon. The caption is "Their own figures, too, were observed in the moonlight". Next to the picture is a long paragraph describing the tenants before an "enormous bonfire:
All the rotten timber about the place and two or three tar-barrels had been got together, and there were collected all the inhabitants of two parishes. The figures of the boys and girls and of the slow rustics with their wives could be seen moving about indistinctly across the water by the fluttering flame of the bonfire. And their figures too, were observed in the moonlight ... (pp. 484-5 and facing illustration).
This is the sort of scene George Housman Thomas filled The Last Chronicle of Barset with: the ordinary working countryside. There is more of that in Trollope than people take note of in print, and it's more important in the feel of his stories and their meaning than is given credit for.
We are not told who observed these three watching from afar. Trollope himself. It is another triangle: another pair of people of one sex, this time men, with one of the other, this time a woman, and matches the picture of Dick Shand come home and held by his two sisters which I described from last week.
Mosley's illustrations have brought out more of the intriguing complexities of the book than can be elicited, teased out, through argument or talk about characters, plot or social circumstances (context) or intertextuality (how this text relates to others by Trollope and his contemporaries).
Cheers to all,
Date: Sun, 22 Apr 2001
Subject: [trollope-l] John Caldigate: Illustrations
This is to thank Dagny for her encouragement to go on describing the new and original illustrations to Trollope's novels as we carry on reading them.
In writing my book one of the two most interesting kinds of research I did was to study the original illustrations of Trollope's novels. I obtained the books and saw the prints through going to rare book rooms of various libraries, using the GMU excellent service of interlibrary loan, and buying inexpensive originally pirated Amercan editions of the books. I also read books by art historians and historians of print which suggested how Victorians responded to illustrations, how they "read" them. One woman studied the original illustrations to Dickens's Old Curiosity Shop: it may be of interest to our Dickens people to know that Dickens carefully superintended the placement as well as subject and treatment of the illustrations to his books once he had the power to. It was important that the illustration be "dropped" into the text facing the picture for an essential part of "reading" illustrations is to stop reading, or pause, and consider the text in terms of the picture and the picture in terms of the text. It's a form of meditation on the visualisations, some of which are in the text, some of which add to or interpret the artist's words. Trollope himself did this with Millais's illustrations of Orley Farm: Trollope writes in the novel that Millais's conception of Lady Mason awakened him to aspects of his own conception he had not been fully aware of. If anyone is interested I can find the author's name and the name of her essays.
What illustrations can do when they are done with care and thought and placed appropriately is enrichen the experience of reading. They also interpret the text: this can irritate a novelist who dislikes the interpretation. Famously Henry James refused to have illustrations to his novels. I expect movies today supercede many individual's experience and response to novels even if they see the movie after they have read the novel. This can be a shame if the reader is not someone who reads very carefully. In effect they are not reading the author's novel but skimming through it more superficially while bringing to it the pre-fixed interpretation the movie gave them. Thus Jane Austen's novels become sheerly poignant romances instead of satirical ones, or erotic stories (her send-up of Ann Radcliffe becomes a movie that is close to Ann Radcliffe's text and mood not her own). Other readers can get irritated by a movie because it can "ruin" their original reading or irritate them because it disagrees with what they cherish.
I found that with the original illustrations to Trollope's novels I was given some insight into how the publisher expected the reader to read Trollope's novels, to respond to them. I was also given the artist's individual insight into them as well as sheerly more information. All good illustrations should make you sit up and take notice of details which might pass you by as you read. They highlight incidents and the placement of incidents. Thus the romantic view of a clipper ship next to the tentatively poignant goodbye of Mrs Smith to Caldigate emphasises her emotions towards him. A reader might hurry by this paragraph or not notice it very much. The picture of the Australian goldmining landscape does the same thing.
Perhaps one purpose or at least result of having illustrations in a book is to slow a given reading down. Pictures make the reader go more slowly through the part of the text they face or pause and go through it more than once. You compare it to the picture. They then form a skein of such experiences, a little visual novel-story in themselves.
Cheers to all,