A Nose-picker of the Highest Order

I am indebted to Friedrich Waidacher of Judenburg in Austria who found the following sketch by Theodor Fontane in a volume entitled Earth is the only Home Man has Got.

“One evening I met Mr. Trollope, a relative of the famous authoress of the same name. He was a wonderful person, most interesting for me, a real comedy character à la Mengler in Finally He Did It Well. Furthermore he is so naturally human, that he appears not only ridiculous but also pleasant. The English usually sit stiff as dolls, they never relax readily in company – especially not in women’s company. Mr Trollope, however, seemed to have abandoned any such constraints, he scratched wherever he itched and occasionally scratched, with evident pleasure, parts of his body that are scarcely decent. He also poked around in his teeth and was a nose-picker of the highest order. I was delighted with all this because I thought that in England this art was completely unknown.”

I am also indebted to Christian Kirsch, who took time out from his holiday in the UK to correct the translation.



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5 responses to “A Nose-picker of the Highest Order

  1. Glenn Shipway

    Mark, would this be Anthony or Thomas Adolphus?

  2. stephan.scholz@uni-oldenburg.de

    Dear Mark,
    the quotation is an extract from the diary of Theodor Fontane of 1852, 10th June. As you can read there, it is no description of Anthony Trollope, but of a nameless cousin of his mother Frances!
    (Theodor Fontane: Tagebücher. 1852. 1855-1858, hg. v. Charlotte Jolles, Berlin 1994, S. 25: „Am Abend Mr. Trollope kennen gelernt, einen Cousin der bekannten Schriftstellerin gleichen Namens.” )
    Fontane met this cousin of Frances Trollope in a guest house in London, 1 Tavistock Square, where he lived during his stay in London from May to Sept. 1852.
    As far as I know, no hint exists that Fontane ever met Anthony Trollope personally.
    I think, this misunderstanding should be corrected, because it shows a wrong picture of Anthony Trollope.
    Stephan Scholz, Oldenburg (Germany)

    • Stephan, thanks for your new information. I took the view when translating the original text that it was possible that Fontane may have been mstaken about the relationship and so used the all encompassing term “relative”. Now we have a date fir the encounter we can check up Anthony’s whereabouts on that date and see if he was in London. More research for me. 🙂

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