Anthony Trollope bibliography - Wikipedia
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His ostensible reason is flimsy at best. Furthermore the slightly concealed love affair makes Miss Weston's and her uncle's anger toward the narrator reasonable. When John Lennon was asked about the song Norwegian Wood, he said that he was trying to write about an affair without his wife knowing about it.
I doubt if Cynthia Lennon was fooled for a second. I also doubt if Trollope put one over on his wife either. I can't help wondering how Trollope would have reacted to such forthright female independence. The narrator of "A Ride Across Palestine," with his attraction to female helplessness, would have been appalled, but Trollope is ironic about the narrator. Since I probably like the narrator less than Trollope does, I find it impossible to decide how harshly Trollope wants us to judge him. It does seem to me that Trollope has serious reservations about the young man.
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I think this story is an unholy mess and that Trollope never decided what it was going to be about. I have a hard time thinking of it as a homoerotic fantasy, since the narrator's feelings for Smith are hardly disguised. Trollope seems to want the reader to figure out fairly early on that Smith is a woman -- I realized it the first time that the narrator used words like "wife" and "mother" in connection with Smith's behavior, and then realized that there were several obvious clues prior to that.
Not really very subtle. In terms of gender, I found this to be a story that tries to erase women, first disguising the only woman in the foreground as a man, then eliminating the existence of the narrator's wife and family, and finally -- and most importantly -- refusing to engage with the woman's story. This is what I disliked most about the narrator and the tale and Trollope, for writing it this way. What I really want to hear about in all of this is the woman.
Who is she? What has happened to her? Why has she fled from her uncle? What has he done to her? Is there a forced marriage in the offing, or what? What fate will she suffer. The narrator doesn't tell us and isn't interested. The only thing he cares about is that he has been embarrassed and placed in an awkward position.
He confesses to enough feeling for this woman that he would be uncomfortable if his wife were to have a window into his mind; yet he doesn't raise a finger to help or to protect her. Doesn't show the least curiosity about her circumstances. Thinks only of himself. I ask myself, "what is the point of the tale? Or that he is self-consciously working inside a tradition of stories in which gender is obscured by dress -- one thinks immediately of Collins' NO NAME Of course, this story pre-dates Collins' by 2 years.
In his intro to the OUP edition, Sutherland calls the story "a powerful performance" though acknowledging that it is "marred" by the "theatrical" entrance of the uncle at the end. That hardly solves the aesthetic. For good or ill, the appearance of the uncle is what defines the tale. Here's an interesting exercise for the list: Eliminate the scene with the uncle and pretend that the story is unfinished.
Pretend that the story was unfinished at Trollope's death and that he got Smith and Jones as far as the quay where they are waiting to sail in the morning. Now, ask yourself, "What is this story about? I'm serious about this. I have an answer to Jo Ann's question, "What is the story about? As I suggested I think the way to read this story is as emphatically about the narrator and as a displaced reflection of a love affair Trollope almost had or had with another woman; I incline to the almost had for this actual situation of this story is a near love affair--and this is repeated in "Journey to Panama".
But how do we make sense of the story as a story, as a work of art and not a fragment broken off from a man's autobiography disguised? Well first I would refer to James Kincaid's book on Trollope where he argues a central factor in the complex moods, psychological depths, and popularity of Trollope's novels may be found in his many different uses of the narrator throughout his novels: as with Fielding and Thackeray, it is this presence in the stories which we enjoy; it is he who guides, cajoles, amuses, and points the ironies for us.
In his short stories, Trollope takes this further: he plays with an unreliable narrator who cannot only not see the events that are occurring in front of him which anyone with half a brain and alert to the most obvious hints would , but remains blind to his own lack of understanding of the emotions of the people around him, and most importantly, of his own moral failings. This I take it is the point of "John Bull on the Guadilquavir".
Pomfret is good-natured and well-meaning, but as a young man he was an ass. In this story we have the older Pomfret tell the story from the point of view of the younger and from present time. I think the story does not succeed because in order to keep the irony up, the narrator is not allowed to see inside his own mistakes so the older man cannot tell us the man he and Johnson humiliate is a count until much later; he cannot analyze himself when young or the comedy is lost. This makes us read the older man as still dense, and we are then hard put to believe Maria could be happy with this man now though it's clear we are to see that the young Maria saw further into the heart of the the insensitive foolishly romantic clown to find some solid gold therein.
This story could not be told from Maria's point of view; its moral pattern would be lost. Another story which uses point of view in a comic and ironic way if "The Man Who Kept His Money in a Box"; if told from another point of view the story would not exist. The puzzle is in the mind of the narrator. To turn to "A Ride Across Palestine. We have in fact the story Jo Ann wishes Trollope had written, and the story my student who gave the talk inferred from the narrator by unconsciously transposing the perspective and concentrating on Miss Weston.
But that is not the central story Trollope wanted to tell. It is the periferal story, the one on the margines. The point of using an ironic perspective a naive narrator or one who gets things wrong is this allows the writer to tell more than one story at a time. There is the story we infer from the sidelines of the narrator's eye, and there is the narrator's story which we see better than the narrator. In this case Trollope is quietly is coming to terms with his own experience of a near liaison--or a dream he had of one, hard to say--his blindness, his guilt, his queasiness about his behavior.
He is also presenting some highly sensual material about how he was physically drawn to the flesh of this woman-man, and the only way he could do this is to present her in disguise. Trollope also instinctively went for the piquant in this story. The whole experience is slightly disturbing. Here is Trollope or his narrator in the land in which the whole story of Christianity is said to have occurred. And what is it? The Jordan is a mud puddle. We get odd jokes using Bible phrases: "Moab is my wash-pot and over Edom will I cast out my shoe!
I would also take the opening apparently careless reference to Christ as a deliberate reference to the narrator's and Trollope's own experience in this story:. Early on the following morning I intended to start, of course, on horseback, for the Dead Sea, ithe banks of Jordan, Jericho, and those mountains of wilderness through which it is supposed that our Savior wandered forty days when the Devil tempted him" p It seems hard to call Mr Smith "the Devil," but this is a story of how the narrator was tempted and was in spirit and almost in the flesh unfaithful to his wife.
Another interesting aspect of the narrators in Trollope's short stories is how he tells us to call the narrator a certain name without affirming that is the narrator's name. Because he wants the ambiguity, to hint the narrator is also a version of himself. The question remains whether the story is also about bisexuality or homosexuality. John Mize says this leapt to mind:. A large number of students in 2 classes of 22 a piece read the story in the above way two years ago. Jo Ann says she wasn't fooled for a minute; from the beginning she knew we had a woman dressed as a man.
I have to admit the first time I read this story the ending came as a surprize. A XII, pp. Also see Taylor, Helen XIII, pp. XIV, pp. For Trollope's discussion of this debate, see An Autobiography. Works by Anthony Trollope. Can You Forgive Her? Co-founder, The Fortnightly Review.
Mrs. General Talboys
Anthony Trollope's "A Ride Across Palestine" (also entitled "The Banks of the Jordan"
He Knew He Was Right. The Vicar of Bullhampton. Sir Harry Hotspur of Humblethwaite. Harry Heathcote of Gangoil. Serialized in the Australasian.