Trollope Revises Trollope

  • Andrew Wright


Trollope’s productive energy and enormous accomplishment, his admittedly obsessive drive to write every day in or out of season, offer — sometimes all too plausibly — the temptation to find the result insufficiently finished. To be sure, it is easy enough to discover in his novels a certain untidiness in plot-making, the assignment of different names to a single character, imperfect consistency in geography: Frank Robbins and John W. Clark are among the many readers of Trollope who have remarked on such matters.2 Nor did Trollope ever undertake so comprehensive a revision of his work as did Henry James for the New York Edition (and that James relished the opportunity is made splendidly plain in the prefaces and in his letters). Of course, Trollope was never granted such an opportunity, but there is little evidence that he would have grasped the nettle with such forcefulness as did James. So much must be granted, but these facts sometimes conceal the attentive seriousness which Trollope devoted to his work, especially when these facts are coupled with the somewhat disingenuous disclaimers of the Autobiography on the doctrine of inspiration, together with his notorious comparison of the craft of fiction to those of the tallow-chandler and the cobbler.


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  1. 2.
    Frank Robbins, ‘Chronology and History in Trollope’s Barset and Parliamentary Novels’, Nineteenth-Century Fiction, V (1951) 303–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. John W. Clark, The Language and Style of Anthony Trollope (London: André Deutsch, 1975).Google Scholar
  3. 11.
    David Skilton, Anthony Trollope and His Contemporaries (London: Longman, 1972).Google Scholar
  4. 18.
    Michael Sadleir, Trollope: A Commentary, 3rd edn (London: Constable, 1945) p. 389.Google Scholar

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© Andrew Wright 1982

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  • Andrew Wright

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