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Books And Persons: Being Comments On A Past Epoch 1908-1911 - Trollope's Methods Post by :HereOn3rdRock Category :Nonfictions Author :Arnold Bennett Date :May 2012 Read :1710

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Books And Persons: Being Comments On A Past Epoch 1908-1911 - Trollope's Methods

(_23 Sep. '09_)

I am reminded of Anthony Trollope and a recent article on him, in the _Times_, which was somewhat below the high level of the _Times literary criticism. Said the _Times_: "Anthony Trollope died in the December of 1882, and in the following year a fatal, perhaps an irreparable, blow to his reputation was struck by the publication of his autobiography." The conceit of a blow which in addition to being fatal is perhaps also irreparable is diverting. But that is not my point. What the _Times objects to in the Autobiography is the revelation of the clock-work methods by which Trollope wrote his novels. It appears that this horrid secret ought to have been for ever concealed. "Fatal admission!" exclaims the _Times_. Fatal fiddlesticks! Trollope said much more than the _Times quotes. He confessed that he wrote with a watch in front of him, and obliged himself to produce 250 words every quarter of an hour. And what then? How can the confession affect his reputation? His reputation rests on the value of his novels, and not in the least on the manner in which he chose to write them. And his reputation is secure. Moreover, there is no reason why great literature should not be produced to time, with a watch on the desk. Persons who chatter about the necessity of awaiting inspirational hypersthenia don't know what the business of being an artist is. They have only read about it sentimentally. The whole argument is preposterous, and withal extraordinarily Victorian. And even assuming that the truth _would deal a fatal blow, etc., is that a reason for hiding it? Another strange sentence is this: "The wonder is, not that Trollope's novels are 'readable,' but that, _being readable, they are yet so closely packed with that true realism without which any picture of life is lifeless." (My italics.) I ask myself what quality, in the opinion of the _Times writer, chiefly makes for readableness.

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