ANTHONY TROLLOPE by Victoria Glendinning


A Biography
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 English literary biographer Glendinning (Rebecca West, 1987, etc.) claims here that she has ``never been so happy researching and writing any book''--a pleasure she conveys to the reader in this first life of Trollope by a woman, and first popular biography of the recent, primarily scholarly, Trollope revival (e.g., N. John Hall's Trollope, 1991--not reviewed). The chasm between Trollope's life and art--between the bluff, vulgar, tactless civil servant and the elegant novels depicting aristocratic life and manners--is the major problem for Trollope biographers. Hall claimed that the social persona was as much an invention as the literary one, leaving the real Trollope yet to be discovered. Glendinning approaches the problem by emphasizing ``family dynamics,'' with Trollope cultivating an array of voices to cope with the demands of his domestic life, including a dominating and unnurturing mother (a prolific writer herself from whom Trollope acquired his herculean habits of composition); a hapless father; sickly sisters, sons, and nieces; a brother for whom Glendinning confesses her hostility; Trollope's nearly invisible wife, Rose, who privately had an enormous influence on him; and the many modern assertive women whom Trollope met but didn't know how to deal with. Glendinning concludes that Trollope is both the man and his art: a chameleon capable of many moods and voices, his novels reflecting and influencing the political and sexual lives of his contemporaries--politicians, writers, country gentry--with whom he associated. The author is particularly strong on the trivia that comprised the style of Trollope's life: clothes, digestion, holidays, dancing, flirting, gardens, illness, male friendship--all of which are copiously illustrated from Trollope's own prose. For those who read Trollope for pleasure or from curiosity, in comfortable chairs without taking notes. (Fifty photographs.)

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-394-58268-3
Page count: 560pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1st, 1992


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