Week 2

Week 2 Outline
Christina Aruffo and Michael Wolf
28 January 2o13

1. Trollope: How much do we enjoy his writing style?

Compare to critics talking about how boring he is/how great he would be if he just didn’t do X.

“When I read Trollope, it is all I can do not to be bored.  All I can do, because Trollope always seems a little bored himself.” (Miller, Chapter 4, p.145)

“I will do what novelists never yet have done; I will begin with the end of the story; I will have no secrets; I will sacrifice all the interest of cunningly devised situations and mysterious occurrences; I will, not perhaps formally, but virtually, give my readers the action of the piece as an accomplished fact, and if I cannot amuse them with what else remains–namely, with the rational pleasure of the following story in its details, tracing the gradual rise and progress of events, and describing the attendant circumstances,–then I may as well throw aside my pen altogether.” (Dallas placing words in Trollope’s mouth)

Discuss his focus on character over plot.

[…] a good plot,–which to my own feeling, is the most insignificant part of a tale […]” (An Autobiography, p.126)

“A novel should give a picture of common life enlivened by humor and sweetened  by  pathos.  To make the picture worthy of attention, the canvas should be crowded with real portraits, not of individuals known to the world or to the author, but of created personages impregnated with the traits of character which are known.  To my thinking, the plot is but the vehicle of all this; and when you have the vehicle without the passengers […] you have but a wooden show” (An Autobiography, p.126)

What did we individually expect from him?  Were we surprised by what we found?

2. Books about people (as opposed to books about things or happenings)

Look at Trollope’s characters in Barchester Towers and The Warden.  Who are the most defined characters and what are their roles?  Why?

“The Bishop and Mrs. Proudie were very real to me, as were also the troubles of the archdeacon and the loves of Mr. Slope.” (An Autobiography p.103)

“There is the Bishop, incalculably sacred, stupid and senile; his son, the Archdeacon, bustling, pompous, grasping, vigorous, the very type of an unpleasant but valuable church dignitary; the surgeon, bluff and bold, ardent and kindhearted, but full of knighterrantry, and ready for the sake of a theory to hurl all his friends to perdition; the almsmen with their paltry selfishness, their stupid prejudices, and their thin querulous style; the Warden himself, all goodness and meekness, soft and gelatinous; his daughter–one of those young ladies whom we seldom meet with in novels–a very ordinary young lady, with no peculiar gifts, but blessed with a pretty face, a sweet temper, a little plain.  Perhaps the Archdeacon is best drawn character […].” (Dallas)

Jeanette’s close reading focusing on Signora Neroni and Mr. Slope. Excerpts and questions:

What role does “preaching” play in terms of narration?  We never actually hear any sermons—in fact, Trollope goes out of his way to exclude them.  What is the role of preaching in terms of power?

The theme of Signora Neroni’s “stillness.”  What does it mean for such a vivacious woman to never move?

How bad is Mr. Slope, when all is said and done?  Is he completely incorrigible, or does he have some redeemable qualities?

Rachel will talk about close reading a novel a bit.

What kind of focal character is Mr. Harding?  How would we label him? Do we have trouble calling him a protagonist?  If so, why?

Why does Eleanor keep having to get married?  Is it purely a function of her character that she is the type of woman who easily falls in love and gets married, or does Trollope use her merely as a device to bring about that marriage that is expected at the close of a novel.

The narrator as a character (who is he?)

Alison’s close reading. Excerpts:

“The autobiography, a narrative of ‘self’, becomes like the plot of one of his novels: a ‘vehicle’ for a ‘created personages impregnated with traits of character which are known.’”

“Although he does not go so far as to actively state this position as his own, Trollope nonetheless admits to us the novel, his novel, is an imperfect and perhaps untruthful (in its lack of precision) mediation between his imagination and the public. The book which lies open before the reader evokes the privacy of its creation, points to it, but does not necessarily represent it.

Do we consider An Autobiography to fit into the category of “books about people”?  Does Trollope develop himself more as a biographical topic or as a character?

The Jupiter as a character and a villain: what purpose does the paper serve other than to exacerbate issues about which it often knows either nothing or only one side

“A man may have the best of causes, the best of talents, and the best of tempers; he may write as well as Addison, or as strongly as Junius, but even with all this he cannot successfully answer, when attacked by the Jupiter.  In such matters it is omnipotent” (The Warden p.101)

“It is a fact amazing to ordinary mortals that the Jupiter is never wrong.” (The Warden p.161)

3. Newspapers

On Anonymous Literature: how anonymity affects the perceived character of both the writer and the periodical.  How does this apply to Trollope’s fictional paper The Jupiter?

“Unless it could be shown that the newspaper could be produced better of its kinds and more generally influential, by writers with names than by writers without them, writers without names should be preferred. For this reason – and, as I take it, for this reason only,–writers without names are preferred by all newspapers” (On Anonymous Literature 492).

“I think that we may acknowledge the present anonymous system of writing for the daily press in England is useful and salutary as regards the public, even though we may admit that it is not salutary as regards the writer.” (On Anonymous Literature p.493)

“[…] the writer who is made to give his name will be more careful, when using it, than he is when keeping it concealed.” (On Anonymous Literature p.495)

“He had hitherto not learnt that a man who aspires to be on the staff of the Jupiter must surrender all individuality.” (Barchester Towers p.297)

The Panjandrum: Why does the project of the Panjandrum ultimately fail?  Is a clear and cohesive purpose necessary for the creation and success of a periodical?

“If we were thus to disagree on every point, how should we ver blend the elements? If we could not forbear with one another, how could we hope to act together upon as one great force?  If there was no agreement between us, How could we have the strength of union?” (The Panjandrum p.188-189)

To what extent is it true that magazines cannot say “we” because they are really composed of individual opinions?  On the other hand, might a magazine writer be required to write pieces that do not reflect his or her own views?  What purpose does anonymity serve in these cases?

What relationship do discussions of anonymity on the Internet have to these ideas?

Newspaper reviews of Barchester Towers: What views do they express?  Do we agree?  Looking at them in the light of Trollope’s views on and depictions of newspapers, what emerges?  Is it strange that none of the reviewers seem at all worried about spoiling the book by giving away the ending?

The Saturday Review – The article opens praising Barchester Towers for its cleverness but dissapointed at a lack of continuity an dcohesion in the plot which it describes as “a series of brilliant but disjointed sketches.” The rest of review is a summary of the novel.

The Times E.S Dallas – This review begins more as a discussion of Trollope’s merits as a writer of popular fiction and his role in the literary world.  The writer then discusses The Warden, Barchester Towers, Three Clerks, Dr. Thorne, and The Bertrams.  He eventually concludes that Trollope is an amusing but safe author.

Sierra will lead the research round-up

4. Cooperation in Society

Let’s turn to Marx’s “Co-operation” from Capital, Volume I

Cathy’s criticism summary

For Marx, the fruit of cooperation is returned in the form of capital.  Is this ideal?  What of the “magic” that happens when people get together to make things?  Does that make them more productive?

Look at the Panjandrum as a microcosm of society.  Does it perhaps fail from the lack of a defined leader and from any supervision?

Look at and talk through the Miller piece and Madeline’s summary: According to Miller, there is no active regulatory presence in either The Warden or Barchester Towers.  Do you agree?

“The police, as I have said, are negated in Barchester Towers only because they have already been subsumed, but what is the nature of that more comprehensive and efficacious polity which, with such few and feeble traces, has absorbed them?” (Miller p.111)

“Miller applies the idea of the Panopticon to society in Victorian novels. Society as the disciplinary force serves all three functions of the Panopticon. First, it separates out the individuals by subjecting all members of the community to strict observation and the possibility of scandal. Second, it uses the omnipresence of society as a way to enforce cooperation with social discipline. Third, it decentralizes power as even those characters who are in the position of judgment, such as the archbishop and deacon in Trollope’s Barchester Towers are ultimately subject to outside judgment, but from other characters and that narrator himself. “ (Maddie’s summary)

What is Miller’s project in dealing with the police and Trollope?  What moves and assumptions does he make and what is at stake for him in making them?

Compare with Dr. Grantly’s response to outside attempts to regulate the church and Mr. Slope’s obsession with enforcement of the Sabbath.  These are not real regulatory presences, but they both deal with the concept of regulation.

What is it about Miller’s use of Foucault that makes this critique necessary?  There is no real outside authority in the novel, so is it fair to address it in such a manner?

5. The role of the government

Trollope on Parliament: “A man, to be useful in Parliament, must be able to confine himself and conform himself, to be satisfied with doing a little bit of a little thing at a time.” (An Autobiography, 295)

The government as a regulatory body?

Trollope’s experience running for Parliament and his views as a “conservative liberal”

6. Social class

Are the bedesmen actually any less entitled to the hundred a year that they have been promised?  Does the difference lay in the fact that they are labourers and uneducated where Mr. Harding is an educated gentleman?  What does it mean that the twelve men (the number of an English jury) are divided in their decision?

The petition-signing scene, p.67-74

Mr. Harding’s fall from wealth into comparative poverty and Dr. Grantly’s constant schemes to provide him with some unnecessarily high salary.

Harding never changes social class, but he does change economic brackets.  Is class then divorced from money?  How does this relate to the bedesmen’s bid for money?

The party at the Ullathorne’s.  How is the social structure enforced, and how is it violated.  What does it mean for Bertie Stanhope to transcend social class with ease but for the Lookalofts to find such resistance?

Threads running through Marx and Miller.

The disparity between Trollope’s childhood in relative squalor and his adult life in relative ease and comfort.

7. Also for your enjoyment — a hilarious cover of a late-19th c “yellowback” cheap reprint of BT:

Barchester Towers front cover

The event occurs on pages 84-86.  Why was such an atypical occurrence chosen for the cover of the novel?  Does it seem to make the work appear more melodramatic?