Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Was I Wrong About Trollope?

In a recent comment, I suggested that Anthony Trollope was the 'Werther's Originals' of English literature (for non-UK readers, they are a sweet/candy, favoured by the elderly). I also suggested that my current penchant for Trollope was evidence that I was knocking on a bit, or as the Spanish would say, es bastante viejo.

When you need reading glasses and would rather take a Trollope than a trollop to bed, you have crossed a border.

But I was wrong. Here is a young woman who loves Trollope, apart from The Warden, which she thinks is a bit boring:


Debra said...

Nice to think that some of the youngsters are interested in reading books older than last week, huh ?
But I found that the word "boring" scored too many hits for my taste....
Less than a hundred years ago a lot of people were asking themselves what was wrong with THEM when they found something... not as desirable as what they had hoped. Now we tend to point the finger in the opposite direction.
Maybe in 50 years we can regain some kind of equilibrium ? I'm not holding my breath though.
I will be dead before the pendulum swings back.
Relax though. You are not old.
You have a head on you in a context where lots of people have lost theirs, and not to the guillotine.

Steerforth said...

Debra - In fairness to the unsmiling young woman, I think she meant that The Warden was boring by Trollope's own standards.

I'm amazed that she'd waded through so many novels about the ecclesiastical situation in mid-Victorian England.

Anna said...

Or, were you were? AnnaC

Martin Hodges said...

I confess, I've not taken a Trollope to bed. Although I have woken up to discover a Woolf beside me.

Brett said...

Ouch! We have a dish of Werther's on the kitchen counter. And, after cataract surgery, I am wearing reading glasses. Oh well, if the Fu Shits.

Someone donated a lot of Oxford World's Classics editions of the Barset novels to the library, and I put them straight into the collection.

I have the complete Trollope on my e-reader, ($6.00!), but it doesn't have the footnotes and character guides that the OWC editions do. It helps to have been an Episcopalian when reading these.

Steerforth said...

AnnaC - I was completely blind to that typo - it took me a pathetically long time to work out what you meant. On the few occasions my wife reads my blog, she says the errors drive her mad.

Martin - As long as you don't take a Birch, that's fine.

Brett - I didn't know they were a global phenomenon. My mother's like a crack dealer with the Werthers - always trying to push them onto my sons, despite my protests.

It's tempting to buy the complete Trollope, but at the moment I'm downloading free copies of the single novels. I like to know how much I've read of each book, rather than starting at 73%.

Helen Brocklebank said...

I'm so glad you're better. It must have been very trying.
I love Trollope - wait til you get to the Eustace Diamonds (if you've decided to continue with the ones that come after Can You Forgive Her). Speaking of books which are thought of as unfashionable at the moment, I've nearly finished the first in the Forsyte Saga, A Man of Property. Blimey, Galsworthy is marvellous.

Helen Brocklebank said...

Struggling madly to leave a comment -it keeps being eaten. Here goes:
1. Very glad you're better
2. Trollope is wonderful. Wait til you get to the Eustace Diamonds
3. Speaking of unfashionable books, i've nearly finished the first in the Forsyte Saga - Galsworthy is bliss - i'm so sorry I hadn't read him sooner.

Helen Brocklebank said...

Also, I do think Stoner was possibly my favourite book of last year - a few pages in and one feels as if one has known him all one's life. What also fascinated me was the author's refusal to interfere in his life - I quite wanted him to rescue Stoner, to make him heroic, and yet he goes on being heroically ordinary. A quietly triumphant achievement, I think.

Steerforth said...

Helen - Yes, I'm on Phineas Finn at the moment and planning to work my way through the whole series. I also have Galsworthy lined up.

Stoner was heartbreaking. I desperately wanted him to...ah, I suppose I shouldn't provide 'spoliers' for anyone who hasn't read it. But if I say how moved I was by "To W. S." I don't think I'm giving anything away.

George said...

Probably 20 years ago, the writer Cynthia Ozick wrote a piece for The New York Times Book Review with two main points: a), Trollope is a great artists; b), the great mass of his readers are sub-literary snobs. There were a number of well-written, politely furious letters printed a couple of weeks later.

I suppose I should go back and read Stoner, for it has been 30 or 35 years since I did so. Williams was certainly not unappreciated in his day, for he got a National Book Award, and I was told that Harvard wanted to hire him. But I think it a shame that the Stoner boom arrived after his death.

Steerforth said...

George - I think that essay is included in a collection called 'Fame and Folly', now on sale for a mere penny, so I think I'll order it. I've found several quotes on various blogs and websites, including one that suggests that Trollope's greatest mistake was to reveal his approach to writing, which suggested that it was all perspiration rather than inspiration.

I agree that it's a tragedy that Williams didn't live long enough to witness his success. Ditto Richard Yates.

Desperate Reader said...

The Eustace Diamonds was so good I've not opened a Trollope since - or some excuse like that. I really do think The Eustace Diamonds is excellent. I also find him quite an unsettling writer in that I have a fixed idea of what he's about (comfortable ecclesiastic stuff) based on the first few books I read, but the more of him I read and the more I think back on what I have read the less he conforms to the image I've created for myself.

Steerforth said...

Desperate Reader - I was going to read something else, but after two glowing recommendations (you and Mrs Trefusis), perhaps I'll go straight on to The Eustace Diamonds.