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A daily record of what I'm thinking about what I'm reading

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Monday, September 19, 2016

A comic conclusion, but not for all - in Barchester Towers

Nearing the end of Trollope's Barchester Towers, and it's interesting how this novel that started out to be about the politics of the 19th-century Anglican church (yawn) has evolved into a ... love story: which of the 3 eligible men will marry the widow Eleanor Bold? Well, Trollope in his peculiar way told us in an authorial aside hundreds of pages back that neither Slope nor Bertie Stanhope will marry her - so we've known all along it will be Arabin - yet Trollope still manages to get some great scenes out of this courtship drama: Eleanor telling Slope to go to hell and slapping him hard across the face; Bertie in a pathetic conversation telling Eleanor that his sister wants him to marry her so as to save the Stanhope family finances (he has never worked a day in his life nor does he intend to), and finally Eleanor summoned to meet with her some-time rival, the flirtatious Siognora Neroni, who surprisingly tells her not to be an idiot and to marry Arabin, that he truly loves her. So, yes, we're moving toward a traditional comic novel happy ending - for some, not for all, as in Shakespeare's comedies - with a lot of dark matter left in this universe: it appears that Harding will once again be turned away from the house and position he longs for, warden on the Barchester "hospital"; and it seems that Slope though frustrated in love is still on the rise: Anthony Powell must have thought of Slope when he created Widmerpoole in his Dance to the Music of Time, and I wonder if Faulkner thought of him also in creating the Snopes clan?

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