We note with sadness the death if American writer Maya Angelou at the age of 86, author of I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings. I imagine Trollope would have been astonished at her success as a black woman raised in Arkansas, given his insights into the country when he travelled there at around the time of the Civil War. Angelou once said that “if you spend all your time trying to be normal you will never realise how amazing you can be.” I think Trollope showed that there is also beauty to be found in the everyday.
Monthly Archives: May 2014
One can only speculate how the leaders of the two parties making up the coalition government are feeling today in the light of the European Election results they received over the bank holiday weekend. I suspect that the Prime Minister is the happier of the two, though I imagine Trollope would have felt more acutely the suffering of his Liberal Democrat Deputy. Nick Clegg is, after all, the nominal successor to the fictional Planteganet Palliser as head of the Liberal Party in office, though he has not quite achieved the top role. However, there is little doubt that the pain endured by the thin-skinned Palliser in The Prime Minister would have been all the greater had he been forced to undergo the media scrutiny that today’s politicians face.
Trollope wasn’t a great gardener. He might have used gardens and flowers as metaphors but the practical gardening wasn’t his thing. His interest in Chelsea might therefore be confined to the local politics and the thirsty voters whose support cost George Vavasor such a ruinous amount in Can You Forgive Her? Sadly, even an appearance in the guise of a gnome will not be possible for Trollope as they are once again banned from this year’s Flower Show.
I wonder what Trollope would have made of the European Election. Apart from his obvious amazement that Britain would be a part of Europe to participate in such an election at all, I think he might well have found parallels between his unhappy experience as a would-be Liberal candidate in the Beverley by-election in 1868 and that of his modern day Liberal Democrat successors. He describes in his Autobiography how his agent told him: “You won’t get in. I don’t suppose you really expect it… You will spend £1000 and lose the election. Then you will petition and spend another £1000… there will be a commission, and the borough will be disenfranchised. For a beginner… that will be a great success.” What might Nick Clegg regard as success? For a fictionalised account of proceedings you can also read Ralph The Heir.
Leaving Crime Fest 2014, I must mention the one physically menacing character that Trollope created, Aaron Trow. Appearing in a short story published in the second Tales of All Countries collection in 1863, he is an escaped convict who appears at the home of Anastasia Bergen and terrifies her into preparing him some food but then attacks her when she does not give him money as well. He is eventually killed in a dramatic struggle by Anastasia’s fiance, Caleb Morton.
There are also two short stories, The Man Who Kept His Money In A Box and Katchen’s Caprices in which boxes containing valuables go missing and may, or may not (you have to read them to find out), be stolen.
I don’t know whether the last few days’ posts have made the case for Trollope the crime writer, but I hope they have at least shown he was more than simply a recorder of domestic dramas.
The Trollope Society East Anglia group is meeting today in Aldeburgh to discuss The Three Clerks. The meeting is at 7:30pm.
Contact Ian Fyfe (email: email@example.com ) for details of the venue.