Monthly Archives: November 2015

Authors’ stylistic links

The above image is an extract from an analysis of authors styles. It shows links or similarities and “clusters” authors together who have such similarities. Trollope features in a cluster which places emphasis on female protagonists and includes, amongst others, Henry James and Louisa M Alcott. 

For more details go to:

I am grateful to Jim Fretz who spotted this and drew it to the attention of the Anthony Trollope Society facebook group. 


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The Duke’s Children: Chapters 66-70

I would question the first short restoration which appears in the opening paragraph of chapter sixty-six. Here we find that Lady Mary “did at last succeed in inducing Gerald to send [Tregear] one word of a message through his brother.” This is explicitly described as following the communication we have already seen in the earlier chapter and there is no subsequent mention of this mysterious “message”, which I think is most unlike Trollope. My suspicion is that this deletion was not part of the whole-scale deletions made after completion by Trollope to conform with the request of his publisher for a shorter three volume novel but was, in fact, made earlier because Trollope decided not to pursue the idea of a second communication (about which I feel sure he would have gone on to give more details).

Next comes a lengthier restoration which gives information about the Duke’s reasons for going to London at this point in the political calendar.

There then follow two restorations which are, to my mind, more important. The first describes how, when Mrs Finn begins the first “attack” on the Duke’s entrenched position that “the Duke only smiled. It was an expression of countenance which was peculiar to him and which she had known him long enough to understand.” The second describes how this smile could become “harder” if he felt the speaker was in the wrong morally – as distinct from disagreeing with him on a debatable point. These restorations make sense of a later comment which is otherwise lacking in context in the shorter edition in which the Duke which describes how “there was more tenderness in the frown than in the hard smile which he had hitherto worn.” Indeed, the “hard smile” came onto the Duke’s face not when Mrs Finn was speaking but when the Duke spoke in response about Mary’s sufferings. This gives a wholly different interpretation on the vital conversation.  In the full version it becomes clear that the Duke is receptive to what Mrs Finn  has to say whereas in the shorter version he appears to be resistant. This is borne out by a further restoration in which we learn that “there was doubt in his voice, though his words were meant to be very firm.”

Trollope also makes it clear that the Duke regards Mrs Finn’s intervention as one of her “acts of friendship which no efforts on my part can repay.” This sense of indebtedness is one with which the Duke is almost totally unfamiliar – it is usually the other way round in all his dealings with others – and this must weigh heavily with him as he considers the arguments for and against the position he has taken on the matter of his daughter’s lover.

Another not so subtle Trollopian hint as to the change in the Duke appears in another restoration – on the subject of Tregear’s first letter to the Duke and the latter’s frosty reply. Here we learn that “When writing it the Duke had not been as yet at all shaken in his opposition.” The clear implication is that the Duke has now been shaken in that opposition.

Silverbridge, meanwhile, performs his own U-turn in another brief restoration, which has been hinted at in earlier cuts now restored but here is made explicit when he announces to Tregear that “I shall go back to the other side. It is the only thing I can do for him.” So it is clear that Silverbridge’s decision to abandon Conservative philosophy for the Liberal fold of his father is made not on political but personal grounds. This shows the young man in a softer light but also suggests that he does not yet have strong political principles such as those which buttress the thinking of his father, or, indeed, Tregear.

Tregear’s letter to the Duke is itself subject to small cuts, now restored, in which Tregear speaks not only for himself but, asserts to the Duke, that he believes he is also speaking on behalf of the daughter.  This is a very subtle, and carefully phrased, approach which implies that Tregear is assuming to himself the prerogative, hitherto vested in the Duke as her father, to speak for the woman, as men did in the patriarchal Victorian society.

Chapter sixty-seven opens with a restored page and a half of details of how Silverbridge amused himself with hunting before returning to London for a very important meeting with his father over the political conundrum in which he has been placed by the devious Sir Timothy Beeswax.

There is a much shorter, and more significant, from the perspective of the Silverbridge/Boncasson storyline restoration shortly after this in which Silverbridge assures Isabel that, “”though he could not say that his father had at once assented to his views, he did not anticipate any prolonged opposition.” This prescience is more, I think, down to wishful thinking and a desire to reassure Isabel on the part of Silverbridge rather than being based on any deep insight into his father, given the evidence of the conversation he is relating in his letter to Isabel.

During what is possibly the most important political discussion of the novel between the father and son we see in two brief restorations how the Duke, in contrast to the lack of true insight Silverbridge frequently displays with reference to his father, has keen insight into the workings of his son’s mind on political matters at least, quickly recognising the ambiguity of his son about Beeswax and, therefore Conservative policies generally.  He almost cannot help himself using the rhetorical tricks he has learned from years debating in the House to lead his son through to what is, for both of them, a satisfactory conclusion.  Thus, when his son begins to express his doubts, he reminds the younger man that “You should at any rate hold the opinions which you are to recommend to others as just and proper.” Then at a crucial point in the discussion he puts his son on the spot about agreeing with Sir Timothy. “This was put in the form of a question and certainly required an answer; but Silverbridge had no answer ready.” This restoration is inserted between two sentences spoken by the Duke and creates the sense of a pause between them – which Silverbridge cannot fill and so is forced to reflect on why he is unable to do so – whereas in the shorter version there is no sense of the pause in the flow of words from the Duke, losing the true way in which the conversation turned.

The longer version goes on to conclude the chapter with nearly a page of further description of how the Duke, having won over his son, albeit that he almost consciously set out to avoid doing so, then refuses to help him write to Beeswax politely declining the honour of addressing the House as requested and a final humorous touch where Beeswax, in error, “can trace the Duke’s hand in every word of it”.

I love the little comment which Mrs Boncasson makes  to Silverbridge about her daughter in chapter sixty-eight that,”Mr Boncasson says she’ll turn out a literary spinster after all.” This is a close as Trollope gets to the sort of Dickensian caricature humour with which we are all so familiar.

There follows a restoration in which Trollope describes the physical sensations that Silverbridge experiences when looking at Isabel again after the period of enforced absence. He is “all in a quiver. The blood was tingling in his fingers’ ends…concsious of a certain longing, but unconscious of how he might best gratify it.” This lends an urgent, erotic charge to the meeting in the extended version which is significantly muted in the shorter, might one even suggest, censored version. As Trollope observes of Isabel’s failure to duck his embrace. “Had it been any other man she might, probably, have been quicker.”

As Isabel explains her position to Silverbridge, she emphasises, in a restoration, that for her “There can be no other marriage for me now, but yet I will not have that.” – meaning the prospect of a marriage in which she is not accepted by his family and friends. She is, as ever, more clear sighted then Silverbridge who blindly goes where his emotions lead him. Even when she asks him to leave at the end of what she has to say, he is in thrall to the physical attraction he feels “And he stretched out his arms to her.” She, of course, is able to resist this urge, indeed must resist as a good Victorian girl!

Even afterwards, “As he walked he hardly knew what he was doing in the fury of his love…Then as he thought of the ecstacy of that first embrace he plunged down Constitution Hill.” This is indeed a young man in the throes of a physical passion which is described with more vigour than might be expected in a novel for the family audience to which Trollope addressed himself. In fact, it is possible that he felt he had overstepped the mark in these phrases and excised them as a form of self-censorship.

We also learn in a final restoration as Silverbridge compares Isabel with Mabel that “He knew nothing of that early passion which had made his friend Tregear so dear to her”. Frank and Mabel must have been very discreet indeed for nothing of their romance to have come out given the way gossip of Tregear’s love for Lady Mary has reached the ears of Lady Chiltern (as we learn in passing in the restoration of the original beginning pages to the previous chapter) with whom he is only acquainted after his riding accident.

Chapter sixty-nine provides comic relief in the form of Dolly Longstaffe (the spelling of whose name is corrected – with the “e” throughout after having been mis-spelled in the shorter versions published previously). Dolly mentions in a short restoration that he has “been horribly cheated.” It is unclear to what this refers. It would be an unusual way to begin to express himself about what he takes to be Silverbridge’s cavalier dalliance with Isabel and so I cannot help but think that there is some explanation which needs to be restored or else this cut was deliberately made by Trollope because he changed his mind about some other instance which might be described as cheating. The other possibility is that Dolly is referring to the losses he sustained at cards at the same time as Gerald lost money.  However, this is the first suggestion that Percival actually cheated to win the money. The understanding we have had so far is that he was simply a more experienced and therefore better card player than Gerald and took advantage of his naive opponent.

There follow restorations in the conversation from which it is clear that Silverbridge shows growing maturity in biting his tongue – being “careful not to make a fool of himself…as [Isabel’s] name was in question he must be very careful.” Interestingly, like his father at the crisis of the last conversation with Mrs Finn, he too goes “and poked the fire, and altered the position of half-a-dozen things on the chimney-piece”. Clearly he has inherited certain mannerisms or behaviours from his father and is coming to resemble him more as he matures.

However, when he does finally lose his self-control, Silverbridge is very cutting. He says Dolly is talking “in this absurd way” and that Isabel “is most absolutely out of your reach.” In his passion, again like his father, he forgets how his words may wound the listener. His father has learned to rein in this tendency but still underestimates it on occasion. Silverbridge being less self aware than his father was “drawing himself into some unintended assumption of dignity.” In doing this, he so over-awes Dolly, even though the latter is by some years his senior, that Trollope ironically describes Silverbridge as “the object of all this worship” when Dolly immediately backs down and withdraws his suit on realising that Silverbridge’s intentions towards Isabel are serious.

After Dolly has gone, Silverbridge’s mind goes back to Isabel and, in a short restoration, the embrace with her described in the previous chapter – reminding readers of the physical attraction which is so strong between them.

Almost as an aside, Trollope notes that in spite of Silverbridge’s fears to the contrary, Dolly will be as good as his word and remain silent on the subject of the relationship with Isabel.  This is so typical of Trollope – to allow even an essentially comic character to have their moment of dignity in which to shine.

In the following chapter it is Silverbridge’s turn to be the butt of Trollope’s humour – a fine example of his ability to prick even the most dignified balloon. In a comic episode at the Boncasson lunch, he is in conversation with Lady Beeswax and, in his disgust at everyone apparently conspiring against his wish for a romantic moment alone with Isabel, proclaims he intends never to set foot in the Houses of Parliament.  Trollope then puns extravagantly with Lady Beeswax asking “You are not going to accept the Chilterns?” – the peculiar expression by which a Member of Parliament may resign (by accepting the Stewardship of the Chiltern Hundreds, the holder of which post is barred from sitting in the House – don’t ask, the origins are too obscure for words). To which Silverbridge responds “I have been staying with them and think I shall go back tomorrow.” (I cannot believe that Trollope set up this joke when creating the character of Lord Chiltern in Phineas Finn, five Palliser novels and eleven years earlier.)

There is a whole page restored of an authorial aside in which Trollope sends up the social nightmare of the lunchtime gathering during which he discloses a positively Dickensian capacity for drink required  at a typical Victorian gathering: “three or four glasses of champagne, and perhaps as many more of claret afterwards. Added to this there may be a little drop of cognac together with an opening and concluding modicum of sherry. And who is the worse for it? Who after it is conscious that either he himself or anyone else has drunk any wine?” Perhaps that should have simply ended: “Who after it is conscious?”

At the end of this lunch, it is clear that a trap is sprung and Silverbridge is left to face Isabel’s father. His discomfiture is self-evident in his confused body-language – perceptively observed by Trollope. “Silverbridge stood bolt upright, and then sat down again.” When Mr Boncasson repeats his daughter’s stipulation that she will only accept the assurance from the Duke of Omnium that she is an acceptable daughter-in-law, “Silverbridge put up his hand and passed it uneasily backwards and forwards across his head.  He did not feel so certain as to that absence of all prejudice on the part of his father.” The physical manifestation of his uncertainty is so cleverly introduced.

The chapter closes with Silverbridge concealing from Mr Boncasson that the reasons his father may think Silverbridge should not marry Isabel include the young man’s prior stated intention to propose to Lady Mabel. The poor boy, after apparently showing signs of impending greater maturity, is once again reduced to a “piteous” state.

















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Trollope at the Cambridge Literary Festival

The Cambridge Literary Festival marks the Trollope Bicentenary this weekend.  Dr. Simon Grennan, author of Dispossession, the graphic novel inspired by Trollope’s John Caldigate, and Professor Steve Amarnick, co-editor of Folio Society’s new edition of The Duke’s Children, will examine his reputation, from his surprising narrative range to his often audacious and strikingly humane treatment of controversial themes and characters.

The session will be chaired by Michael Prodger, Assistant Editor, New Statesman

The session will take place at 1pm in the Union Library in Cambridge.

To book your tickets go to:


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An American Senator for Christmas

Fear not. I am not venturing into the murky world of US politics. Instead I am highlighting an opportunity to join in another Big Read organised by the Anthony Trollope Society on Facebook to celebrate Trollope’s Bicentenary.

The American Senator is a standalone novel by Trollope but it does include characters from the Political series – notably Glencora Palliser.  Indeed, the Ufford and Rufford United hunt which features significantly in the novel, and in the mind of the said American Senator, the wonderfully named Elias Gotobed, reappears (as does the senator himself) for a mention in The Duke’s Children.

The group will be reading this novel, along with a short diversion over Christmas to dip into Christmas at Thompson Hall, starting from Saturday 12th December. The group is a truly worldwide gathering which shares its love of Trollope literally (and I use this term in its correct sense rather than metaphorically) 24/7. If Trollope were to have an empire it is indeed one on which the sun never sets.

If you would like to join the Big Read of The American Senator then go to the link below to find out more:


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Inspired by Dispossession?

If, like me, you were inspired by Simon Grennan’s re-imagining of Trollope’s novel John Caldigate as a graphic novel – published under the new title Dispossession, then you may wish to check out an opportunity to do the same yourself. The BBC is broadcasting Neil Gaiman’s story The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains as its Book at Bedtime and has invited listeners to illustrate what they hear and submit their pictures online. If you fancy yourself as a bit of an artist – or even if you don’t, but feel suitably inspired, why not have a go.

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Evening Standard Theatre Awards 2015

Last night saw the great and the good of the West End’s theatre gathering for the annual Evening Standard Awards.

Nicole Kidman won the Best Actress award for her role in Photograph 51 while James McAvoy won the Best Actor Award for his performance in The Ruling Class.

The Motherf**ker With The Hat by Stephen Adly Guirgis won Best Play.

For more details go to:



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The Duke’s Children: Chapters 61-65

We learn in a restored opening sentence to the second paragraph of chapter sixty-one that “Silverbridge was certainly afraid of his father.”  Trollope goes on to explain that this fear was more a kind of awe of his father but it is an interesting choice of word. Yet the reasons can be seen in a second restoration a little later when “The Duke also hesitated for a few moments before he went on with his cross-examination.” The father, even though he loves his son deeply, cannot help but assume the tone more appropriate for the chamber of his beloved House of Commons when speaking with him on weighty matters.

In a longer restoration we learn that though the father and son think alike on so many things – Silverbridge “agreed with his father on these premises” with reference to the requirement that the letter of the law should not be his guide to acceptable conduct but his own conscience and sense of duty – they differ on the conclusions they draw from that common understanding.

We also learn, almost as an aside, that “Silverbridge was in the habit of announcing his goings and comings in this sudden way and, as it seemed to his father, without any adequate reason”. The gulf of misunderstanding between them is clearly large and to a great extent the typical failure of one generation to understand the motivations of the next and of the latter to feel a need to explain them to the former when they do not. It is typical of Trollope, now a scene or conversation has fulfilled its function for the purposes of the plot, to allow it to meander away at a tangent in the way so many conversations do in real life.  In this, like his unerring focus on money as the root of all plot development, he is perhaps demonstrating a claim to be the first great realist of the Victorian era.

Intriguingly, Trollope makes a large cut of nearly a page in length in this chapter to remove entirely a scene between Silverbridge and Lady Mary in which he tells her of his engagement to Isabel and she acknowledges that she knew of it already from Isabel herself. He also tells her about the difficulties Gerald has got into and says “I shall emigrate to the States and set up there as a politician.” This may not be an altogether practical idea but at least he has a plan of some kind. The restoration shows there is greater closeness between brother and sister than might have been understood to exist by readers of the shorter version.

We also see the Duke in a short restoration observe to himself that his children “had proposed to him, the one a daughter-in-law, and the other a son-in-law, altogether against his taste; but he was beginning to be aware that his taste must yield to theirs.” We are also given more insight into his reasoning.  He believed that the aristocracy of which they were a part was essential so “that the democratic progress [might] safely be made which it had been the pride and business of his life to expedite.” Here we see the intersection of the personal and the political in the Duke. His children are going against both his personal inclination and his political doctrine and instincts.  No wonder it is so hard for him to acquiesce.

Professor Amarnick, I am pleased to note, has corrected in this edition, the error which occurs in the previously published editions of The Duke’s Children which perpetuate Trollope’s memory lapse during the writing of the novel and incorrectly name the woods about which the Duke has been in correspondence with Lord Chiltern as Trumpington Woods, whereas in Phineas Redux, in which that correspondence took place, they were Trumpeton Woods. He also corrects the erroneous reference in chapter sixty-two to the A. R. U. hunt to the proper title U. R. U. – it being the Ufford and Rufford United, featured with the unfortunate Captain Glomax in The American Senator.

There are few cuts of significance to the key characters or plot developments in chapter sixty-two which is the first of two devoted to the obligatory Trollopian hunting episode. However, on his first arrival at Harrington, Silverbridge defends his father when Lord Chiltern raises the matter of the neglected Trumpeton Woods, saying “My governor knows as much about hunting as I do of financial arrangements.” This defence, at once robust in its support of his father’s lack of concern for the hunting matters that are Chiltern’s whole life and also self-deprecating, is another example of Silverbridge maturing through the course of the novel.

In an amusing authorial aside, restored in this edition and perhaps speaking from personal experience, Trollope comments after Silverbridge is unseated at a fence and has to chase after his runaway horse that “perhaps of the many troubles which occur to hunting men there is nothing worse than the necessity of running across a ploughed field in top boots.”

We learn at the start of chapter sixty-three in the restored opening paragraphs that Silverbridge is mightily impressed by Mrs Spooner but “didn’t quite like having my horse caught by a woman.  Just at that moment I wished she had left me in the ploughed field.” Well thank goodness Isabel has nothing to fear from this new woman who is safely married and only interested in hunting.

We also are given fair warning of impending disaster when Tregear joins Silverbridge at the inn to take part in the hunting and jokes about his riding ability saying, “Now that I am a member of Parliament I am bound to preserve my life for the sake of my constituents.” This is quickly followed by another restoration in which Silverbridge lends him his favourite hunter with the words, “he has never brought me down yet.” A clearer sign that Tregear will come to grief was surely never given.

Following the accident there is a restoration which details how a carriage was brought from Harrington to convey the injured Tregear from the field providing continuity over what is otherwise a rather sudden and clumsy jump in the story to later in the evening with the injured man already tucked up in bed.

Silverbridge blames himself for the accident – for having crowded Tregear at the crucial moment – and there is a touching, and very Victorian, moment when Tregear gives his friend’s hand a reassuring squeeze as he sits wracked with guilt by his bed. Such gestures are as close to open displays of emotion between these closest of friends as their upbringing permits and the restoration of this scene adds to the reader’s insight into the strength of their friendship.

The chapter ends with a restoration in which it is revealed that after writing about Tregear’s accident to his sister, thereby tacitly acknowledging his acceptance of their relationship, and to Lady Mabel, Silverbridge writes to his father “chiefly with the purpose of letting the Duke know that he had sent tidings of the accident to his sister.” This serves two purposes.  Firstly it demonstrates the new-found maturity of Silverbridge in doing the correct thing from the perspective of his father; but secondly it is done after the fact and so sends a message to his father that he, as the eldest son, has felt it appropriate to acknowledge his sister’s relationship with Tregear by writing to her personally about the accident that has befallen him rather than having her hear about it second-hand. It is a subtle but telling gesture of support which would not be lost on the Duke.

There is a substantial restoration of nearly a full paragraph at the beginning of chapter sixty-four which explains why the Duke felt obliged to go to Gatherum Castle after failing to open it up over Christmas. This mentions that “he was now on more friendly terms than ever” with Mrs Finn. Trollope’s constant return to her across several novels as a secondary character who always behaves impeccably suggests to me that she may have been a personal favourite of his – he might even be a little in love with her.

There is also a brief additional sentence from Lady Mary when discussing her trust in her lover throughout their separation in which she says “I should despise myself if I doubted him for a moment.” This is a small indication from Trollope that she has the unrealistic expectations about relationships of an immature young woman when compared to the rather more world-weary acceptance of the way things turn out in real life of her more mature companion, Mrs Finn.

Mrs Finn’s cleverness is revealed when she persuades Lady Mary against immediately setting off to be with Tregear at Harrington.  How she does this is not made clear in the shorter version, but a restoration reveals that she does so by stating that “no one would so thoroughly disapprove of such a step as Frank Tregear himself”. There could be no more powerful argument with the young girl than this, as Mrs Finn well understands.

There are a number of short speeches by Lady Mary, admittedly made while in distress, which when restored show she is still lacking in maturity.  She comes over as petulant and perhaps Trollope felt that these could be cut so that she might not irritate his readers and would, therefore, retain their whole-hearted sympathy. Now, they serve to show that she is less than perfect under stress and that is a more realistic portrait. This makes it all the more powerful when, in a final restoration close to the end of the chapter, she takes her father’s hand and looks him full in the face – loving gestures from a daughter to her father – when he at last speaks well of Tregear. We see clearly the internal conflict between love she feels for both father and fiance that she is struggling to resolve.

I have to admire Gerald who, whether he learned from his brother’s example or not, did not prevaricate but, once he was under the same roof, immediately confessed his shortcomings to his father at the start of chapter sixty-five.  However, like him, I am somewhat confused by his father’s logic in a restored paragraph in which the Duke explains to his son that he believes “that a man who sits down to play cards with the distinct purpose of winning money, even though he plays fairly as the rules go, is to my thinking further removed from the condition of a true gentleman than is the man who cheats from his own.” Perhaps Trollope was wise to cut this for the original publication as the tortuous thought process by which the Duke arrives at this conclusion is obscure even on multiple readings. Better to be a thief and openly so than to masquerade as a gentleman while intending to use your skills as a card-sharp to take money from people who regard you as a friend.

The Duke then goes on to use a horse as an analogy for money. A tool to be used for a purpose. Again, the Duke’s thinking is obscure and, I think a little muddle-headed as a horse certainly does need “fostering” – caring for – if it is to serve its master.  Maybe this is best written off as the Duke not being a horseman. In which case, Trollope is being extraordinarily good at showing how one of the characters he has best-realised on the page can become incoherent in trying to express himself when he is caught up in a great emotional turmoil. If this was his intention, and re-reading it several times, this is certainly plausible, then Trollope is demonstrating true mastery of his craft, to the point perhaps, where it might even be lost on his readers.

Another restoration of a short paragraph has Gerald leave the room to obtain Lord Percival’s address because he is so overwhelmed by the power of his father’s emotional argument. “The poor lad was too crushed to write the words then, in his father’s presence. Whether he had understood all that had been said may be doubted; – but he felt the weight of it if he did not understand it.” This a small, but, I think, significant touch, indicative of Gerald’s deep bond with his father in spite of surface appearances. Indeed, Gerald strikes me thoughout this novel as being more mature, for his years, than Silverbridge and this little restoration is a case in point.

We also discover, in the longest restoration of more than half a page in this chapter, that on top of his personal travails, the Duke has political worries and is being asked by colleagues to lead the Liberal party’s attack in the House of Lords on the Tory administration. He could well do without the distraction of his children’s disobedience at this moment. And yet, in his mental turmoil, he is still able to think clearly enough about Tregear to recognise that “He was not an adventurer, as the Duke had at first thought.” It is as he gradually changes his mind by slow degrees such as this little step, now restored, that I believe the true greatness of the Duke’s character, and Trollope’s portrayal of it, comes out. It therefore pains me to read that the Duke feels “that the steel had been taken out of his heart by the troubles he had endured.”

The chapter concludes with a letter from Gerald to Silverbridge which, in a brief authorial comment, Trollope notes was written “in an unusually serious frame of mind”. As we enter the final phase of the book, we see at last that the boys are starting to grow up and to behave more as their father would wish them to do than perhaps the Duke, himself, realises at this point.
















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