Anthony Trollope Analysis

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

ph_0111201596-Trollope.jpg Anthony Trollope Published by Salem Press, Inc.

The novels of Anthony Trollope (TRAHL-uhp) were frequently first published in serialized form in various periodicals such as the Cornhill Magazine and The Fortnightly Review. They appeared subsequently in a two- or three-volume format. Trollope wrote several books of cultural reportage that were more than mere travelogues: The West Indies (1859), North America (1862), Australia and New Zealand (1873), and South Africa (1878), along with the more impressionistic Travelling Sketches (1865-1866). Three volumes of short stories appeared: Lotta Schmidt, and Other Stories (1867), An Editor’s Tales (1870), and Why Frau Frohmann Raised Her Prices, and Other Stories (1882). He wrote sketches of clerical men in Clergymen of the Church of England (1865-1866) and detailed biographies of William Makepeace Thackeray, a longtime friend (Thackeray, 1879), and Lord Palmerston, the prominent politician (Lord Palmerston, 1882). His Autobiography appeared posthumously in 1883. He tried his hand at classical translation in an edition of The Commentaries of Caesar (1870). Many of Trollope’s letters were collected in a 1951 volume edited by Bradford A. Booth, but a number of complete and fragmentary letters remain unpublished at Princeton University.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Anthony Trollope was acknowledged during his lifetime as a prominent though not necessarily a weighty or enduring writer. He wished to entertain and he did so, at least until the late 1860’s, when He Knew He Was Right turned out to be a failure. His posthumous reputation was harmed by his Autobiography, which claimed that he wrote automatically, that his characters were imitations of commonly observed types, that he transcribed reality without much aesthetic control, and that he forced his production by his methodical habits of composition whatever the circumstances. These admissions brought upon him the wrath of the next generation of writers in the 1880’s and 1890’s who were imbued with more aesthetic doctrines of carefully contrived and consistent viewpoints, detailed representation of interior states, a conscious interplay of ideas, and a complex style to suit a more complex method of storytelling.

Later, Trollope suffered from those who deemed him a pedestrian realist padding his work with creaking plots, flat characters, prosaic situations, and dull prose. He was, and still is for much of the public, the novelist of a single work, Barchester Towers, but other writers and critics have not forgiven him for writing more than thirty novels and setting himself a goal to exceed in quantity if not in quality. Despite what seems to be a simple theory of fiction—the writer tries as closely as possible to make the reader’s experience approximate his own, to...

(The entire section is 614 words.)

Discussion Topics

(Masterpieces of World Literature, Critical Edition)

If Anthony Trollope’s books are pleasant visits to a world of small problems and minor disappointments, why does he enjoy a wide and varied readership more than a century after his death?

Is the predictability of Trollope’s characters and plots a strength or a weakness?

Trollope begins the Barchester novels by introducing a relatively minor clerical figure, Mr. Harding, who dies at the end of The Last Chronicle of Barset. How does his presence give shape to this sequence of novels?

Examine the first chapter of Barchester Towers, “Who Will Be the New Bishop?”, and observe how Trollope establishes character, tone, conflict, and other features of the novel.

In not seriously challenging the routine and aspirations of Victorian society, does Trollope present that society more thoroughly than could a severe critic?

Examine Trollope’s writing career as an instance of disciplined work habits.


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Felber, Lynette. Gender and Genre in Novels Without End: The British Roman-Fleuve. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1995. Discusses Trollope’s Palliser novels, Dorothy Richardson’s Pilgrimage (1938, 1967), and Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time (1955-1975). An excellent study.

Glendinning, Victoria. Anthony Trollope. New York: Knopf, 1993.

Hall, N. John. Trollope: A Biography. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1991. Draws heavily on the great Victorian’s own words and pays particular attention to Trollope’s travel writing and his final decade.

Hall, N. John, ed. The Trollope Critics. Basingstoke, Hampshire, England: Macmillan, 1981. A good critical anthology for introductory purposes. Includes twenty Trollope critics and covers a wide range of topics. Contains bibliography.

Halperin, John. Trollope and Politics. New York: Macmillan, 1977. This study focuses on each of the six Palliser novels and includes several more general chapters. Contains a select bibliography and indexes.

Mullen, Richard, and James Munson. The Penguin Companion to Trollope. New York: Penguin, 1996. A thorough guide to Trollope’s life and works. With index and bibliography.

Pollard, Arthur. Anthony Trollope. Boston: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978. Pollard seeks to put all of Trollope’s novels and a variety of miscellaneous works within the context of his life and time. Stresses Trollope’s evocation of his age and his guiding moral purpose. Includes an index.

Terry, R. C., ed. Trollope: Interviews and Recollections. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1987. This invaluable collection is a useful adjunct to the numerous biographies of Trollope. Terry collects forty-six memories of Trollope by a host of individuals who knew him at various points in his life. Includes critical evaluations of Trollope’s work.

Wall, Stephen. Trollope: Living with Character. New York: Henry Holt, 1989.

Wright, Andrew. Anthony Trollope: Dream and Art. Basingstoke, Hampshire, England: Macmillan, 1983. This brief study of fifteen of Trollope’s novels sees them as contemporary fictions, transfiguring life in a certain way. Contains a bibliography and an index.