Anthony Trollope’s Late Style by Dr Frederik Van Dam, research fellow at the University of Leuven, Belgium
Published by Edinburgh University Press
Henry James famously dismissed the works which constitute Anthony Trollope’s ultimate compositions for their ‘fatal dryness of texture’ and ‘mechanical movement’. Taking its cue from James’s observations while challenging his assessment, a new study by Frederik van Dam examines the full stylistic range of the novels and biographies which Trollope wrote upon his return from Australia in 1872. It charts the many literary forms which Trollope explored in his final decade, from allegory, satire, and parody, through poignancy, the classics, and paraphrasis, to character, bathos, and fantasy. Blending literary criticism with intellectual history and Frankfurt School theory, Van Dam shows how Trollope’s creation of this new, impersonal aesthetic was driven by a desire to intervene in contemporary debates on topics such suburban sociability and economics, colonialism and national sovereignty, educational and legal reforms. Van Dam argues that if we want to understand the development of Trollope’s political views, we must pay close attention to the literary language in which these views were performed. The image of Trollope emerging from this analysis is that of a stylistic visionary and a political radical.
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