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Trollope and James

(35 Posts)
Bags Sat 20-Jul-13 21:20:48

I downloaded a free kindle copy of The Warden by Anthony Trollope and I've read (re-read since I started this book before but gave up) the first chapter.

My memory of Henry James's style in Portrait of a Lady was that James's writing (at least in that book) is several orders of magnitude more elegant. So I read the first few pages Portrait again too.

I was right. It is much more elegant prose.

Beats me how other people don't seem to see it. However, I shall persevere with The Warden for a while in the hope that the story isn't as stodgy as the prose since thereseem to be so many Trollope fans on GN and I wouldn't like to miss out on a good story.


Greatnan Sat 20-Jul-13 22:16:59

You sent me back to my two copies, Bags, and I remain of the same opinion. I love Trollope's irony and find James too verbose. Each to his own!

feetlebaum Sat 20-Jul-13 22:56:18

I love all six of the Barchester novels - and other Trollope books as well. The Way We Live Now is interesting, as Trollope based it on the same real-life character, and his eventual end, as Dickens's Mr Merdle in Little Dorrit.

j08 Sat 20-Jul-13 23:03:56

Just read Game of Thrones. You won't look back.

j08 Sat 20-Jul-13 23:15:10

Why do you need it to be elegant? Surely it's the stories that count. I read Trollope in my twenties and thoroughly enjoyed them. But I wouldn't want to read it now. Same with Jane Austen. You read that stuff when you are young.

Greatnan Sat 20-Jul-13 23:51:39

Jingle - wash your mouth out! How dare you say one word against Jane Austen! grin And I don't just read her for her plots, which I know off by heart, but for her lovely ironic turn of phrase. What a tragedy that she died so young.
Most novelists vary somewhat in the quality of their writing, and certainly Northanger Abbey is lightweight compared to P & P, but still very amusing. Thomas Hardy wrote some stinkers, but rose to great heights with Tess.

Ariadne Sun 21-Jul-13 02:19:34

Greatnan I agree with you about Trollope and James. And I love Dickens and Hardy too. But Jane Austen is still my favourite!

henetha Sun 21-Jul-13 11:11:09

re Thomas Hardy... His 'Mayor of Casterbridge' is wonderful.
Dickens takes some beating though... what genius.

Ariadne Sun 21-Jul-13 11:17:07

I agree, henetha - but you do have to be careful with "Jude the Obscure" - I find it leads to real melancholy. "The worthy encompassed by the inevitable" was Hardy's definition of tragedy, and in no other book is it more true. Well, except for "Tess"!

annodomini Sun 21-Jul-13 11:23:34

Ariadne, I couldn't agree more. I like Trollope because he is a great story teller; his characters are well filled out: the sympathetic ones have their drawbacks and the 'baddies' often have a superficially attractive side. His ecclesiastical and political themes resonate with us even now. His style of presentation is discursive. He may well meander off into a discussion of a political or ecclesiastical matter. If you aren't interested, you can, if you wish, 'skip' these without detracting much from the basic story and I'm sure some readers do this. James's early novels such as The Portrait of a Lady and Washington Square are, in my opinion, his most accessible works. The style of his later novels - the Ambassadors, for example - is so convoluted in sentence structure that, as a student, I found reading them to be a tortuous (maybe also torturous) task. I don't feel like repeating the experience now.

j08 Sun 21-Jul-13 11:27:53

I know Greatnan. I agree with really about Jane Austen. It's just so hard to find time for all of the old and the new. Especially since Grannsnet was invented!

j08 Sun 21-Jul-13 11:29:26

Jude the Obscure was the only one of TH' s that I couldn't finish. Tried several times.

j08 Sun 21-Jul-13 11:30:57

Anyone tried Thomas Hardy' s poems? The sure road to misery! grin

Galen Sun 21-Jul-13 11:33:03

Hate Hardy. Read Tess when I was young, made me depressed.

Galen Sun 21-Jul-13 11:35:20

Adore Jane Austen!

Galen Sun 21-Jul-13 11:35:41

And Mercedes Lackey.

Galen Sun 21-Jul-13 11:38:43

And Anne Mcaffry

Galen Sun 21-Jul-13 11:39:10

And Donna Leon

Greatnan Sun 21-Jul-13 12:17:27

Nobody should read Hardy if they want cheering up! My daughter is always suggesting new writers to me, including African or Asian writers. I have to admit that I tend to stick to the tried and tested English classics but when I go on holiday I often find a book I enjoy that somebody has left behind.
I found 'I know why the caged bird sings' by Maya Angelou very moving, even though it also filled me with rage.

annodomini Sun 21-Jul-13 13:01:20

J08 Hardy regarded himself as a poet who wrote novels for a living. I enjoyed the poems he wrote after the death of his first wife, Emma from whom he had been long estranged. They are full of nostalgia but I don't find them depressing.

Tegan Sun 21-Jul-13 14:01:06

I used to live in the part of Cornwall where Hardy met his first wife, and would walk along the Valency valley knowing that I was retreading his footseps. I love Tess of the D'Urbevilles, and also Jude the Obscure [[especially as, at one time in my life I did feel very deeply for a second cousin of mine who I'd never met before, so understood a lot of the emotions thrown around in the book]. However, I'm with j on this one, as I can't seem to read heavy stuff as I get older, but hope that when I retire I may be able to get my head round heavier stuff again [I've never read James or Thackeray]. And I've yet to finish Middlemarch blush.

FlicketyB Sun 21-Jul-13 20:10:39

Love Hardy's poetry, 'Beeny Cliff' is one of my favourite poems. I have never succeeded in reading any of his novels. Thoughts of suicide (mine) occur far too soon when attempting any of them.

Trollope I love. I am re reading the Barchester novels, but on my Kindle. The way a Kindle forces you to read every sentence, every word means that I am reading those boring off-piste bits and author interjections that I slid over before and realising now how key they are in fleshing out characters and highlighting plots. His previously interminable detailed description of Mr Slope in Barchester Towers is a triumph of characterisation when actually read in full.

I have recently read the Palliser novels and watched the mid 70s serialisation of them, which does not appear dated and is an excellent adaption of the books.

In my opinion his best novel is The Belton Estate. I would almost describe it as a feminist novel featuring a heroine trying to make her own decisions and shape her own life when all the cards, including the financial cards, are held by men.

I have been reading Jane Austen's novels for 60 years. She writes such deceptively simple plots but she builds them up in wafer thin layers like millefeuille pastry and every time I read her it is like reading another novel because I seem to land on a different layer and read a different novel.

Bags Mon 22-Jul-13 12:32:47

From this day on I'm blaming Trollope for people adopting 'less' where 'fewer' is correct and 'less' is incorrect. "No less than five of the twelve..." Tut, tut!

JessM Mon 22-Jul-13 12:47:40

Oh lord bags perish the thought.
The Way we Live Now was my favourite Trollope.
Great TV adaptation.

j08 Mon 22-Jul-13 13:09:09

anno the poems are beautiful, as is all of T H's work. But so sad.

Tegan I stuck at Middlemarch on and off for two years before giving up.