English Lamp Posts Top Victorian Blog Award Winner 2011

Brought to you by English Lamp Posts

Monday, February 28, 2011

The Changing Portrait of Mr. Fisker in TWWLN

The Black Brunswicker (1860), John Millais
Hamilton K. Fisker is an American businessman who headed the railway venture in San Francisco and who uses Paul Montague to set a meeting with Melmotte to encourage the latter to become an investor in the company. Ultimately, Fisker's goal is to make money by any means necessary.

The object of Fisker, Montague, and Montague was not to make a railway to Vera Cruz, but to float a company. Paul thought that Mr Fisker seemed to be indifferent whether the railway should ever be constructed or not. It was clearly his idea that fortunes were to be made out of the concern before a spadeful of earth had been moved (Ch. 9).

The building of the railway is not as important to Fisker as the prospect of becoming rich.  Such being the case, Fisker appears to be an American version of Melmotte, the two being placed on an equal plane when they are the only ones to get toasts at a farewell dinner for Fisker (Ch. 10).  Similar to Melmotte, no one trusts Fisker.  Paul is repeatedly described as not trusting Fisker, whom he calls a "wretched American" (Ch. 9).  Lord Nidderdale compares him to the "Heathen Chinee," a Chinese immigrant in a Bret Harte poem who cheats at euchre, when Fisker wins a card game at the Beargarden (Ch. 10).  Roger Carbury, whose judgment the reader learns to trust, "did not believe in Fisker" having learned of him through Paul (Ch. 14).  The strongest condemnation of Fisker comes from the narrator:

Fisker was, perhaps, not a man worthy of much thought.  He had never read a book.  He had never written a line worth reading.  He had never said a prayer.  He cared nothing for humanity.  He had sprung out of some Californian gully, was perhaps ignorant of his own father and mother, and had tumbled up in the world on the strength of his own audacity (Ch. 35).

The American schemer is not portrayed in a positive light.

Nevertheless, Fisker disappears from the narrative after meeting Melmotte and does not appear again until after Melmotte's death 82 chapters later.  He has avoided the stain of Melmotte's sin and arrives back in England in order to settle the late man's affairs.  Though Fisker feels "the work of robbing mankind in gross by magnificently false representations, was not only the duty, but also the delight and the ambition of his life" (Ch. 92), he suddenly becomes honest in his dealings with Marie Melmotte.  He secures her money and offers to take her to America to start life anew.  Marie suspects he is helping her because of her money but agrees to go to America and even agrees to marry Fisker.  Her decision, however, seems to be well-considered, as she has inquired and found that in America, her money can remain her own, a fact Fisker confirms (Ch. 98).  Fisker no longer appears to be the money-hungry exploiter from earlier in the novel but has become a devoted and honest businessman who expresses disgust at Melmotte's crimes (Ch. 92).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Comparison of Jewish portrayal in TWWLN

There are many Jewish representations in Victorian literature, mostly negative, but Trollope presents contrasting portraits in The Way We Live Now.  Though Samuel Cohenlupe and Ezekiel Brehgert are both Jewish and, therefore, lumped together by some characters, they are not at all alike.  While Cohenlupe fits the typically negative Jewish portrayal, Brehgert proves to be one of the few "gentlemen" in the novel. 

Described as "the commercial friend" (Ch. 37) and a person of the "Jewish persuasion" (Ch. 9), Cohenlupe is a close associate of the ultimate villain in the novel, Augustus Melmotte.  Cohenlupe is a member of Parliament, a representative for Staines, a vicinity of double meaning, no doubt.  This befouled man of a befouled district manages the shares in the railway ventures and is privy to many of Melmotte's transactions.  However, his true advantage lies in his lack of speech.  He speaks "fluent but broken English" (Ch. 22) and with vague statements manages to convey little.  At one Board meeting, when Paul Montague demanded to know more about the company's transactions, Cohenlupe states "If anybody don't understand, it's his own fault" (Ch. 37).  The grammatical mishap in Cohenlupe's statement illustrates his inability to communicate with others that are not in on the scheme.  At another meeting, the only details he offers come when he "declared that their prosperity was unprecedented" (Ch. 45), a statement of no substance.  A man of few words, his only conversations of significance occur with Melmotte, with whom he cheats others. 

Whereas Cohenlupe is incoherent, Brehgert, on the other hand, is quite eloquent.  Though Georgiana Longestaffe places Brehgert and Cohenlupe in the same category due to their Jewish heritage ("a world composed altogether of Brehgerts, Melmottes, and Cohenlupes," Ch. 65), Brehgert's ability to speak clearly separates him from Cohenlupe.  When Brehgert writes a letter to Miss Longestaffe to describe the difficulties of the two getting married, even Georgiana cannot overlook the eloquence of the missive, describing it as "plain-spoken and truth-telling" and "sensible" (Ch. 79).  Even when Brehgert helps Mr. Longestaffe, who objected to his daughter marrying a Jew, recover his lost funds after the death of Melmotte, he states plainly that throughout his engagement to Georgiana, "I behaved like a gentleman" (Ch. 88).  Unlike Cohenlupe, Brehgert never speaks vaguely in an attempt to deceive, and such honesty makes some, like Mr. Longestaffe, uncomfortable.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Success in TWWLN

A little before three Mr Melmotte returned to Abchurch Lane, intending to regain his room by the back way; while Lord Nidderdale went westward, considering within his own mind whether it was expedient that he should continue to show himself as a suitor for Miss Melmotte's hand.  He had an idea that a few years ago a man could not have done such a thing—that he would be held to show a poor spirit should he attempt it; but that now it did not much matter what a man did,—if only he were successful.  "After all, it's only an affair of money," he said to himself (Ch. 53).

The mentality described above is the basis of belief for most of the characters in the novel.  The ultimate judge of man was not his actions but the success of whatever actions he decided to take.  This mentality that pervaded 1870s Victorian society rewarded evil men and elevated them.  Money was the driving force and anything was accepted in order to enjoy it in one's grasp.  In TWWLN, greed is the chief vice and Trollope shows through three main character (Felix, Nidderdale, and Melmotte) that each is esteemed in accord with the scheme in which he is involved.

For Felix, the scheme is marrying Marie Melmotte, though he does not love her.  To him,as he tells his mother,  it is nothing more than a game, like that he plays at the Beargarden Club:

"I'm quite a philosopher about it. I want her money; and when one wants money, one should make up one's mind how much or how little one means to take,—and whether one is sure to get it."

"I don't think there can be any doubt."

"If I were to marry her, and if the money wasn't there, it would be very like cutting my throat then, mother. If a man plays and loses, he can play again and perhaps win; but when a fellow goes in for an heiress, and gets the wife without the money, he feels a little hampered you know" (Ch. 23).

Though much dismayed at Miles' cheating at cards, Felix has no qualms about marrying Marie for money, quite a hypocritical stance considering she truly loves him.  Both Felix and his mother fret over the possibility that Melmotte will deny Felix and Marie his money if they elope, though both seem assured that his anger will abate:

 Rich fathers generally do forgive their daughters, and a rich father with only one child would surely forgive her when she returned to him, as she would do in this instance, graced with a title (Ch. 29).

Felix expresses confidence and plans to take her to New York after Marie confides that her father has settled money on her, though Melmotte assumes her to be unaware of this money:

"For New York! We must get some things ready-made. Oh, Felix, how will it be if he does not forgive her?" He attempted to laugh. "When I spoke of such a thing as possible he had not sworn then that he would never give her a shilling."

"They always say that."

"You are going to risk it?"

"I am going to take your advice." This was dreadful to the poor mother. "There is money settled on her."

"Settled on whom?"

"On Marie;—money which he can't get back again."

"How much?"

"She doesn't know,—but a great deal; enough for them all to live upon if things went amiss with them" (Ch. 49)

Though everyone except Marie seems to know that Felix is marrying her for her money, most do not look down on Felix until the actual scheme fails.  Only then is Felix embarassed to show himself in public.

Lord Nidderdale abandons his scheme when success looks unlikely.  Though he is the Melmotte's accepted lover of Marie, he is rejected by the latter who has no interest in the lord.  Melmotte's interest is strictly financial, as Nidderdale has a title and a settled property (Ch. 37).  The proposed marriage has been delayed due to Melmotte's inability to secure the amount of money required by the Nidderdales. 

Fifteen thousand a year was to be settled on Marie and on her eldest son, and twenty thousand pounds were to be paid into Nidderdale's hands six months after the marriage.  Melmotte gave his reasons for not paying this sum at once.  Nidderdale would be more likely to be quiet, if he were kept waiting for that short time.  Melmotte was to purchase and furnish for them a house in town.  It was, too, almost understood that the young people were to have Pickering Park for themselves, except for a week or so at the end of July.  It was absolutely given out in the papers that Pickering was to be theirs.  It was said on all sides that Nidderdale was doing very well for himself.  The absolute money was not perhaps so great as had been at first asked; but then, at that time, Melmotte was not the strong rock, the impregnable tower of commerce, the very navel of the commercial enterprise of the world,—as all men now regarded him.  Nidderdale's father, and Nidderdale himself, were, in the present condition of things, content with a very much less stringent bargain than that which they had endeavoured at first to exact (Ch. 35).

The young lord does not love Marie, and she has no interest in marrying him.  Even after her unsuccessful attempt to run away with Felix, Nidderdale still considers marrying her because "After all, it's only an affair of money" (Ch. 53).  His other concern is that he will be considered a success as the acknowledged lover of Marie.

Melmotte's chief concern is his elevation in society.  He believes it is fine to cheat people and float mythical shares in order to achieve his goals.  He will marry his daughter to a man she does not love because it is his own happiness that he is most concerned about.  He agrees to deals that he cannot fulfill (Pickering property) because he believes he will get away with it.  Nevertheless, despite knowing that he is despiccable and dishonest, everyone seeks to be connected with him because he is apparently wealthy and successful, eventually winning a seat in Parliament.  However, people begin to distance themselves once it became apparent that he would face consequences for his actions.  When judged unsuccessful, men no longer wanted to be connected to him.

Honor played no role in the actions of the men above because society did not value it.  Ultimately, each was judged by the success of the scheme he envisions.  Once his scheme proves unsuccessful will he be looked down upon by society.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Paul Montague

Trollope introduces Paul Montague as a friend of Roger Carbury.  Though likeable, Paul is weak in that he allows others to make decisions for him that he himself should make.  he seeks Roger for advice, only to fail to follow through.  Paul's tendency to vacillate when facing tough situations causes the conflicts with which he must contend in the novel.

Upon inheriting £6000 from his late father, Paul allowed his uncle to invest his money in the railway venture of Hamilton Fisker with "an assurance from his uncle that an income amounting to ten per cent. upon his capital should be remitted to him with the regularity of clockwork" (Ch. 6).  This promise, however, never fully materializes and Paul loses money in a venture in which he never wanted to invest.  Further, Paul unwillingly plays a significant role in getting Melmotte to head the London office of the firm, even though he is leery of Melmotte as a swindler, at one point calling him "as vile a scoundrel as ever lived" (Ch. 26).  Nevertheless, even with this insight into Melmotte's character, Paul still agrees to accept a position on the Board because "the money was very pleasant to him" (Ch. 22).  Paul was starting to be drawn to the money grubbing aspect of the scheme, choosing to ignore his conscience.  He knows he should end his involvement, his wavering is caused by his desire to make money.

Paul's vacillation with regard to Mrs. Hurtle nearly causes an end to his relationship with Hetta.  Though Roger requested that Paul not pursue Hetta so that the former may have her as his own, Paul ignores Roger's request because Hetta had already rejected Roger multiple times.  Paul's previous uniformed engagement to an American divorcee cause Paul much trouble when Mrs. Hurtle travels to England to get an explanation for Paul's breaking off of the affair.  Though Paul no longer loves Mrs. Hurtle, his consents to take her to a play and spend some time with her at the beach, appearing in public with her as an engaged couple without having told Hetta that a Mrs. Hurtle exists.  Paul's feeling do not vacillate but his actions suggest that he is not willing to separate himself completely from his past.

Paul is "at heart honest and well-conditioned" (Ch. 10), but he is a person of questionable judgment and not forceful enough when dealing with challenging situations.  Such a personality trait causes him to deal with many troubles he could avoid. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Roger Carbury

A Squire with his Tenants (1849), Henry John Boddington
Roger Carbury is the head of the Carbury family and a distant cousin to the late husband of Lady Carbury.  A man nearly 40 years of age, he lives alone in the English countryside of Suffolk, away from London.  As a bachelor, he sees only one person worthy of being his wife:  Hetta Carbury.  He declares that he will never any other, having resolved that she is the only one fit to be his wife. 

Roger is a man of traditional values, who has not embraced the greed-based principles of the day.  He is the owner of the original Carbury property and lives in a small, older house, described as "picturesque rather than comfortable" (Ch. 14), not new and gaudy like that of his neighbors.  Roger believed that a "man's standing in the world should not depend at all upon his wealth" (Ch. 6).  Whereas Felix had accumulated an enormous amount of debt, Roger "never owed a shilling that he could not pay" (Ch. 6).  Neither did Roger believe that me should hold titles without money.

 Sir Patrick, to his thinking, had been altogether unjustifiable in accepting an enduring title, knowing that he would leave behind him no property adequate for its support.  A baronet, so thought Roger Carbury, should be a rich man, rich enough to grace the rank which he assumed to wear.  A title, according to Roger's doctrine on such subjects, could make no man a gentleman, but, if improperly worn, might degrade a man who would otherwise be a gentleman (Ch. 14)

Ultimately, Roger refused to conform to "the way we live now."  He was not one to allow money to control his life.  He did not have any vast designs of fame or fortune.  He did not wish to marry a duchess but enjoyed the quiet, country life, which explains his support of the marriage of John Crumb and Ruby Ruggles. 

Roger is the voice of opposition to Melmotte, whom he describes as "dirt in the gutter" (Ch. 15).  Roger avoids contact with the Melmottes, refusing to attend any balls or banquets at their residence, out of fear of contamination:

That condonation of antecedents which, in the hurry of the world, is often vouchsafed to success, that growing feeling which induces people to assert to themselves that they are not bound to go outside the general verdict, and that they may shake hands with whomsoever the world shakes hands with, had never reached him.  The old-fashioned idea that the touching of pitch will defile still prevailed with him.  He was a gentleman;—and would have felt himself disgraced to enter the house of such a one as Augustus Melmotte (Ch. 8).

Roger wants nothing to do with a "French swindler...buying his way into society" (Ch. 7).

The reader comes to trust Roger, agreeing with Hetta when she states succinctly, "Roger is always right" (Ch. 38).  He is the perfect husband for the selfless Hetta, but even she prefers one (Paul Montague) somewhat innocently contaminated by the money-grubbing vultures of the day.  Though Paul himself seems innocent enough, he is in danger of being influenced by Melmotte by being a member of the infamous Board.  The reader, who likes Hetta and wants the best for her, feels like Roger would be the better mate, though he has been rejected twice.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Unwillingness to Work in TWWLN (cont'd)

Wharfedale (1872), John Atkinson Grimshaw

 Lord Nidderdale is yet another lord whose family is having pecuniary troubles.  In order to correct these troubles, the young lord's father, the Marquis, has tried to arrange a marriage between Nidderdale and Marie Melmotte, a union which would require Melmotte to pay a sum of half a million pounds before it is settled.  Melmotte struggles to acquire the money and Nidderdale gives up his pursuit.  He begins to have true feelings for her later, but a marriage becomes impossible with Melmotte's suicide and the revelation of his crimes. 
The situation of Lady Carbury is a little different.  A widow with an income of £1000 a year, she quickly realizes that is not enough money, having a son like Felix who is a spendthrift.  Therefore, she pursues a literary career, though without any training, producing the book Criminal Queens, a factually challenged historical work.  Her scheme is to solicit favorable reviews of her work from three editors of popular newspapers of the day, hoping they will overlook the the fact that the work lacks true scholarship.  Called "false from head to foot" (Ch. 2)), she evens uses her feminine qualities to appeal to one editor in particular, Mr. Broune.  Lady Carbury does not refuse to work but looks for the easy way out, never once suggesting that Felix himself should work but instead enabling his laziness. 

As an antithesis these lazy characters, all dwelling in the city of London, Trollope introduces John Crumb, who lives outside the city.  Crumb is engaged to Ruby Ruggles, who rejects Crumb because of his poverty as well as his lack of education and elegance. 

Her education has been much better than that of the man.  She can read, whereas he can only spell words from a book.  She can write a letter after her fashion, whereas he can barely spell words out on a paper.  Her tongue is more glib, and her intellect sharper.  But her ignorance as to the reality of things is much more gross than his.  By such contact as he has with men in markets, in the streets of the towns he frequents, and even in the fields, he learns something unconsciously of the relative condition of his countrymen,—and, as to that which he does not learn, his imagination is obtuse.  But the woman builds castles in the air, and wonders, and longs (Ch. 18)

Crumb, a "dealer in meal and pollard" (Ch. 18), shows up to a dinner at the Ruggles home covered with evidence of his work, his uncouth appearance repulses Ruby.  Preferring Felix, Ruby is drawn to the latter's physical characteristics (good-looking, well-groomed, though clothed carelessly) but ignores his flaws and inability to support her, unlike Crumb, who though "the dustiest of all men" (Ch. 18) is "afraid of no work" (Ch. 33). 

She made mental comparisons between him and Sir Felix Carbury.  She could see, as though present to her at the moment, the mealy, floury head of the one, with hair stiff with perennial dust from his sacks, and the sweet glossy dark well-combed locks of the other, so bright, so seductive, that she was ever longing to twine her fingers among them.  And she remembered the heavy, flat, broad honest face of the mealman, with his mouth slow in motion, and his broad nose looking like a huge white promontory, and his great staring eyes, from the corners of which he was always extracting meal and grit;—and then also she remembered the white teeth, the beautiful soft lips, the perfect eyebrows, and the rich complexion of her London lover (Ch. 33).

It is only through misuse that Ruby is able to appreciate Crumb as the better man.  As a result, he is one of the few characters in the book that ends up happy with the love of his life while maintaining his integrity.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Unwillingness to Work in TWWLN

The financial corruption of Melmotte is a large scale example of the corruption present throughout the novel.  One major source of the corruption is the unwillingness to work of members of the English gentry living in London.  They are young men who inherited their titles and are unmotivated  develop a trade.  The common thread is that their families have encountered financial troubles and the wealth that once existed has diminished.  Therefore, they all look for ways to connect themselves to Melmotte in order to obtain riches. 

Sir Felix Carbury inherited his baronetcy from his father, who left him £1000 a year,, but Felix has squandered his money as well as his mother's mostly through gambling at the Beargarden club.  He has huge debts, but even when he wins at cards, "He never for a moment thought of paying his bills" (Ch. 3).  Felix feels no remorse in bankrupting his familyy, having been doted on since biirth.  He serves on the Board of Melmotte's railway venture and tries to connect himself to Melmotte through a half-hearted romance with Melmotte's only daughter Marie.  Though not in love with Marie, he, prompted by his mother's insistence, attaches himself to Marie while also carrying on a different affair with Ruby Ruggles, though he does no actual work.  Felix has never had to work fr anything. 

Miles Grendall is similar to Feliz.  The son of a lord, he too gambles at the Beargarden but cheats while playing, though no one confronts him about it.  His father is in straits and performs menial tasks for Melmotte in exchange for money.  Miles is considered overpaid for his work as secretary for the railway Board of Directors. 

Dolly Longestaffe is another young man whose family has encountered financial troubles and who goes to Melmotte for help, eventually giving up a London property to move into the countryside.  Mr. Longestaffe also sells an estate to Melmotte, though the latter never pays for it.  Dolly joins the others at the Beargarden to gamble.  He constantly quarrels with his father, particularly when it comes to the sale of the Pickering estate.  Dolly manages to engineer Melmotte's downfall when he contends that he never signed documents authorizing Melmotte to sell Pickering.  As Melmotte's forgery becomes increasingly apparent, Melmotte realizes that he is caught and end it all with suicide.  Dolly's main concern is having enough money to gamble with, so it is actually his greed which leads to Melmotte's downfall.

The  above engraving is The Road to Ruin College (1878) by William Powell Frith.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Melmotte vs. Madoff

The main plot of TWWLN revolves around a wealthy financier, Augustus Melmotte, who sells shares in an imposter railroad venture.  Melmotte's recent arrival in London is shrouded in mystery, since little is know of his past.  Strong speculation suggests he was born in New York, though he has spent a significant amount of time on the Continent.  Nevertheless, he has arrived in London with an exorbitant amount of money and no one is sure of how he acquire, though rumor has it he may have been a banker.  In order to gain traction with his railroad scheme, Melmotte surrounds himself with young men, inexperienced in the world, who have no knowledge of financial dealings.  This arrangement allows him to manipulate these faux transactions and pay out minimum funds while adding to his own personal wealth.

The storyline immediately reminds one of the Ponzi schem of Bernie Madoff, brought to light in 2008.  Like Melmotte, Madoff is a Jewish, supposed financial guru who falsified investment documents to those who entrusted him with their money.  He bled off the money of those investments, though no such investments existed.  Because he dealt mostly with charities, there was no threat of huge cash-ins.  Thus, the scheme was able to be sustained.

Both men were successful in deceiving so many people because their word was considered as good as gold.  They were presumed to be trustworthy due to their influence and unfathomable financial resources.  Melmotte's wealth was presumed to be bottomless, particularly when he hosted the Emperor of China at a state dinner at his residence.  He spared no expense, though Trollope reveals that all costs were paid for on credit.  No vendor doubted payment from the great Melmotte however.  Similarly, Melmotte bought the property of the financially-strapped Longstaffes, though no money actually exchanged hands.  Later in the novel, Melmotte is exposed as having sold the property before paying for it.  Because Melmotte's prosperity was never questioned (though it should have been), immediate payment was not demanded.  Interesting enough, Melmotte's eventual downfall is commenced by the financially irresponsible Dolly Longstaffe.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A Writer's Responsibility

"Nevertheless a certain class of dishonesty, dishonesty magnificent in its proportions, and climbing into high places, has become at the same time so rampant and so splendid that there seems to be reason for fearing that men and women will be taught to feel that dishonesty, if it can become splendid, will cease to be abominable. If dishonesty can live in a gorgeous palace with pictures on all its walls, and gems in all its cupboards, with marble and ivory in all its corners, and can give Apician dinners, and get into Parliament, and deal in millions, then dishonesty is not disgraceful, and the man dishonest after such a fashion is not a low scoundrel. Instigated, I say, by some such reflections as these, I sat down in my new house to write The Way We Live Now. And as I had ventured to take the whip of the satirist into my hand, I went beyond the iniquities of the great speculator who robs everybody, and made an onslaught also on other vices;—on the intrigues of girls who want to get married, on the luxury of young men who prefer to remain single, and on the puffing propensities of authors who desire to cheat the public into buying their volumes."  (An Autobiography, 1883)

In chapter 20 of his Autobiography, Trollope describes his return to London from Australia in late 1872, upon which he settle in Montagu Square.  Prompted by the "commercial profligacy of  the age," Trollope began his The Way We Live Now (TWWLN) to address the immorality to which he was exposed.  Trollope uses his Autobiography to describe a writer's responsibilities to his audience.  A writer of fiction has an obligation to teach morals.  One must portray dishonest characters in such a way that readers will reject them, even if they happen to meet one's ideal of beauty.  In TWWLN, Felix is acknowledged as very good looking, but his character is as base as possible.  However, those in the novel that are attracted to him realize too late how reproachful he is. 

Furthermore, Trollope asserts that a writer must convince his readers that "truth in love will make them happy."  In the novel, many characters seek to get married with the wrong motive.  For example, Georgianna Longstaffe desires to marry Brehgert, a Jew, despite his religion and her family's objection, which seems honorable, but her motive is exposed when she demands he keep his house in London, in spite of his pecuniary troubles.  Her only motivation in consenting to marry Brehgert is money and he ultimately ends their engagement.  Trollope illustrates that the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Anthony Trollope

Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) was born in London, the fifth of seven children, though only one of two to survive to adulthood.  The Trollope family was poor, partly due to the father's gambling habits.  Thomas Trollope tried but failed at law before becoming a farmer.  Anthony's mother, Frances, after a family trip to the United States, published Domestic Manners of the Americans and used writing as a way to support the family after her husband's death.  She secured for Anthony a position as a post office clerk when he was 19 and seven years later in 1841, he received a promotion of sorts to go to Ireland.  His job in Ireland, which he would hold until retiring in 1867, allowed him to travel to places such as Egypt and the West Indies.  It was while in Ireland that he began his literary career.

His first novel, The MacDermots of Ballycloran (1847), garnered little attention, and Trollope remained relatively unacclaimed until the 1855 publication of The Warden, which became the first novel in the Barsetshire series.  He continued to produce several novels throughout the 1860s, such as Orley Farm and He Knew He Was Right.  His novels are written in a realistic vein, addressing social issues of his day.  Trollope uses humor and sarcasm to bring to life the Victorian society in which he lived.  He adhered to a strict writing schedule in order to finish his novels, often writing on the train going to and coming from work.

Trollope retired from the postal service in 1867 and, after an unsuccessful bid for Parliament, he traveled to Australia, New Zealand, and the U.S. before returning to London.  Upon his return, he recognized the culture of greed and corruption that had infiltrated the city of his birth.  This realization prompted him to write The Way We Live Now.  Published in 1875, the novel chronicles the lives of members of the English upper and lower classes to illustrate the role greed played at all levels of society.  His most far reaching work, the novel leaves no aspect of English life unexamined.


Related Posts with Thumbnails