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The Trollope Project - Archives > Can You Forgive Her? Chapters 15-20: Oct 1-7

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message 1: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1806 comments Mod
Our story progresses, with a section which develops characters and situations.

In Ch 15, we have John visit Alice, in an attempt to woo her back. As she continues to refuse him, he asks permission to continue to present himself as a suitor, but waives all right to be treated as her fiancé any longer-he will not "trouble (her) with letters" nor will he visit or intrude upon her before the new year.

What do you think of him now? Do you think his approach to win her back will work?

Ch 16-17 show us George Vavasor in one of his other settings-that of joining the hunt in the countryside. While I found the chapters somewhat tedious, they seemed to be there to establish him as a "man's man"-proficient at cards, riding, hunting, and maintaining a social presence on little income.

Has your opinion of George changed?

Ch 18 introduces us to the Lady Glencora Palliser and by proxy her husband Plantagenet Palliser. We learn a little of her background and of her relationship with her husband. The Lady Glencora and Alice, while ostensibly cousins and seemingly close friends, clearly hail from the opposite ends of the social spectrum. What are the possibilities raised for Alice by going into such grand society? What are the potential pitfalls?

Ch.s 19 and 20 give us more of the Kate Vavasor/Mrs Greenow and her suitors thread. What do you think are Mrs Greenow's intentions? She has clearly decided to shorten her time of mourning, however appears to have no interest in either of her current suitors. I (and so apparently is Madge from an earlier post) am hoping she is planning to play the merry widow and not settle down with anyone too soon.

Share your thoughts on this section and the developing threads.

message 2: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick I too began the section with the fox hunt with some dismay. So much jargon and such a remote set of traditions.

Once I stopped trying to work out every word, I got into the rhythm of the story telling. It is a very exciting section. Consider that women, yes Victorian women , for all the social limits on the well to do woman; were very much part of the hunt. Men and women rode to the hounds and shot grouse on something close to an equal bases.

It is clear that we are supposed to judge people by how well they ride, how well they know the limits of their horses and so forth. We modern readers or old have to be critical of the rider who rode his horse to its death by his failure to understand his or its limits. We all understand that there is an integrity in choosing to queue at the gates rather than leap them. The decision may mark you as a lessor rider, but also as one not looking to harm your animal.

George comes off as very canny rider. He is separate from the hunters not just because he believes he knows things about the fox that others do not, but because he is a good rider and more than anything wants attention drawn to his horse. He is not present for sport but for business. He is clearly being somewhat cold and calculating, but I find little fault in this. He needs money and uses the hunt to make some.

As for Mrs Greenow.
Why do I look at her two suitors and think Abbot and Costello? Or maybe Laurel and Hardy are a better comparison?

As for the lady herself. She is not just a merry widow. She was married to a rich elderly husband. How much it was or became a love match is hard to measure. Very small numbers can be as hard to measure as large ones to count. She did what she had to do and survived him. Under the rules of the day collected her winnings… I mean his estate. Also, under the rules of the day she gets some degree of freedom as a widow and more for being a rich one.

I do not mean to sound this critical. She and her love life are intended for laughs. She is a tad too funny to take seriously but her two men are wonderful bumblers to watch. It remains to be seen who is playing who; in what looks to become a lovely satire on Victorian mating practices. For now she plays at being a widow in a high camp style.

Is this too obvious? Lady Greenow, is now in the green.
Green as in tall grass as I do not think British money was ever tied directly to the color green.

Lady Glencora/Plenty Pall/Burgo Fitzgerald
Burgo what can we make of That name? Can a woman truly sigh for her Burgo?
Are we positive about which lady needs forgiveness and for what?

message 3: by Hilary (new)

Hilary (agapoyesoun) | 181 comments Oh dear, I hate the fox hunt!!

message 4: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 03, 2017 08:01PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Me too Hilary. Alas, Trollope loved fox hunting and kept horses for hunting most of his adult life:(:(

message 5: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 03, 2017 08:03PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Phodrick: Green is the colour of Spring and of renewal so is perhaps appropriate for Widow Greenow starting a new life.

All the ladies need forgiveness for various things. I think Trollope is referencing The Woman Question and the many arguments which surrounded the behaviour of women in this era.

message 6: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments Unfortunately, I also found the foxhunt a bit tedious. I know Trollope used it as a device to comment upon social hierarchy and interactions, but it didn’t draw me in enough to truly accomplish its objective. However, it was easily apparent that George’s character was reinforced in this section. A private man, a man apart from other men except to do with business. He did accomplish his objective in the hunt which was to sell his brown horse. I thought it was telling that the narrator comments that although George did better in the company of women, he could never treat a woman well. Foreshadowing more unhappiness for Alice?

This is my first time reading the Palliser series so I don’t know what is to come, but I do know at least that Lady Glencora is a major character. Trollope does an excellent job of immediately endearing her to the reader through her friendship with Alice (assuming that the reader empathizes with Alice). The fact that Glencora’s romantic situation echoes that of Alice, as Alice herself notes, increases our positive opinion. Although Glencora belongs to the aristocratic and very proper side of Alice’s family, she does not condemn Alice for breaking off with John Grey as does Lady Midlothian, Lady Macleod and others. When Alice first refuses Glencora’s invitation because she doesn’t want to deal with these other relatives, Glencora compassionately assures her they will not be present - two more checks for Glencora! Trollope does present Glencora as less rebellious, more understanding of her proper duty than Alice as Glencora agrees to marry Plantagenet, declaring her intention to be a devoted wife while saying nothing of love.

Widow Greenow and her two suitors are a comedy of errors. I can’t make up my mind about her intentions. She has definitively refused their proposals, yet it doesn’t seem as if this will end their ambivalent relationships. Does she just like the attention or is she actually interested in remarrying?

message 7: by Phrodrick (last edited Oct 04, 2017 03:52PM) (new)

Phrodrick I get the impression that Trollope is almost systematically rotating through variations on the theme of marriage.
By order of the family
for love
for money
for fun

We have the super rich prize, male and female division
The impecunious groom and bride, come to think of it
and so forth and mayhaps more variations to come.
impecunious is such a wonderful Victorian/Edwardian term

The Widow who is Now Green, her hog farmer and debt trick or treater are are just funny.
I am going to pout if anyone expect me to take them as other than comic relief.

Extra Credit, Anyone ever been down wind of a Hog Farm? I mean voluntarily?

message 8: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 04, 2017 05:07PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Linda: I too find it difficult to appreciate the foxhunting scenes and liken it to the antipathy I feel towards racism and sexism in Victorian novels. I just grin and bear it and feel thankful I did not live in those times.

I think Glencora and Alice represent the younger generation and reflect the changing attitudes of the times. One of the changing attitudes was towards marrying for love and the reading and writing of romantic novels helped to bring about the idea that love and compatibility were a sounder base for marriage and happiness than money and background. Lady Glencora is an aristocrat so is more conscious than upper middle class Alice of the necessity of marrying within her station. Religion too kept everyone in their god ordained place and attitudes towards this were changing too.

I think Widow Greenow is just playing the field during the period after her husband's death when society expects her to be very circumspect for several years. Queen Victoria led the way for widows by not remarrying at all but like Widow Greenow she could afford to do so. Most women needed a man to support them if they were to have any sort of life:(

message 9: by Phrodrick (last edited Oct 04, 2017 07:53PM) (new)

Phrodrick I get that we hate fox hunting per se . Trollope didnot
This is very exciting writing. It is hard to write action, and we are used to seeing action played out for us, not having to imagine it from the written word.

My suggestion is that you read for the movement in the words the way that danger and action are realized by the skill in the language. Trollope does not make us see this from the fox's POV,The narrative almost makes the fox unimportant. We see it from the POV of the riders. Technically this is hard to do and Trollope does it with room to spare.

Just to finish this book we have something like 400 +pages of people standing around , balancing tea cups and pretty much doing noting, but talking. One chance for movement and some readers are ?? I hate to give my opinion clearly

For the last time , Lady Greennow is nobody's anything. She is clearly making herown rules . And with ever decreasing give a hoot about public or societys opinion. Like her, I respectfully request you enjoy the antics around her. Unlike most any other character so far, she has zero to risk and controls her own run. She is out to play and enjoy. She is your chill out time to relax and read the fun.

message 10: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Oct 04, 2017 09:27PM) (new)

Robin P | 2072 comments Mod
Phrodrick wrote: "I get that we hate fox hunting per se . Trollope didnot
This is very exciting writing. It is hard to write action, and we are used to seeing action played out for us, not having to imagine it from ..."

I also found the fox hunt boring - I think that was mainly because we didn't really know the characters involved, even George. I do understand what you mean about action but that is the problem for me. This discussion reminds me of my reaction to movies. Whenever there is a fight or a chase scene, I think "boring, let me know when it is over" - but when it is a drama, I'll get all excited by small things- "he touched her hand!" (especially in historical dramas). And in a book I am always happy to see pages of conversation as opposed to pages of description (even though once I start reading the description, I may find it very good.)

A common opinion is that "nothing happens" in classics like Jane Austen. But I had that reaction to a very different book, All the Pretty Horses. I got halfway through and I thought "nothing is happening". Then I realized things were happening. Men were riding horses, getting off horses, fighting, etc. What I meant by "nothing is happening" was that there were no emotions described and barely any dialogue. Sometimes you might be able to guess by how the hero got off his horse what he might be feeling. This is a stereotype, but it seems to me it is a "masculine" style, a la Hemingway, as opposed to a "feminine" style, such as Austen, where there is practically no physical action but people's interior states are described in detail. Trollope usually has more of the emotional/societal side, so the fox hunt is unusual.

message 11: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Trollope's conversation is brilliant! I usually do not like novels with a lot of dialogue and prefer the long descriptive pieces of authors like Hardy. When I was listening to the audible version of CYFH the conversatons were totally realistic, perhaps because Trollope frequently spoke them aloud before committing them to paper.

message 12: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 747 comments I love knowing that about Trollope! What a great idea!

message 13: by Madge UK (last edited Oct 05, 2017 03:41AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments I have just listened on Audible to an argument between Mr Wharton and Ferdinand Lopez in The Prime Minister, read by the actor Timothy West and it was very exciting. I followed it on my Kindle edition and found it was narrated word for word which shows how realistically Trollope captured conversation. I wonder if he did the different voices and accents as he read aloud to himself or to friends. Reading aloud to friends was a popular Victorian pastime. Dickens of course made a business of it on the stage but many of the great Victorian authors read drafts of their books to friends. Thackeray and Tennyson were sought after dinner guests. Jane Austen had done the same in Regency times.

Timothy West also captures the Scottish accents of Lady Midlothian and Mrs McLeod beautifully and now when I read CYFH I hear his rendition:)

message 14: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments Madge UK wrote: "Linda: I too find it difficult to appreciate the foxhunting scenes and liken it to the antipathy I feel towards racism and sexism in Victorian novels. I just grin and bear it and feel thankful I di..."

Madge- excellent observation about Glencora and Alice representing the younger generation. I'm looking forward to seeing how (and if) their friendship develops.

message 15: by LindaH (new)

LindaH | 97 comments I was relieved the fox hunt didn’t show the fox being killed, but I agree with the comment that the writing was good. It really captured the rhythm of the hunt. It was interesting because we know going in that George wants to sell his horse, and there are almost two speeds going on simultaneously...the rhythm of the hunt and the rhythm of George.

Lady Glendora is a breath of fresh air after Kate. Perhaps she will be a good influence on Alice. The party might introduce some other persons into the plot, persons who will help Alice decide what she wants or doesn’t want. I look forward to it. Parties are another kind of action.

I think John was smart to give Alice some space. His interaction with her shows how sensitive he is under his controlled respectable behavior.

Mrs Greenow is way ahead of her suitors. It will be fun to see her with new challenges.

message 16: by Karen (new)

Karen (karinlib) | 16 comments I haven't finished this section yet (I was on vacation, and I don't have time to read), and I am really struggling through chapter 17.

message 17: by Frances, Moderator (new)

Frances (francesab) | 1806 comments Mod
Madge-I think you may be out of sync with the read-ch 17 is concerned with the fox hunt and I don't think we've come to the other sections you've mentioned yet.

message 18: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Oops sorry, deleted!

message 19: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2787 comments Mod
I have just finished the fox-hunting chapter and it was too long. What most upset me was the cavalier attitude to the death of Burgo's horse, and the death of the fox at the end.
I like descriptions of emotions, thoughts and dialogue more than horses running around the countryside, but I also recognize that the hunt does depict the attitudes of the society of the time.

message 20: by Christopher (last edited Oct 09, 2017 12:08PM) (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments Sorry to wheely-copter in on the discussion, but I'm pretty sure there is a fox hunt in EVERY Trollope novel from this point on.

eta: Love me, love my fox hunt.

message 21: by Renee (new)

Renee M | 747 comments Lol. Yes. So much fox hunting! There wasn't much in the Barsetshire books, but the Pallisers have foxes running all over the place.

For which I have come to forgive him. I look at his fox hunting chapters as little treats he gave himself. I'd probably throw in a chapter on cheese cake or places I'd like to visit. :)

message 22: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick I like descriptions of emotions, thoughts and dialogue more than horses running around the countryside, but I also recognize that the hunt does depict the attitudes of the society of the time.

As long as we are offering advice.
You may want to re focus on this and future fox huts, They absolutely include, " descriptions of emotions, thoughts and dialogue". They not only to they represent some of the very few scenes of actual motion they are very much part of plot, character and emotional development.

Unlike TV/Movie chases, it is possible to have both interior and exterior dialogue and associated developments in a text based chase.

message 23: by Robin P, Moderator (new)

Robin P | 2072 comments Mod
Phrodrick wrote: "I like descriptions of emotions, thoughts and dialogue more than horses running around the countryside, but I also recognize that the hunt does depict the attitudes of the society of the time.


Good point, You are right that we do get to know some things about the characters from the hunt. George seems coldly calculating even during the hunt, in order to draw the most profit from it. That did change my view of how he sees Alice as well, another way to profit. He does like her and enjoys being with her, but would he put her (or anyone) ahead of his own interests?

message 24: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2787 comments Mod
I like the way Mrs. Greenow has suddenly been in mourning for nine months instead of six, and especially the comments of her maid Jeannette to Kate:

It happened in May, Miss....and that, as we reckons, it will be just a twelvemonth come Christmas.

Mrs. Greenow also lets a tear trickle down her cheek, and reveals that she needs no improvement to her complection.
I like her because she is enjoying life, even with her little foibles.

Re hog farms. I had a great aunt and uncle who had a pig farm, so I know how fragrant they are!

message 25: by Nicola (last edited Nov 04, 2017 07:38AM) (new)

Nicola | 311 comments Frances wrote: "Our story progresses, with a section which develops characters and situations.

In Ch 15, we have John visit Alice, in an attempt to woo her back. As she continues to refuse him, he asks permission..."

* I think that Mr Grey did the right thing - his actions struck a careful balance between showing that he loved her very much and wasn't going to give up hope and also that he respected her wishes and wouldn't try to force himself on her. He's giving her space which is the best thing he can do right now.

* As for George, well, I don't think my opinion of him was changed after the hunt scenes, other than the thought that he is rather stupider than I had previously supposed. I get that he's a bit of a bad tempered and cross grained fellow but he's rude for no good purpose to people that he shouldn't be and considering his precarious finances that's really quite idiotic.

He clearly makes a bit of money out of selling his horses and at play and, also, if he's going to be an MP then it does no good to alienate anybody for no good reason. I get that he's an independent person and doesn't want to kiss anybody’s arse but there's no need to almost go out of his way to be insulting.

I didn't mind the hunt section, in fact I rather enjoyed it. I also took note of the last line which I thought might have a deeper meaning than that just relating to the horse: So the brown horse was sold for about half his value, because he had brought with him a bad character.

Possibly another warning about the need to preserve a respectable character in the world of men as well as that of horses and that if you don't then it can become difficult to make your way?

* I don't think that Kate is in any danger by going to visit her cousin. Not from the usual society pitfalls anyway as she seems totally disinterested in such things.

* Mrs Greenow and Kate - well... Rather a pair of hypocrites. I had a thought about Mrs Greenow and her encouragement of the Captain. I couldn't work out why a woman of such obvious good sense in worldly matters was doing it but then I remembered that she had warned Kate away from him at the start and thought that possibly she might be doing it to distract him from going near her while having no serious intentions herself. Which, if so, makes her really a very careful guardian.

Otherwise, she's a flirt. She wasn't valued by her family before her marriage, she married an old man with a lot of money, now he's dead and she's all out to enjoy herself. Perhaps she's one woman that Trollope won't feel the need to stuff into marriage, following his obvious belief that every woman has to be wedded to be properly fulfilled. Maybe she'll get a free pass because she's been married already even though it clearly wasn't a love match.

I like her as a character, she's fun. I'll like her even more if she continues to be the merry widow and escapes the 'Oh my goodness I must have a man!' destiny and keeps her attitude of 'I love my life, I have money and I intend to thoroughly enjoy myself, I don't need a husband, I've already had one and he's nicely fulfilled his purpose by dying and leaving me all of his wealth'.

At least it makes a change from every single other woman that he's written about :-)

message 26: by Madge UK (last edited Nov 04, 2017 08:49AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments ...his obvious belief that every woman has to be wedded to be properly fulfilled.

This was the belief of the age and as genteel women couldn't pursue a career it was a sensible one. The one profession some of them followed, that of being a governess, was full of pitfalls as was being a perpetual spinster. Wealthy widows, like Greenow, had more freedom and Trollope is acknowledging this. Generally widows were dependent upon their male relatives, as in Nicholas Nickelby.

We should not judge the lives of Victorian women by our own, nor judge those who write about them by modern standards. What you are interpreting as Trollope's prejudices were those of the age. Women being able to pursue careers has only happened in my lifetime. Even when I was young women couldn't get a mortgage without a male guarantor and had utmost difficulty in renting a home alone if they had children. Single mothers gave their babies to foundling homes (as in Oliver Twist) because they couldn't maintain them. There was still such a home in my neighbourhood when I was growing up in the 1940s.

It was WW1 and 2 which brought about the emancipation of women in the workplace. Prior to that lone women had a hard time of it. To be dependent on a man, as Trollope suggests, was a far better and safer option. Here are some facts about women's lives then:

message 27: by Nicola (last edited Nov 04, 2017 11:04AM) (new)

Nicola | 311 comments Madge UK wrote: "...This was the belief of the age and as genteel women couldn't pursue a career it was a sensible one. ..."

Yes, so you keep saying and for most women it no doubt was true. But it's Trollope’s constant shoving of all women into the exact same hole that really gets to me. Young and beautiful? Get Married! Young and independent? Get Married! Young and rich? Get Married! Older and wiser? Get Married! Widowed and happy? Get Married? And so on and so on ad nuaseum.

And not just married. Grovelling at your husbands feet if you want to be happy (obviously I'm not anywhere close to finishing this book yet so I'm refering to all of the other books I've read of his. However going from what has been so far dropped already in the book it looks depressingly like it's going to continue along the same old, same old lines). I am trying to see this 'irony' that you have assured me runs through his text, really really trying! So far, nope. Sorry Madge, I still think he's an old fogey who harms more than he helps with his unrealistic portrayal of womanly devotion to the men in their lives. I don't see the sarcasm, as far as I can tell he's being completely serious. We are just not going to agree on that one sorry :-) You think I'm too hard on Trollope, I think you're seeing him through rose tinted spectacles and reading what you want see in the text. I don't think we will ever agree on that point.

Of course he's a fluff writer and I'm now at the point where I have clicked that that really does seem to be his sole mantra. His great championship of women’s rights boils down to the fact that women need to be safely married (and slavishly devoted) to be happy. All women. No exceptions. There is no peg so square that it isn't going to banged forcefully down into Trollope’s round marriage hole! (pardon for any unpleasant imagery here!) One shape fits absolutely everybody! (Excepting of course all those unsatisfied and unfilled women who don't get married and subsequently live miserable wasted lives).

I want more originality. I'm not going to get it. I'll accept it the same way I accept rubbish heroines from Dickens ie grit me 'ol teeth and occasionally writhe in disgust. Keeping expectations really really low in already identified problem areas should help.

As for this: We should not judge the lives of Victorian women by our own, nor judge those who write about them by modern standards.

Well obviously! However even taking that into consideration Trollope still grates on me. I have plenty of other Victorian writers to compare him to after all and he's in a class all of his own (thank gawd!) when it comes to this area.

P.S. Sorry for grumbling Madge :-) You know I don't mean any offense towards you at all. Trollope just drives me around the twist at times with the way he treats women. I would much prefer that he be an out and out sexist bigot because I think they do less damage than an influential writer who damns women by making so much of them and then making them all the same. Striping a woman of the right to be different in such an important area to me is far far worse than flat out abuse. Such smothering praise is far more insidious because it comes from a smiling face and is delivered in a gentle caressing tone...

message 28: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2787 comments Mod
I agree with Madge on this one. I find Trollope's irony delightful. I can imagine the twinkle in his eye as he writes some of his comments.

We mustn't forget his observations about the male characters in this book. Many of them would be lost without the women in their lives.

message 29: by Nicola (new)

Nicola | 311 comments Rosemarie wrote: "I agree with Madge on this one. I find Trollope's irony delightful. I can imagine the twinkle in his eye as he writes some of his comments.

We mustn't forget his observations about the male charac..."

I find his irony great too, it's his great charm. But you see, I don't think he is being ironic when he talks about how women really need to be happily married and all of the other language he uses. I think he's being 100% serious. I think you want him to be being ironic. I do as well actually. But, unlike you guys, I just can't see it.

I went back and re-read Dr. Thorne as I promised Madge I would. I re-read the whole thing constantly chanting in my head 'He's being ironic! He doesn't really mean what he's saying! He's just having a laugh!'

No good. What made it so obvious as far as I was concerned that he wasn't being ironic was the fact that it was so very obvious in all the other places where he was. In the end, after all of my efforts, (and I really tried very very hard because if I could have managed to convince myself that Trollope really was joking I would enjoy his books 100% more than I do) I had exactly the same opinion as I went in with. This is not a given btw - I'm not someone who refuses to change their mind if evidence to the contrary to discovered. I do it all the time.

But in this case, no dice; when he's going off on one of his panegyric eulogies then I'm just going to have to take him at his word as I can't see any 'nudge nudge wink wink' hidden in the text to indicate otherwise.

message 30: by Madge UK (last edited Nov 04, 2017 11:29AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Nicola: Have you read any biographies of Trollope? My spectacles come from reading several and coming to the conclusion that he was a nice man with a good sense of humour, a very good, loving and faithful husband, a good father and a good friend. I read him through this prism and try not to let my modern feminist views distort my understanding of a Victorian male.

Much has been written about his tongue in cheek irony (which Rosemarie observes) so it is sad that you cannot see it.

message 31: by Nicola (last edited Nov 04, 2017 11:37AM) (new)

Nicola | 311 comments Madge UK wrote: "Nicola: Have you read any biographies of Trollope? My spectacles come from reading several and coming to the conclusion that he was a nice man with a good sense of humour, a very good, loving and f..."

No Madge, I've told you lots of times that I haven't. I don't like reading other peoples opinions until I've made my own. I hope that your opinion is actually yours as well and you don't just believe what you do because other people have told you that that's so. I'm sure that you don't, after all you have read a lot more of his work than I have.

As for his character I don't doubt that he was exactly as you say, in fact I'm not surprised. His writing does seem to hold the beneficent fatherly tone which you find pleasant and I find patronising.

I find it sad that I can't see it as well, think how much less frustrating it would be for me. But I guess it's like religion. To one person it's revealed heavenly truth, to another it's a load of nonsense and if you don't feel it then there's no point trying to force it.

message 32: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments I find that knowing the background and character of author helps me to understand 'where they are coming from'. If an author has had a traumatised childhood like Dickens or an impoverished one like Trollope I think their writing will reflect that and my reading about it will explain some of the feelings characters will express. If they are promiscuous and cheat on their wives, like Dickens, I expect to see some of that reflected in character's lives. Those who study literature at university are expected to read biographies and autobiographies and to generally 'read around' the action of novels so as to better analyse them. I try to adopt that approach.

message 33: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick I feel gratification in reading the last several posts.

This conversation has been instructive and IMHO and at some risk; deeper than merely whose romance and whose sense of duty will be prevail.

Again at some risk it feels like the truth in some absolute sense lies between the notion of Trollope as patronizing (we could almost say paternalistic and thereby emphasize a male POV) and Trollope as a reflector of his times.

I am continuously impressed by the strength and independent nature of the women in Can We Forgive Her. That so many women may 'need' forgiving, leads me to suspect that Trollope is tweaking the reader's nose. At least three of these women, Alice, Glencora and Greenow are doing things for which forgiveness might be or become appropriate.

And all three are doing them.

Speaking for myself, Greenow is a favorite as she is playing the universe for her entertainment and is spinning her comedy team of suitors to dance her dance and entirely at her pleasure.

I do not for a moment doubt that Trollope sincerely believes that a woman is not properly placed until married. He is, again IMHO rotating almost scientifically through the variations implied by that belief and the customs of his day. Testing to see how and why some matches become happy and others do not and the rest fill the distance between.

Much of Victorian life was patronizing and overly mannered. The single most famous statement by Queen Victoria has always sounded patronizing to my ear.
"We are not amused"

It is only in my life time that I have seen women openly reject, that the proper goal of their sex is to make a family and that this goal can only be achieved once they find, or are found by the "right man".

To make any kind of definitive statement about just western or English speaking culture has taken to this break out position is to take this conversation deep into politics. .

message 34: by Madge UK (last edited Nov 04, 2017 01:49PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments If we look at Trollope's detailed descriptions of Widow Greenow's mourning attire we can accept them as just that but if we know from our wider reading that there was eventually a great deal of criticism of the lengths Victorian women went to in mourning, so that it became an 'alt' fashion. This fashion, and Greenow's attitude towards it (which was perpetuated by the Queen herself, whose over long mourning prompted dangerous outbursts of republicanism) is being satirised by Trollope, the political Liberal, in the character of the widow. He bids us laugh at her ridiculous fashion, just as his contemporaries were lampooning the Queen.

Similarly in placing emphasis on the ridiculous lengths women had to go to remain 'pure' before marriage, never to be seen alone with a man so as not to be compromised etc, we can see Trollope satirising this custom which, as a much travelled man, he could see was unrealistic and overly restrictive. His own wife had a great deal of liberty, like travelling abroad alone, which shows he did not believe in the restrictions placed on the young women in his novels. That he recommended marriage for them was perhaps not only that he was very happily married himself but because in his wide ranging life he had seen the plight of spinsters and widows. (In a later Palliser novel he highlights the plight of a governess, something else which was a problem in his day.) He wasn't being ironic about marriage because it really was the better outcome for the great majority of women in his day. Whether you like it or not it was a fact!

Also, at a time when the reading of romances was highly popular and marrying for love and not just money was fashionable, Trollope was signalling the necessity of having love and compatability, something liaisons in novels lacked. Yes, as a father and a respected literary figure, he was being fatherly but is this such a bad thing? We have all surely benefitted from fatherly advice from time to time particularly if we were lucky enough to have a worldly, widely travelled father.

message 35: by Madge UK (last edited Nov 04, 2017 01:53PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments BTW the reason Widows and Spinsters were such a problem to Victorians was that after the Napoleonic wars there were a great many of them, most without financial support, many begging on the streets or resorting to prostitution, which became another big problem.

message 36: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments Uh, yeah, there's really no comparison between Trollope's women and Dickens's.

Think of it this way. We think of Trollope as a novelist, and therefore we expect from him "the way we live now," or at least the way they lived then. A mirror walking down a road and all that.

But I think Trollope says explicitly more than once that his novels don't reflect life, they're fantasies, or romances, if you will.

I think even the most independent woman around, if she's tempted to pick up a romance, would expect the man and woman who love each other to get together in the end, and in Victorian times to be sure, there was only one way legally and morally to do that.

message 37: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Trollope was renowned for his Realism even though he wrote about romances. Nathaniel Hawthorne observed that his novels were "just as real as if some giant had hewn a great lump out of the earth and put it under a glass case, with all its inhabitants going about their daily business and not suspecting that they were being made a show of." And Henry James wrote that "His great, his inestimable merit was a complete appreciation of the usual."

message 38: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments What do folks think of Trollope's Omniscient Narrator technique? I love it. It is as if he is reading along with me.

message 39: by Christopher (new)

Christopher (Donut) | 150 comments Madge UK wrote: "Trollope was renowned for his Realism even though he wrote about romances. Nathaniel Hawthorne observed that his novels were "just as real as if some giant had hewn a great lump out of the earth an..."

Henry James's entire essay on Trollope is worth reading.
(Sorry, no link)

You know, praise like this is slightly ambiguous.

Imagine: that's what I like about you, Tony. You're so amazingly ordinary!

message 40: by Madge UK (last edited Nov 04, 2017 05:07PM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Yes, James did not like Trollope very much. He would probably agree with Nicola:)

The British Library identifies Trollope as a leading Victorian realist pointing out that he 'used omniscient third-person narration for realist purposes':

message 41: by Phrodrick (last edited Nov 04, 2017 07:22PM) (new)

Phrodrick Madge UK wrote: "BTW the reason Widows and Spinsters were such a problem to Victorians was that after the Napoleonic wars there were a great many of them, most without financial support, many begging on the streets..."

If we take the end of the Napoleonic wars as The Battle of Waterloo, June 1815. Victoria ascended the throne June of 1837 or 22 years later. Assuming the avg age of a Napoleonic War widow to have been in her early 20, by 1837 they would have been in their mid to late 40's. Given that many historians do not start the Victorian era until as late as the 1850's these ladies would have been ... well indelicate to further specify

Not an impossible age for a woman of negotiable virtue, but certainly getting on a bit. Life expectancy in the Victorian era, if you survived childhood, was over all quite good. Working the streets invited a number of life shortening problems, with Jack the Ripper only one example of the extremes.

OTOH The Victorian era , Pax Britanica came with a number of widow creating events.
in no particular order
The Zulu Wars Africa
Regular wars with the Muslims Most famously Khartoum and the relief of North Africa and Asia
The Boxer Rebellion China
The Crimean War Russia
India, home of The Company and The Great Game alone provides large and small scale engagements sufficient to fill volumes.

Reading this I am taken by the fact that the American Civil War would have produced widows in very great numbers indeed.
Total Allied Deaths at Waterloo about 3500 and that number again in the missing, most of these numbers would have been Prussian.
Total British Dead at Trafalgar (1805) about 500.

Total Dead, both sides after 3 days of Gettysburg was around 7,000.

All these numbers to say that there was no tradition of America being as stocked with prostitutes as England, esp London.

Absent numbers, I suspect a reporting problem rather than a shortage of destitute women driven to that extreme.

message 42: by Madge UK (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Yes, sorry, not the Napoleonic wars, perhaps the Crimean was more to blame. Nevertheless, prostitution was a big problem in the UK:


message 43: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments Having just caught up on this discussion, lots of thoughts occur to me. First is that if a contemporary reader is reading a book, not just novels, which was written in the historical past, the reader needs to understand the society which it reflects and comments on in order to truly understand the author's mindset and intentions. In the U.S., there has been a longstanding controversy about Mark Twain's Huckleberry Finn in which Twain uses the "n" word. Many want the text either edited or the book banned from school reading lists. Twain wrote as a man of his time when use of this word was obviously accepted. Editing Twain's text would distort his intentions and result in a less than complete understanding of racial issues during his time. Likewise, Trollope was an author of his time. Plus, in order to sell books, appeal to their audience, an author needed to be mindful of what the public would accept, even if their personal views might be different. I have always been impressed by Trollope's strong women even as they are constrained/conflicted by society's expectations of women at the time. I am reading Margaret Oliphant's Kirsteen for a class. The heroine remains unmarried and earning her own living at the end of the novel. According to my professor, a very unusual ending for a novel even in the later years of the century.
Lastly, I enjoy Trollope's narrator. He uses the narrator for a lot of his social, political, religious commentary which enriches the novels and it feels as if one is listening to the narrator telling a story orally. That's especially how I felt in the Barchester series. I think it adds to a mood of immediacy and intimacy with the characters.

message 44: by Madge UK (last edited Nov 05, 2017 09:25AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments I came across this review of CYFH which calls it 'rewarding satire of the upper reaches of 19th-century society':

message 45: by Bonnie (new)

Bonnie | 217 comments Phrodrick wrote: "Madge UK wrote: "BTW the reason Widows and Spinsters were such a problem to Victorians was that after the Napoleonic wars there were a great many of them, most without financial support, many begging on the streets ...
All these numbers to say that there was no tradition of America being as stocked with prostitutes as England, esp London.
Absent numbers, I suspect a reporting problem rather than a shortage of destitute women driven to that extreme. "

Do you mean that maybe there were just as many prostitutes in the US., but people were less open about it / writers didn't write much about it and so we dont know about them? Except maybe brothels in the Old West.

message 46: by Bonnie (last edited Feb 23, 2018 08:40PM) (new)

Bonnie | 217 comments Fox Hunts, a couple of questions. (Also, in my childhood piano lessons book there was a song about a hunt, which I liked to play and and sing along. It had "Tantivy Tantivy Tantivy! A-hunting we will go!" at the end. This was in third grade and I had no idea about the morals of hunting at that point I am sure.)

1. Does anyone know the rules or setup? What would an ideal fox hunt day look like?

2. George seemed secretive, keeping away from other riders. Was it good or bad to have a servant and an extra horse along? Was he cheating somehow, or with a whole separate agenda of making his horses look stronger than they actually were? But I don't know the
"hunt goal" so how would he cheat?

3. Didn't the hounds kill the fox, not humans? A "sovereign" was mentioned. But how would you win the money. Or was it just the Glory of being there at the end???

4. In the last book "Last Chronicle of the Barchesters" (such a lame title when you think of the multiple plot lines available) the Archdeacon had a problem with his neighbor 's gatekeeper trapping a fox. Why? Did they want more foxes around to hunt? But if there were too many, wouldn't they start killing your chickens and pheasants, or whatever? Was it bad to trap them (keeping the animal in pain and terror for hours) as opposed to shooting them?
I assume fox hunt days were a "special" occasion if that were the case.

message 47: by Abigail (new)

Abigail Bok (regency_reader) | 600 comments Can answer question 2: It was common (if you could afford it) to have more than one horse available to you on the hunt. The cost to the horses in broken legs etc. was immense, so it was a precaution to ensure you could ride to the end.

message 48: by Madge UK (last edited Feb 24, 2018 12:15AM) (new)

Madge UK (madgeuk) | 2931 comments Bunnie: Trollope's descriptions of fox hunting are very accurate, he was a keen huntsman. In Phineas Finn Redux he desribes a meet:

"Carriages were drawn up on all the roads, and horses were clustered on each side of the brook, and the hounds sat stately on their haunches, and there was a hum of merry voices, and the bright colouring of pink coats, and the sheen of ladies' hunting toilettes, and that mingled look of business and amusement which is so peculiar to our national sports.....Two hundred men and women had come there for the chance of a run after a fox - for a chance against which the odds are more than two-to-one at every hunting day. When we give a guinea for a stall at the opera, we think that we pay a large sum; but we are fairly sure of having our music. When you go to Copperhouse Cross you are by no means sure of your music."

Meets start in November and are called by the Master of Foxhounds, a prominent local person, often an aristocrat, on certain days of the year, quarter days, bank holidays etc. It is a very controversial sport of the wealthy and was finally banned in 2002. Shooting foxes is considered preferable. A subscription is paid to join a hunt and keen huntsmen take out several subscriptions at different hunt locations. They also have to pay for horses to be stabled nearby , fed and groomed. A sovereign was a gold coin worth a pound sterling, no longer in circulation.

At the start of a hunt the Master blows a horn and shouts 'Tally Ho', followers fall in line and parade through the village before going onto open farm land for the pursuit. The men's red coats are called 'pink. Being 'in the pink' means being a well set up, healthy man. To ride 'tantivy' means to ride at full gallop. This is a photo of the start of the famous Belvoir (pronounced Beaver) hunt:

Here are the rules and etiquette:

Yes, hounds kill the fox by tearin it to pieces. Prizes are sometimes given for those first at the kill. If it is your first time you are 'blooded' by having its blood smeared on your face.

If fox numbers get low, Masters will arrange for them to be bred on a local farm. Those who hunt are not farmers so don't care if chickens are killed. They usually own the farmland so can trample all over it at will whether the tenant farmer likes it or not. Objecting to it could cost you your tenancy or your standing in the rural community, where many trades depend on the hunt.

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The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910

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Dr. Thorne (other topics)
All the Pretty Horses (other topics)