200 years of Anthony Trollope

Anthony-trollopeRohan Maitzen at Open Letters Monthly:

Readers, however, have always cherished Trollope’s presentation of a world which seemed, in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s words, “as real as if some giant had hewn a great lump out of the earth and put it under a glass case, with its inhabitants going about their daily business, and not suspecting they were made a show of.” Of his fictional county of Barset, Trollope himself declared that to him, it had “been a real county, and its city a real city, and the spires and towers have been before my eyes, and the voices of the people are known to my ears, and the pavement of the city ways are familiar to my footsteps.” He felt most strongly about his characters:

I have wandered alone among the rocks and woods crying at their grief, laughing at their absurdities, and thoroughly enjoying their joy. I have been impregnated with my own creations till it has been my only excitement to sit with the pen in my hand and drive my team before me at as quick a pace as I could make them travel.

As a novelist, he sets out to engage us in the same way—his narrator “seizes” us, as he says, “affectionately by the arm,” and in his companionable company we meet people who become, over the course of many pages and volumes, as vivid and distinct to us as our friends and family. Like their creator, we enter vicariously into their pleasures and sorrows, puzzle over their difficulties, scoff at their folly, and rejoice in their happiness.

more here.