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Autobiography of Anthony Trollope



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It's dogged as does it

I recently read Anthony Trollope's "Autobiography". I'm a big Trollope fan, and have probably read 25 of his novels, including the Palliser and Barchester series (6 novels in each). His autobiography is almost as much fun as his novels; he makes an excellent Trollope character. Some critics have suggested that the autobiography hurt Trollope's reputation as a novelist especially among the aesthetes. He certainly doesn't portray himself as am aesthete, nourishing his artistic temper. Instead, he wrote many of his novels while working full-time for the Post Office. How? He would wake up at 5:00 am, write for three hours, and then go to work. At one point, he compares himself to a shoe maker. He doesn't understand why novelists finish one novel, and then don't start their next for months. Dos a cobbler finishmaking one shoe, and then relax for a couple of months before he starts on his next? It never seems to occur to Trollope that some novelists may not have an endless fountain of stories bubbling constantly to the surface. IN fact, Trollope insists that he doesn't much care for plots and that he didn't know how his stories would end when he started writing them. He cared about his characters (as those of us who love his novels are doubtless well aware). He has one chapter on writing novels. He insists that no "episodes" should be added that do not move the story forward and that although dialogue is the most agreeable part of a novel, it should always be relevant to the story. He rates Thackeray as the best of his contemporaries, lauding both his style and his realistic characters. He rates Eliot second, saying she sometimes lacks "ease" and strives too hard for philosophical points at the expense of character development. He admires Dickens' success, but claims his style is "jerky and ungrammatical" and that many of his characters are "invented puppets with a chain" instead of realistic characters. Trollope certainly seems obsessed with the business side of novel-writing. He lists all of his novels and how much money they brought him (Autobiography was published posthumously, but written 6 or 7 years before Trollope died, so he wrote 5 or 10 novels hat are not included on the list). His writing earned him 70,000 pounds, which, by modern American standards, is probably around $3.5 million. One story: Trollope was eating dinner one evening when two men at the next table began talking about "The Last Chronicle of Barset". "Mrs. Proudie shows up in every Trollope novel" said one. "If I couldn't invent new characters, I wouldn't write novels." Trollope introduced himself as Mrs. Proudie's creator, and thanked the gentlemen for their critique. "In honor of your just complaint," Trollope said, "I will go home and kill Mrs. Proudie tomorrow." And he did, in one of the great scenes in English fiction. Trollope's childhood made Dickens' youth look like a picnic. He did well in the end, though. In "Last Chrinicle" and old brick maker advises the Rev. Mr. Crawley that "it's dogged as does it." Trollope was dogged indeed.

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