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Thread: The sociopath next door?

  1. #1
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    The sociopath next door?

    Well, I finished the book last week. What made the book difficult was the number of characters appearing in it, which leaves the reader unsure about who should claim our attention. This is the way reality is. People come in and out of our daily lives. Nevertheless, the sheer number of persons involved makes it difficult to go much deeper into the psyche of any of them. Actually, none of the characters gets as deep a treatment as I would have wished. In favor of Trollope's vision are his inspiring statements scattered along the novel. For example, I found the perfect explanation of sociopathic reasoning, the reasoning precisely of Melmotte when his world is falling apart, on page 623: "No idea ever crossed his mind of what might have been the result had he lived the life of an honest man. Though he was inquiring into himself as closely as he could, he never even told himself that he had been dishonest. Fraud and dishonesty had been the very principle of his life, and had so become a part of his blood and bones that even in this extremity of his misery he made no question within himself as to his right judgement in regard to them." The sociopath has been treated in other famous novels, as the title character of Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier, and in Persuasion by Jane Austin with the character of William Walter Elliot. In each of these two novels the sociopath is not discovered as such until the end of the story. This has a dramatic effect which reminds us of real life: the con-artist only later on is confirmed as such. With the character of Melmotte, we judge him as a rogue, but there always remains some measure of a doubt in our minds because his personality is never treated in depth. We wonder, as the story proceeds, what his motives might be. Without knowing motives, it's difficult to judge the value of actions. For example, in the novel, The Betrothed, by Alessandro Manzoni, it is only at the end when we realize our "sociopath" actually is endowed with the soul of a tender child, more to be pitied than to be condemned. One of the greatest values of reading Trollope's novels is that we gain experience of life, of "the way we live" (i.e., the way people always are) without having to live 300 years or more to gain such wisdom on our own. How deeply grateful we can be to Anthony Trollope.

  2. #2
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    Why does Orley Farm not appear?

    Dear Friends:

    I'm a quarter of the way through Orley Farm. Why does this particular novel not appear on our list of Trollope's works? After all, Trollope says that this novel was considered his best: "Most of those among my friends who talk to me now about my novels and are competent to form an opinion on the subject, say that this is the best I have written."

  3. #3
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    Final opinion

    Orley Farm is an excellent study of deeper human motivations. I highly recommend it. It was one of the best books I've ever read.

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