Thursday, August 25, 2011

Productive Trollope --> productive Wuthering Expectations

At one point, I doubted that it would be possible to write and write and write about Trollope and his nearly endless string of not indistinguishable novels.  How wrong I was!  But of course a good critic, or even his amateur imitation, should be able throw off  200 or 500 or, heaven help us, 1,000 words about any passage of literature picked at random, and since Trollope is stuffed with passages that almost seem to have been written at random, he is an outstanding book bloggish resource.  Not the tightest of writers, Trollope.  I believe I said that yesterday.  Another useful tool for writers, bloggers or Trollope, is repetition.

I should perhaps wonder more if I can write and write etc. about Trollope without boring my soft-hearted readers, or myself, into the grave.  We shall find out!  2 Barchester + 6 Palliser + He Knew He Was Right + the one about manuring techniques + the autobiography + a few more, multiplied by, say four posts per book, gives fifty posts, more or less.  I can almost see the shadowy form of my future Best Classics Blogger award hidden among those imaginary posts.*

A note for further Trollope reading:

Mark Robarts, Framley Parsonage’s clergyman protagonist, falls, or leaps, into money trouble because of his association with fast-livers, leisured gentlemen who kill their day by “riding after a fox or killing poor birds,” as Lucy describes her beloved’s pursuits in the great Ch. 26.  So of course Mark takes up hunting too:

The reader must not think that he had taken to hunting, as some parsons do; and it is singular enough that whenever they do so they always show a special aptitude for the pursuit, as though hunting were an employment peculiarly congenial with a cure of souls in the country.  Such a thought would do our vicar injustice. (Ch. 3)

Or, I guess, Mark does not take up hunting.  Trollope just denied it, even called it an injustice.  A key Trollopian problem is figuring out how seriously to take anything narrator-Trollope says.  Here is the end of the paragraph, which I now suspect I should take quite seriously:

It would be absurd to say that his time would be better employed at home in clerical matters, for it was notorious that he had not clerical pursuits for the employment of half his time.

This specific idea, that Mark does not work hard enough, and that almost no one expects him to work harder than he does, is an undercurrent of Framley Parsonage.  Idle hands, as they say.  But “absurd,” “notorious”: though Trollope plays at defending Mark, at propping up our sympathy, that last line is a rhetorical stiletto.  One might detect a hint of anger.  I need to keep my eyes open for the Carlylian Trollope, the Trollope whose motto is “Produce! Produce!” and who is skeptical or worse towards the non-productive.

*  Many thanks, by the way, to whomever was involved in nominating me for this award.


  1. Just realised that I hadn't congratulated you on *your* blog - so congratulations!

    P.S. I almost, very nearly nominated you myself, but I couldn't find an e-mail address (required by this year's Draconian rules), so I supposed it was serendipity - obviously not ;)

  2. Oh, thanks. I did not nominate anyone at all, mistakenly believing that we were under last year's impossible self-nomination regime. Next year I will try to pay more attention.

    My email is gathering dust at the bottom of the page, near the ludicrous but inspirational Carlyle quotation that I refer to in this very post.

  3. Now I see it, too late ;)

    Sad to see you didn't make it onto the shortlist - you were my favourite of the longlist (but I wasn't that surprised about the final shortlist, to be honest).

  4. Believe me, there is no sadness here! It's all a sort of experiment in social networking. I am on the edge of that particular network.

    Go get 'em, Rebecca Reads!