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radiantfracture

September 2017

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Thanks for the follow-backs, journalfolk. I have no plan for how to make it worth your while.

I am finished Barchester Towers, and glad to be quit of it.

I liked The Warden very much, and there are many things to like about Barchester Towers, but, having read this novel of his, I cannot say with conviction that I like Anthony Trollope. I wonder if the reason I gave up on the Chronicles of Barsetshire all those years ago was my annoyance with this book and specifically its constant lumbering jocularity about the Nature of Woman.

Some of the good qualities of The Warden are still in evidence; Trollope is very good on the pettier, more self-concerned, but not actually evil side of human behavior -- the way that resentment and pride override charity and compassion, for example. Mr. Arabin, ruefully trying to remake his life at 40, moves me, and the signora, though not precisely adequate as a portrait of a woman with a disability, comes close to being a fascinating character study. I wouldn’t say she tips over, quite, into actually being fascinating, though the ambiguity around her injury and its cause, and the constant speculation about What's Under the Blanket, would provide excellent material for, say, Lacan.

The major characters of The Warden seem to have foregone any further personal growth in the sequel and are content to run the little grooves of their personae over and over, like table hockey characters. That was my feeling; the book group liked them better, and thought that the relentless babbling about the hilarious weakness of women was meant more ironically than I did.

(Some poking at the mass conversation (Look! The Victorian Web is still there!) produces various interesting possible positions on this question.) (When I was a youth nothing pleased me more than nested parentheses, especially if I could wrap them all up together at the end: ((())).)

In The Warden there are really no villains – just short-sighted selfish people, and I like that about it. Barchester Towers is painted in broader, almost Dickensian strokes. Mr Slope is stuck in the begged question of bad guys: why is he the villain? Because he's bad. How do you know he's bad? Because he's the villain. Also, red hair. Watch out.

Next up: Howard's End, last read about the same time as BT, which is to say, a very long time ago indeed.

I got violently winded walking to book group yesterday, though the sticky toffee pudding was worth it. Today a little errand walking similarly exhausted me. It was ten days ago the walk-in clinic doctor gave me the puffer and said this thing would play itself out.

So tired. I think tomorrow will be an ugly shirt day (a day when you're too tired to iron the good shirts).

An invitation, of course, to think about illness and wellness, access and ability. Something to discuss with the senora.

{rf}

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-17 05:25 am (UTC)
heliopausa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heliopausa
I think the Stanhopes in total are a fascinating study (except Mrs Stanhope, who stays shadowy throughout). The absolute clarity with which they all face (and contribute to) their own grim futures is breathtaking, I think - absolute nihilism. No - only the younger Stanhopes - Dr. Stanhope is different: a devastating portrait of a man who's brought others to ruin, and knows it, and can't stop - like Macbeth, in (not-blood - fecklessness?) so far, returning were as tedious as go o'er.

Re: The Stanhopes

Date: 2017-01-18 02:24 am (UTC)
heliopausa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heliopausa
I know what you mean about the other, unwritten novels - I said something similar the other day, in reply to someone on LJ, about Phineas Finn, another Trollope novel.

Yes, I've read all the Barsetshire novels. Do I recommend them? Mmmm..
The trouble is that Trollope has such a pronounced voice, and if you don't like his voice (and I think you don't) then you probably wouldn't enjoy the series. His strengths are all there - the rather world-weary examination of the actual day-to-day mechanics of trivial corruptions and downfalls, cased in easy-to-read, usually happy-ending, love-stories (because Trollope was writing for a market he knew very well, not to make high art).
The corruptions are all petty - debts, attempted entrapment into marriage, hypocrisies, drunkenness - and he's pretty shameless about letting his heroes and heroines escape the consequences of their follies; he lets the reader off lightly, for the most part.
I like The Last Chronicle very much, but then - I like Trollope's voice!

Re: The Stanhopes

Date: 2017-01-18 08:27 am (UTC)
heliopausa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heliopausa
:D No way! The choice is entirely yours!

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-17 09:09 pm (UTC)
moon_custafer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] moon_custafer
I wouldn’t say she tips over, quite, into actually being fascinating, though the ambiguity around her injury and its cause, and the constant speculation about What's Under the Blanket, would provide excellent material for, say, Lacan.

Sounds like she and Uncle Toby ought to hook up. How does she feel about model soldiers?

Your interest in nested parentheses reminds me of writing code. I periodically try to learn how, and it's always the parentheses that trip me up.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-18 12:33 am (UTC)
moon_custafer: (Default)
From: [personal profile] moon_custafer
Not sure. To be honest I always thought Tristram Shandy was the sui generis Groin Injury Novel. In most other works the ambiguous ailment is more likely to be some kind of sickness rather than injury, usually a Romanticized version of TB.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-01-18 01:46 am (UTC)
heliopausa: (Default)
From: [personal profile] heliopausa
But it's not ambiguous at all! At least - she was violently attacked by her husband, and Trollope's description of her injuries accords pretty precisely with the results of an untreated fractured hip. From wikipedia, about untreated hip fractures:
"On examination, the affected extremity is often shortened and unnaturally, externally rotated compared to the unaffected leg."

I think her absolute refusal to self-pity is amazing - also her deft redefining of herself as unable to walk, and needing to be carried everywhere by two or three attendants. She can walk, of course, but it would be with a pronounced limp, which she knows would be seen as pitiable and ugly, and she just doesn't choose to be seen that way. It's this, not her premarital sex, which makes her such a morally defiant character in the nineteenth-century world - all the right-thinking invalids try as hard as they can to be mobile, even cheerfully calling for amputation and a wooden leg, like the girl in Pillars of the House.
Trollope of course admires her greatly, even if he thinks she's as damaging and self-destructive as all the Stanhopes.
Edited Date: 2017-01-18 02:10 am (UTC)

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