2012-04-03

He Knew He Was Right

Some time ago, while visiting Matt in Oxford, we came back from his PhD celebrations and sat in his kitchen for a bit. One of his housemates was there and talked about Charles Dickens. I opined that Dickens was sentimental, melodramatic and at times lurid. She recommended Anthony Trollope. I remembered that but never got round to it. So when I was in the process of moving to Bath, I promised myself that I'd read Trollope when I finally moved in. Amazingly someone gave me Trollope's He Knew He Was Right, just at the time I was moving in.

It's a brilliantly told story, or really set of stories, as it's done in soap opera style. The main thread is about a man getting himself into a terrible mental state, over a period of many months. His psychological decline then leads to his physical decline. One of Trollope's achievements is to portray the step by step decline convincingly. The book is leavened with social sub-plots with engagements made and broken, swings between poverty and wealth, and the stubborn eccentricities of Miss Stanbury. Post boxes were introduced in Britain by the author, and Miss Stanbury took against them, complaining of the iron stumps, and saying that any decent person would walk to the post office. It reminded me of the attitude to wind turbines today.

A cautionary tale, really.

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