Can You Forgive Her? - Vol. 1

Can You Forgive Her? - Vol. 1

Can You Forgive Her? - Vol. 1

Can You Forgive Her? - Vol. 1

Excerpt

If Anthony Trollope ever thought of the six novels which constitute the first group of this new and handsome edition of his works as in any formal sense a series, he certainly did not regard them as a series of 'political' fictions. Admittedly, speaking of Phineas Finn in his Autobiography, he says: 'I commenced a series of semi-political tales.' But he then proceeds to declare politics to be by themselves insufficient to make a tale pleasing; insists that an extensive canvas was forced on him by his ambition to present a social panorama; and returns to his favourite theme -- 'the necessity for progression of character', exemplified, of course, in Plantagenet Palliser and his wife Glencora.

Politics per se -- or rather the possibilities open to an elected Member of the House of Commons -- were very near his heart. But he was too intuitively a novelist to permit a personal preoccupation to dominate his story-telling. His concern was to create a social scene, which widened and grew more crowded as an increasing number of men and women came to populate it. The back-cloth was St. Stephen's, the characters directly or indirectly involved in the Parliamentary governance of England. Infinite pains were taken to ensure that the technicalities of political life and the procedure of the two Houses should be scrupulously correct. But what the debates were about, what were the true policies of successive governments, we are told just so much as seemed permissible to Trollope the novelist -- which, however convinced and argumentative over public affairs Trollope the citizen may have been, was little enough.

How much of actual 'politics' is there in these 'semipolitical tales? Vague discussion of a Reform and Ballot Bill; party manœuvres over Disestablishment; Palliser's laborious aspiration toward Decimal Coinage; two or three . . .

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