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« This Week's Acquisitions | Main | Ulverton »

June 12, 2005



"Trollope... prefers to locate his most important upheavals in the recesses of a character's consciousness."

James Branch Cabell chose another 19th-century exemplar:

"I am thus digressing, in obsolete Thackerayan fashion, to twaddle about love-matches alone. People marry through a variety of other reasons, and with varying results: but to marry for love is to invite inevitable tragedy. There needs no side-glancing here at such crass bankruptcies of affection as end in homicide or divorce proceedings, or even just in daily squabbling: these dramas are of the body. They may be taken as the sardonic comedies, or at their most outrageous as the blustering cheap melodramas, of existence; and so lie beyond the tragic field. For your true right tragedy is enacted on the stage of a man's soul, with the man's reason as lone auditor."

(The Cream of the Jest)


Dear Miriam,

I agree that the one fascinating character in the novel is the Countess. I like the analogy of her to Louis Trevelyan, and would add that Trollope has numbers of obsessives, and they emerge usually from frustrations, anxieties and rage stemming from sexual, class, and money anxieties and (inner) maiming. She is inexorable, but she is also inexorable because she lives in the delusion that everyone is paying as much attention to her as she is. Trollope knows better than this, and at the close of the book presents her Lacanian perspective
as absurd.

The "moral" lesson she never learns is her own (real, in effect) insignificance to everyone else. Most of the characters never learn this. In Trollope only lawyers of the caliber of Chaffanbrass catch on.

Chava (Ellen from C18-l)

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