The Way We Live Now
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The Way We Live Now
Introduction by Noel Annan
Many see this as Trollope's nearest attempt at 'the great novel', conceived on the Dickensian scale of Bleak House or Little Dorrit. Others remember it for the monumentally savage portrait of the great financier, railway stock promoter, Member of Parliament and swindler, Augustus Melmotte. But in Trollope's own notes it is headed 'The Carbury Novel': and the reason is not far to seek. The chief character was intended to be Lady Matilda Carbury 'an aspiring but unsuccessful authoress, fatuously devoted to her disreputable son Sir Felix.' Even without our knowledge of the Trollope family's somewhat chequered financial history, it is hard not to see the elements of Anthony's mother appearing in the relentless novelist who could 'write after a glib, commonplace, sprightly fashion, and had already acquired the knack of spreading all she knew very thin, so that it might cover a vast surface. She had no ambition to write a good book, but was painfully anxious to write a book that the critics should say was good.' However, as so often in the case of Anthony Trollope, another character took over. Melmotte and his massive swindling schemes increasingly come to dominate the action of this fascinating, teeming novel. Some find his original in George Hudson, the railway king, whose world collapsed in ruins in 1849. Some find him in Albert Gottheimer, a central European who was perhaps the first to discover how a gullible public could be exploited by the unscrupulous, who were in turn protected by the Limited Liability Company. Gottheimer changed his name to Grant, and he, too, became a member of Parliament. So did George Hudson: and so does Melmotte. Of these three outrageous rogues, the most fascinating is Trollope's - and in Melmotte's spectacular appearance, after his disgrace, in the Chamber of the House of Commons, Trollope gives us one of the most dramatic scenes in all Victorian fiction. Towards the end of the fourteen months he spent writing this remarkable novel, he crossed out 'The Carbury Novel' and wrote down 'The Life We Live Now'. Even if it was not his original intention, he had given us a book which had its origins in his belief that contemporary England had become stained purple by financial profligacy, large scale fraud, and a total lack of the most elemental principles of honesty.
Publication Price: £38.00/$76.00.
Sir Harry Hotspur
Introduction by Sue Bradbury
This is a novel about the death of the heart: perhaps the closest Anthony Trollope ever came to genuine tragedy. One of his shorter books, it sustains his fascination with the pursuit of hereditary titles and wealth through well-connected marriages: as with many of his other novels, it is proven to be a particularly empty pursuit, and one that is painfully inadvisable. Trollope chose to set it mainly in the fells of Cumberland, in a place he called Scarrowby. Michael Sadleir points out that the description of Humblethwaite Hall is 'the most arresting description of a big country house in the whole of Trollope's work'. Whereas in Lady Anna, the plot moved on the increasingly desperate attempts to unite a title with money and property through an arranged marriage, here Trollope turns the idea on its head. It deals instead with Sir Harry Hotspur's attempts to prevent such a situation occurring. After the death of his only son and heir, Sir Harry finds that under the laws of primogeniture his title will go to a distant relative, George Hotspur, a charming and utterly worthless young man who survives on the income of his mistress - an actress - whilst gambling and drinking his days away. Sir Harry plans to leave his fortune and ancestral home to his daughter Emily, with the expressed hope that any suitable husband might be persuaded to adopt the family name. Despite the strong misgivings of her father, Emily - as strong-willed as Sir Harry - is wooed by the feckless George, who understands the opportunity for both title and fortune: to him she is merely a pawn. Although Emily recognises his shortcomings, she unwittingly falls in love with her suitor, considering herself the only woman capable of 'saving' him. The novel plots her slow disillusionment, but too late to spare her feelings. As with any Trollopian debate of this kind, the real question asked is whether a title, name or fortune is ultimately worth any sacrifice. Trollope wrote that, with this particular novel, he had in mind 'the telling of some pathetic incident in life', and Sir Harry Hotspur is a tragedy told in miniature. The depiction of Emily Hotspur is one of his most affectingly-drawn characters, yet it is typical of Trollope's detachment and lack of sentiment that he retains a small, sharp dagger to provide a savage twist in the book's closing pages
Publication Price: £24.50/$49.00
Introduction by John Mortimer. Illustrations by John Millais
For Trollope, a book's success ultimately depended upon 'perfect delineation of character' rather than plot. Yet he thought that the plot for Orley Farm 'was probably the best I had ever made' -- a judgement with which his public agreed. Nonetheless, his own opinion diverged from theirs in one significant respect: he thought that in depicting his chief character Lady Mason, he had failed, but, as so often, his own assessment of his work was faulty. In fact, Orley Farm is technically an astonishing achievement. Quite soon after his tale starts, we learn that twenty years earlier Lady Mason had been accused -- and acquitted -- of forging her husband's will. A display of unwise high-handedness by her spoiled son Lucius angers a tenant of the Orley Farm estate unnecessarily, and triggers off a fresh investigation. Gradually, the reader is brought to suspect that Lady Mason might, after all, have been guilty: that she might just possibly have forged the codicil which bequeathed Orley Farm to her son: and she may be in growing danger of being put on trial again not just for forgery but for perjury as well. At this point, before half his tale has run, Trollope displays great narrative skill, and supreme confidence, by revealing the truth. From this point we are dealing not with a 'whodunnit?' story, but with a 'Will-she-get-away-with-it?' - and the answer to that question is in doubt till the end. Uninterested in the melodramatic possibilities of the plot, Trollope concentrates instead on the harrowing effects of long-concealed guilt on a weak but not worthless character, who committed a great crime for simple love of her son, and in the end could not escape her punishment. Orley Farm teems with other life and lives of all kinds: the tragic portrait of Sir Peregrine Orme - too sheltered a gentleman to believe in the unworthy motives of the woman he befriended, and the marvellously evocative picture of a real Victorian Christmas at Noningsby, the home of Judge Staveley, are chief among the incidental delights in this fine novel. Trollope also considered that publication was helped by the inclusion of numerous illustrations by Sir John Millais. The author suggested his childhood home -- Julians in Harrow -- as a model for his fictional farm, and was enchanted by the results. 'I know no book graced with more exquisite pictures'.
Introduction by Gilbert Phelps
Of Trollope's later -- mainly shorter -- novels, none was more experimental than Cousin Henry, yet its appearance was met with enthusiastic reviews: '[It] is not a novel exactly, but rather a study, and a very able one'. Indefer Jones, a wealthy landowner in Wales, wishes his estate to go to a relative with the same surname: but the one relative he favours to inherit, and who lives with him, is a niece named Isabel Broderick. Ironically detesting the only living relative with the 'correct' surname - Henry Jones, a clerk living in London - Indefer vacillates over which one he should bequeath the estate, naming each in a successive series of wills. When he dies, he has finally made up his mind, at the last moment leaving the bulk of the estate to Isabel. But the will has gone missing, and only Henry - by chance - has discovered its whereabouts; he knows that publication of the document will deprive him of the estate, and the prose becomes intensely introspective as Trollope lays out Henry's every agonized thought. Vacuous, pathetic and shallow though he is, the cousin cannot bring himself to destroy the will, hidden in a book of sermons in the library, yet will not reveal its existence. Trollope reverses the hoary old idea of a missing will by cleverly subverting the traditional roles that should be played by the cousins. Henry is unable to do a really evil act, while Isabel is here made rather unlikeable and is refused the safety - traditionally central to the heroine in Victorian melodrama - of the moral high ground. Whilst unquestionably blameless, what Jack Hall calls Isabel's 'professional martyrdom' makes it impossible not to feel pity for Henry, and Trollope confesses: 'We are too apt to forget when we think of the sins and faults of men how keen may be their conscience in spite of their sins'. There are touches of sardonic humour: Henry's horror at cross-examination in court by John Cheekey, reputedly one of Great Britain's cruellest barristers, nicknamed 'Supercilious Jack'; or Isabel's hypocritical decision to hide in her room whilst the hunt for the will continues, rather than admit her keen interest. Trollope debates in meticulous and tiny detail the effect of a legacy upon ordinary people who inhabit that grey area between impossibly moral rectitude and real life. The modern tone of the book is total, written by a master at ease -- yet still experimenting -- with his craft.
Introduction by Paul Johnson
Without love or without marriage as a subject of study, there would be few novels. In Trollope, one should also add, without bigamy; which he used in at least seven novels, as a mainspring for his plot. Lady Anna is an excellent feat of story telling: yet it shocked Victorian society. It was not the callous behaviour of the unpleasant Earl Lovel which shocked: but the dangerous anarchy implied in his daughter's determination to marry beneath her - to marry a working tailor, who was, in addition, a free speaking Radical. The plot is straightforward enough. Josephine Murray married a debauched and wealthy Earl out of ambition. Out of malice, he disowned her, claiming he had made a previous marriage. Lady Lovel - if Lady she could correctly be called - abandoned, friendless, with a daughter to bring up - was for many years helped and sheltered by a local tailor, as a matter of common humanity. When the Earl dies, leaving his estate to yet another supposed wife from Italy, Lady Lovel successfully challenges the will. But the case is complicated by unprovable reports of yet another marriage. While the legal processes grind slowly on, her daughter, Lady Anna, has fallen in love with the tailor's son. The legal experts, who have an heir to the earldom in a distant cousin (who is perfectly agreeable) suggest that a convenient solution to the tangles of the estate would be for Lady Anna to marry the new young Earl. But she will have none of it. She has given her word, and will not be moved - not even by the increasingly desperate machinations of her obsessive mother, which lead her to the brink of madness. This interesting novel, written on board ship in the two months it took The Great Britain to travel from Liverpool to Sydney, is another shrewd study of the nature of the power of obsession.
Is He Popenjoy?
Introduction by David Skilton
The dissolute, childless Marquis of Brotherton has long lived abroad in Italy. Ensconced at his estate in England, Manor Cross, is his family, including his younger brother Lord George Germain. The local Dean Mr Lovelace has a beautiful daughter Mary, to whom Lord George proposes, both families being eager for the match. After the marriage, the present Marquis sends news that he has himself mysteriously married and produced an heir, a 'Popenjoy', and is to return to Manor Cross. Doubts over Popenjoy's legitimacy force the Dean and Lord George to establish the true facts. This brilliant work manages to be witty and passionate yet particularly - in its depiction of the syphilitic Marquis - also dark and bitter. For those who have tended to overlook this novel, its discovery should come as a revelation.
Publication Price: £38.50/$77.00
Introduction by J Hillis Miller
Marion Fay is about class, rank and the social divisions caused by the meetings of two different, separate worlds. Lord Hampstead, son and heir to the Marquis of Kingsbury, is a rather earnest young Radical, and somewhat ashamed of his title. His closest friend is his contemporary George Roden, who is - in some ways reminiscent of Trollope's early career - a clerk in the General Post Office in St Martin-le-Grand. Lord Hampstead's choice of such a friend infuriates his stepmother, Clara, the snobbish second wife of the Marquess. However, even Lord Hampstead's liberality is shaken when his own sister, Lady Frances Trafford, falls in love with George. The pair regard themselves as engaged, to the grave disapproval of her family. Lord Hampstead, however, also incurs his family's wrath. Upon visiting Mrs Roden in her tiny house in 'Paradise Row', he meets and falls in love with a young Quaker girl called Marion Fay, and determines to marry her. Although Marion loves him in return she knows that they cannot marry, since she is consumptive and doomed to die young; indeed she dies before the end of the novel, her decision unchanged, leaving Lord Hampstead desolate, and himself resolved never to marry. George Roden's romance with Lady Frances, however, fares much better when his mother reveals that his father was an Italian duke of ancient lineage. Suddenly all obstacles magically melt away, and Lady Frances' family fall over one another to give their approval to the union. These two main plots are rather less interesting than that concerning Lord Hampstead's stepmother, the second Marchioness of Kingsbury, and her intriguing with the Reverend Thomas Greenwood. Trollope describes her thus: 'She could be very eloquent with silence, and strike an adversary dumb by the way in which she would leave a room'. The Marchioness is a woman eaten up by her ambition for her own three small sons, whom she would prefer to inherit, and by her hatred for her stepson, the actual heir. She is aided by the Reverend Thomas Greenwood, domestic chaplain and private secretary to the Marquis. The pair attempt to deepen the gulf between the Marquis and his son, at one point even hoping for Lord Hampstead's death. Greenwood is one of Trollope's few really wicked clergymen; his characterisation is one of the novel's subtler pleasures. In creating the two pairs of lovers, one doomed, the other ultimately successful, Trollope seemed to be endorsing the notion of class compatibility. Yet with the Marchioness, and Reverend Greenwood, he appears to contradict that: his message seems to be that rank, or aspiration to rank, can make you mad.
Publication Price: £35.00/$70.00
He Knew He Was Right
Introduction by Robertson Davies. Illustrations by Marcus Stone
James Pope Hennessy thought He Knew He Was Right 'one of Trollope's best but least-known novels'. It is also quite different in content from any of his other works. A sustained and effortless narrative tells of Louis Trevelyan, a wealthy young landowner who, visiting the Mandarin Islands, falls in love with the Governor's daughter Emily Rowley. After marrying, the couple return to England with Emily's sister Nora as a companion. Prone to jealousy, Louis forbids his wife from entertaining Col. Frederic Osborne, an old friend of her father, who has something of a reputation in London for flirting with other men's wives. Emily stubbornly refuses to obey on a matter of principle: that Louis is slandering her character by making such an order, and he becomes groundlessly but uncontrollably jealous, beginning to distrust everything his wife does. In despair at his constant irrational suspicion, and mindful of the health of their small son, Emily finally leaves Louis, which action precipitates his rapid mental decline. He kidnaps their son and flees to Italy where he has a complete breakdown. Emily is forced to act. Such is the main thrust of a genuinely tragic story - but it is in narrative and characterisation that Trollope rises to rare heights. Louis Trevelyan's transformation from dutiful husband to raving madman is subtly achieved over sixty chapters, yet a comparison of his portrayal in the opening chapters with that of the last would make one wonder if they truly are the same character, such is the deftness of the author's touch. In Emily we see a stubborn Trollopian heroine, resisting her husband's ever wilder charges whilst unflinchingly attempting to hold their marriage together. Unusually for Trollope, He Knew He Was Right supports not one but two substantial sub-plots -- the romance of Emily's sister Nora with an old classmate of Louis' called Hugh Stanbury; and the marvellously-drawn portrait of Hugh's aunt, Jemima Stanbury, a wealthy spinster who is equally appalled at her nephew's choice of a newspaper career and her niece's choice of suitor.
Publication Price: available as a complete set
The Vicar of Bulhampton
Introduction by John Halperin
Mary Lowther, the pretty young houseguest of the vicar of Bullhampton - Frank Fenwick - and his wife, turns down local squire Harry Gilmore's proposal of marriage. She knows that, in the eyes of all her friends and relations, a young middle-class girl such as herself, with no financial security, has a 'duty' to marry as well as she can. Marriage to Harry Gilmore represents just such a fulfilment of that duty, except that she does not love him. Despite every attempt to discount this feeling, she cannot bring herself to accept him. Once back at home in Loring with her spinster aunt, Miss Marrable, she meets her cousin Walter, an army Captain home on leave from India and soon realises that she has fallen in love with him. Mary's relatives disapprove of the liaison. Captain Marrable's father is a worthless rake who has illegally spent his son's inheritance, leaving him penniless. Gradually the opprobrium of the family drives the couple apart, and Walter departs to a distant relative's estate to lick his wounds until he can return to his military life. Harry Gilmore, sensing that he may have another chance, renews his suit in earnest, and eventually persuades an indifferent Mary to accept his hand, despite her withering assertion that, were her cousin to ask for her hand again, she would drop the besotted Harry without a moment's thought. Harry more interested in winning the prize than the prize herself agrees to these humiliating terms. But fate has a surprise in store. Carry Brattle, the daughter of the local miller, is the other focus of the novel. She is a woman who - compared with Mary Lowther - has even fewer choices open to her. Carry is a prostitute; that is to say, what Trollope makes clear to us is that she has had sex with a man out of wedlock, is still unwed and is therefore regarded as a harlot. She is cast from the family home by her proud father, Jacob, yet Trollope's depiction of the pathetic girl is never less than sympathetic. The Vicar repeatedly tries to help her, particularly when she becomes involved as a valuable witness in a murder case, but inexorably, Carry is drawn towards the unforgiving gaze of the public eye. Will the miller stand by his daughter, or let convention, pride and shame get in the way of his true feelings for her? A comic subplot involves the pompous Marquis of Trowbridge. He decides to punish what he perceives as Mr Fenwick's insolence towards him by building a Methodist Chapel a few hundred yards from his front gate. Mr Fenwick, who usually relishes a good quarrel, fails to prevent the chapel's construction, which threatens in turn the harmony of the sleepy town of Bullhampton. But a relative of Mrs Fenwick - Mr Quickenham QC - discovers that the Marquis has inadvertently built the chapel on glebe land...
Publication Price: £37.00/$74.00
Kept in the Dark
Introduction by Derek Parker. Frontispiece by John Everett Millais
To Twentieth Century eyes, Kept in the Dark can sometimes seem a very black comedy of manners. George Western meets, and proposes to, Cecilia Holt in Rome, and is quickly accepted. But she conceals from him the fact that she has recently been engaged to the rakish baronet Sir Francis Geraldine, only jilting him when she discovered his true nature. Cecilia keeps these facts in the dark fearing that, since George has himself been recently jilted, her story will only cause him to make unnecessary comparisons. But her sin of omission -- so innocent and well-intentioned at the outset -- grows daily larger once she is married, until she finds it almost impossible to confess. Sir Francis, intent on exacting some form of revenge upon Cecilia, writes an odious letter to her husband which reveals everything, and implies worse. George, having idealised his wife as his own unblemished possession, tortures himself with suspicion and jealousy, and leaves her to live abroad. Cecilia -- who is by now pregnant -- proudly spurns any financial settlement from him, and returns to Exeter to live with her mother. Neither George nor Cecilia will bend; he considers her tarnished and deceitful, she thinks him cruel and unyielding. Trollope subtly depicts two perfect prigs: George, is curiously unworldly and Cecilia, for all her linguistic skills and literary tastes, is remarkably ignorant. But Trollope surrounds the Westerns with characters who are much funnier, more human, and therefore more lifelike than his two protagonists. Chief amongst these are the dastardly Sir Francis, incapable of letting the slightest affront to his pride go unrevenged; Dick Ross, Sir Francis' penniless sidekick, who nonetheless speaks his mind over his patron's wanton cruelty; Lady Grant, George's wise sister, the only character capable of grasping the truth amidst the supposition and innuendo; and Francesca Altofiore, the novel's one notable achievement. Descended -- as she frequently reminds us -- from 'the Fiascos and Disgracias of Rome', thirty-five years old, a champion of a woman's right to remain single (due to her own circumstances rather than any deeply-held conviction), the selfish Francesca causes as much mischief as she can for Cecilia. Her vulgar attempts to ensnare Sir Francis for herself are beautifully written vignettes of coquetry. Trollope, in the twilight of his career and having recently moved to North End, near Petersfield, here succeeded in writing a dark and slyly comic counterpoint to his other novel about morbid jealousy, He Knew He Was Right. He also achieved a quiet insight into the infinite jealousies of which human minds are capable when they are set -- or set themselves -- adrift.
Publication Price: £22.50/$45.00
Mr Scarborough's Family
Introduction by Richard Mullen
Mr Scarborough wealthy owner of Tretton Park in Staffordshire, is dying. His eldest son and heir Mountjoy has gambled away his inheritance to avaricious money-lenders who hold post-obits to the entire value of the estate. As the story opens, Mr Scarborough astonishes society by declaring Mountjoy illegitimate. He claims that he only married his wife shortly before the birth of his second (remarkably unattractive) son Augustus, thus making him the real heir. Mountjoy's creditors threaten vain law suits against the estate; and the odious Augustus assumes his place as heir. Meanwhile, Harry Annesley, the son of a Hertfordshire clergyman, is the heir to his foolish uncle Peter Prosper. He is also in love with Mr Scarborough's niece Florence Mountjoy. Florence's mother had always intended her daughter should marry Mountjoy Scarbororough. But Florence has never loved him, and tells him of her affection for Harry. A drunken brawl between the disinherited Mountjoy and Harry in a London street leaves Mountjoy sprawled on the pavement; and next day he disappears. Harry fails to help the police with their inquiries: a situation Augustus exploits, making it known that Harry has lied, and was the last person to see Mountjoy before he vanished. Word of this reaches Mr Prosper, who promptly decides to disinherit Harry. A pace or two behind this imbroglio comes Mr Scarborough's long-suffering lawyer, Mr Grey. He is appalled by his client's complete disregard for law or propriety, but out of a sense of duty goes to great lengths to prove Mr Scarborough's assertion that Augustus is the true heir. With this proof, he manages to persuade Mountjoy's creditors to relinquish their bills, thus freeing the estate from any potential law suits after his death. But Mr Scarborough, outraged by Augustus' callous impatience for his death, summons Mr Grey to see him once more. He has yet another new will to make, because Augustus is not really the heir to Tretton. Problems of old age had finally caught up with Trollope when he came to write this, his penultimate completed novel in 1882. It is suffused with preoccupations about inheritances, operations, surgeons, medicines and lawsuits. At the centre of this hugely entertaining and strangely negelected mystery is the complex character of Mr Scarborough, a schemer, a pagan, a clever man, hating the law of entail, indifferent to public opinion, yet consumed with a desire to do the right thing for his family. Lear-like, he searches for some true sign of love from his sons. There is an elegiac tone to much of Trollope's prose here, wrapped around a constantly surprising plot, a sourness of outlook, and an old man's distaste for the ever-increasing pace and avarice of 1880s Victorian England.
Publication Price: £37.00/$74.00
Ralph the Heir
Introduction by John Letts
Trollope displayed his usual obtuseness with regard to his own work when he commented on Ralph the Heir. He declared: 'I have always thought it to be one of the worst novels I have written'. He is quite wrong, of course, and the public, as always, disagreed with him. Ignoring the author's disenchantment with the book, Ralph the Heir is in fact a very moving and rather touching love story, the twist here being that it is a depiction of a love story between father and son. Newton Priory, in Hampshire, is occupied by Squire Gregory Newton, yet entailed to his nephew Ralph, because the Squire's own son (confusingly also called Ralph) is illegitimate. Successive attempts are made to allow the illegitimate Ralph to inherit the estate, and rivalry grows between the two cousins for the hand of a beautiful woman. Ralph, the nephew, is feckless and weak where his cousin is steadier and more honest; his weakness leads him into grave debt, and in an effort to solve his mounting financial problem, he unwisely and ultimately unsuccessfully seeks the hand of Polly Neefit, the daughter of one of his creditors. In ever-desperate attempts to settle his debts, Ralph the heir tries to negotiate the sale of the entail on the Newton Priory estate back to Squire Gregory, but the squire is killed in a riding accident before the transaction can be completed. The illegitimate Ralph can no longer hope to inherit the title, but has the consolation of the beautiful Mary Bonner, as his bride. So far, so Trollopian. The true depth and power of the book is, unusually, revealed within the subplots of the book: the love between the illegitimate Ralph and his father, surely an autobiographical nod by the author in the direction of his own feelings towards his son; and particularly the story involving the gloomy, pessimistic Sir Thomas Underwood, Mary Bonner's guardian, who contests the election at Percycross. Trollope finally got his own failure at the Beverley by-election completely off his chest, acknowledging that 'Percycross and Beverley were, of course, one and the same place'. Trollope (who should probably never have contested the Beverley by-election in the first place), shows us that Sir Thomas rapidly becomes disenchanted with political life, finding that it has little to do with helping his constituents. The author had not quite got Beverley out of his system, however. He returned to electioneering in The Duke's Children in the 'Palliser Series'. There he called it 'squalid' and revolting', but conceded 'To go through it and then not to become a member is base indeed!'
Publication Price: £34.00/$68.00
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