Dear Readers,

I now consider this blog to be my Juvenelia. Have fun perusing the archives, and find me at my new haunt, here.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

And They All Lived Happily Ever After!

At long last, 840-odd pages of Victorian prose later, my reading of Trollope's The Way We Live Now is complete. I'll even be able to return it to the library on time, though slightly worse for wear.
As Victorian novels go, it's not one of my favorites, for the reason that none of the characters really pulled me in emotionally. Trollope was too good at delineating their faults. I cared enough to be glad when I saw some of the main characters settled happily (though not all of them received a good fate) as one always is at the end of a great, long journey at the hands of a 19th century author.

For all my joking about the anti-semitic comments in the book, Trollope's relentless stereotpying of the Jews and Americans--whose importance as movers and shakers compared to the staid, effete, landowning gentry was one of the books main themes--was always my focus while reading. He painted a vivid , engaging picture of the "Wild Cat" American widow(?) Mrs. Hurtle, and the kind, honest and "good-humored" Jewish banker Mr. Breghert, but he refused to give them any satisfaction plot-wise, and ultimately cast them back out of the society they charged into so energetically. Whether this was a brilliant exposition of the prejudices and narrowness of Trollope's lollygagging set of British aristocracy, or his own imability to imagine the "races" intermingling to such an extent, I can't quite decide.

The book's villains--from the pompous, magnetic swindler Melmotte, to the diffident and worthless group of young aristocrats headed by Sir Felix Carbury and Dolly Longstaffe--were hilariously drawn. The heroes and heroines were self-righteous and virtuous, but less angelically rendered than, say, David Copperfield's Agnes. Trollope showed them in their irrelevant straight-and-narrowness, which was appreciated (Although Copperfield was a much more enthralling, heart-wrenching read).

Anyway, on to Lisey's Story and this month's issue of Jane, and I bid farewell to the world of Westminster politics, gentleman's clubs, family manors, entailments, and marriages-of-fortune. But of course I'll be back; one can't say away from 19th century Britain for long.


  1. I loved that book though I know what you mean about not getting totally pulled in by the characters. There was a pretty good tv mini-series of the book, I think on PBS that was pretty faithful to the book and I thought it gave the story a 3rd dimension that wasn't necessarily apparent while reading it.

  2. Definitely loved it too... maybe I sound too nitpicky in the interest of "analysis." I think areading a like that is like being allowed into an entire world for a few weeks, and leaving it becomes so sad. Can't wait to rent the PBS series.