This question will always provoke a debate whenever two Trollopians get together.
Of course it is not always easy to dissociate some of the Barchester or Political (Palliser) novels from the series which contains them. While they are self-contained, they do benefit from their position in a larger canvas. Thus they may benefit from the “halo” effect of the overall series.
I’ve been prodded into thinking about this question by a post on the excellent Interesting Literature site which asks the same question about the novels of Thomas Hardy.
Now I would actually disagree with their conclusion but not the opening statement that when coming up with a top ten list for an author of a mere fourteen novels (at least one and arguably two of which are juvenilia) it is a simple matter to throw out one or two and the debate comes down to one of the order of the top ten.
In Trollope’s case, though, the question is altogether more vexed. We have 48 novels to consider. Perhaps it would make it more interesting to eliminate from consideration the Barchester and Political novels (I am already pained at the exit of Lizzie Eustace) and consider only the standalone novels.
What do you think?