Fiction That Is True: Trollope and Politics

  • John Halperin


Of all his literary creations, Trollope loved the Pallisers most. In his Autobiography (written mostly 1875–6; published posthumously 1883) he describes the string of characters who inhabit the Palliser novels as “the best I ever made” and the novels in which they appear as “the best work of my life” (p. 155). He always had a special tenderness for these novels. And it is true that they represent the peak of his achievement — his widest canvas, his broadest range, his surest touch. The Barset novels, entertaining as they are, lean heavily upon caricature and farce. As tragedy is of higher seriousness than comedy, so the Palliser novels rather than the novels of Barchester represent Trollope’s magnum opus.


Political Corruption Liberal Party Conservative Party Literary Creation Political Character 
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  1. 1.
    See his notice of R. H. Hutton’s Studies in Parliament in the Fortnightly Review, 4(1 April 1866)Google Scholar
  2. And his letter to the Examiner (6 April 1950, written from Ireland) defending Russell’s Irish policy. See also N. John Hall, “Trollope Reading Aloud: An Unpublished Record,” N&Q (March 1975), 117–18. And — on the comment of the Dublin Review — see Chapter 4, n. 4.Google Scholar
  3. 18.
    Donald Southgate, The Passing of the Whigs, 1832–1886 (London, 1962), p. 77. On Trollope’s reference in the passage from Phineas Redux quoted above in the text: Fox and Sheridan led the formation in 1794 — after George Ill’s break-up of the supremacy of the old Whig Party — of what was called the New Whig Party, which after 1820 developed into the Liberal party.Google Scholar
  4. 23.
    North America, p. 55; and Daniel Becquemont, “Politics in Literature, 1874–1875: The Way We Live Now and Beauchamp’s Career,” in Politics in Literature in the Nineteenth Century, ed. Janie Teissedon (Lille and Paris, 1974), p. 141.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Halperin 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Halperin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern CaliforniaUSA

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