Anthony Trollope: A Commentary

Anthony Trollope: A Commentary

Anthony Trollope: A Commentary

Anthony Trollope: A Commentary

Excerpt

Good Trollopians will welcome this book. It is curious that only two books should have been written about Anthony Trollope, and it is hardly less curious that I should have read both of them in manuscript. In 1912, being in London, John Lane, the publisher, knowing my interest in Trollope, asked me if I would read a book about him, by T. H. S. Escott, and give him my opinion of it. I consented, and waded through a pile of manuscript that filled a good-sized suitcase. My report was not unfavourable: I said that the book would probably pay its way; Lane accepted it, and my opinion was justified.

Several years ago, sitting with my friend Michael Sadleir, he remarked that Escott's book was the only book on Trollope and it was high time there was another. "Why don't you write it?" I inquired; "you have the material, the knowledge, and the enthusiasm: you do it." Naturally, when Mr. Sadleir asked me to read his book and write an introduction to it, I felt bound to do so; and as I read the duty became a pleasure.

The world is divided into Trollopians -- and others: if you, reader, are not one of us, hasten to become one, for there are few pleasures equal to that of knowing Trollope through and through, as Sadleir does, and as Tinker (of Yale) does, and as Osgood (of Princeton) does, and -- I should like to add -- as I do. I do not say that Trollope is our greatest novelist; I know that he is not, but I can read him when I can't read anyone else.

Anthony Trollope died on December 7, 1882. Already a little outmoded before his death, the publication of his "Autobiography" just simply mutilated his reputation and, seemingly, forever. People stopped reading him; finally, the generation that had known and read and enjoyed his books as they were published passed away, and was followed by another that knew nothing and desired to know nothing of him; so that, in the late nineties in London, if one recommended Trollope, he was met by a stare and "Oh! that old Victorian who used to write at so . . .

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