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Old 05-17-2013, 01:46 PM   #31
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Among other countries, England is a class-conscious society in these days.
" A man should not hove his Christian name used by every Tom and Dick without his sanction'.(p.14).
And, as Bookpossum and Bookworm- girl point out; the position of women is precarious; they seem to have few rights and have to carve their own place in society. When miss Trefoil writes to Lord Rufford, the narrator remarks:
' There was a great deal in this letter which was not true. But then such ladies as Miss Trefoil can never afford to tell the truth'.(p.198).

It is the old world against the modern, relatively young United States of America, personalized in the spunky American senator Gotobed.
The Senator critizises the workings of the British society and that angers Mr. Morton into saying: 'When I see Americans loafing about in the bar-room of an hotel, I'm lost in amazement'. Gotobed good-humored replies that 'there is not a man you see who couldn't give a reason for his being there. He has an object in view, though perhaps it may be no better than to rob his neighbour'.(p.69).

I am about halfway through (225 of 508) and looking forward to the reappearance of the Senator again. I am totally in the book now; following with interest the developments on the romantic side and feeling for Larry Twentyman who cries over a girl. On the same time I admire that girl for defying her family and not living up to the expectations of society. The narrator seems to like this as well.

Last edited by desertblues; 05-17-2013 at 04:45 PM. Reason: grammar, what else? and haste...
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Old 05-17-2013, 03:58 PM   #32
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I concur about the plight of women at the time and place of this story, at least as how Trollope portrays it. When you come right down to it marriage for Arabella, and to some extent also for Mary, is really little removed from prostitution.

I am also really enjoying the observations of Senator Gotobed about the class system that was present in England at the time [circa 1875] of the setting of this story. Of course the reality is at this time America was already entering the Gilded Age with wealth and income inequality every bit as severe as in England and with American 'robber barons' eager to marry their sons and daughters off to European nobility.

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Originally Posted by Bookpossum View Post

But of course in the 19th century there were plenty of working women, and the work they and the men of the "working classes" had to do was pretty back-breaking and soul-destroying. But at least they were able to get on with their lives, such as they were, rather than finding themselves an eligible bachelor to keep them in the manner to which they would like to be accustomed.

The women are hunting for husbands while the men are hunting the foxes.
Yes, in this book Trollope is giving us a picture of the opportunities available to and the expectations for women in the upper class and those slightly below this. The plight of the majority of the lower class was to have to work just to survive, and that includes women and children. That is one difference I find between the stories I have read by Trollope and those by Dickens in that Dickens portrays the entire economic class, even perhaps emphasizing the lower class. I believe that the comparison to Jane Austen is probably also well taken, I just have not read enough Jane Austen to comment.

I am certainly learning a lot about fox “hunting.” Probably more than I ever cared to know about it. What a peculiar activity that is.

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Old 05-17-2013, 07:13 PM   #33
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I think Oscar Wilde nailed it in calling fox-hunting "The unspeakable in pursuit of the inedible".
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Old 05-19-2013, 10:16 AM   #34
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page 400 now. I'm beginning to feel sorry for a few of the men: senator Gotobed for often putting his foot wrong; blundering through this class-conscious society with it's hundred thousand unwritten rules. Then John Morton and Larry Twentyman who both have heartaches about the women. And Lord Rufford who is pursecuted into marrying it seems; Arabella is the hunter and it looks as though she gets help from her divers relatives.
It may be that the women have to fend for themselves and that their position often is insecure. Yet, I get the impression that the women in this book do a good job of getting what they want, by whatever means.

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Old 05-21-2013, 04:04 PM   #35
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Finished.
I will let the book 'sink in' a bit, digest it or/and wait for more opinions. In the meanwhile, I let stand what I said in the previous post (about the women, I mean......)
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Old 05-21-2013, 04:43 PM   #36
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I finished too! My initial impression is that I liked the way it wrapped up the loose ends, and Arabella isn't entirely heartless after all! The conclusion with the Senator's speech was good (especially his final comments on the fox hunting episode) in that he acknowledged a fondness for the British people and hospitality at the same time pointing out their "irrational" faults. I liked the parallel storylines and contrasts in this book between the different couples and the parent-child relationships and even the local neighborhood versus aristocratic society circles. I will definitely read other books by Trollope in the future.
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:11 PM   #37
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So I finished this and was struck by how Trollope provided for a happy ending for everyone. Or maybe happy isn't the word, say instead appropriate in Trollpe's view. In the romance department everyone is matched up with a partner from their correct social class. All the peasants are shown to have been worthy of being at the bottom of the social and economic order. Scrobby is sentenced to a year of hard labor in prison for the crime of poisoning a fox, and thought to have gotten off lightly. Apparently the only way that a fox may be killed is through pursuit by landed gentry on horseback trampling over whose ever property they care to. Goarly abandons Dillsborough in disgrace. Reginald Morton is assimilated to the proper lifestyle of an English squire, giving up all previous useful endeavors for a life of fox hunting and other amusements that a man in his position should occupy his time with, once he inherits the Bragton estate. That at least is one interpretation.

On the other hand maybe Trollope was making an entirely different point, at least for some matters. He never really repudiates Senator Gotobed's astute observations about English society. Lord Rufford is certainly presented as a sorry excuse for a man, one whose only worth is the wealth and title that he inherited. But then again maybe that is my American view of that character, and that Trollope thought him the very model of a country squire.

I did enjoy this enough that I will certainly read more Trollope in the future.
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:36 AM   #38
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So here is something that is bothering me, perhaps as much as others were bothered by the " beating up the wine to freshen it up." That is 'tanti.' This is used only once by Reginald Morton to defend the practice of fox hunting by wealthy landowners.

Quote:
"People must eat and wear clothes."
"And practically they must be amused. They ignore the great doctrine of 'tanti.'"
"I never heard of it."
"You shall, dear, some day. It is the doctrine by which you should regulate everything you do and every word you utter. Now do you and Kate put on your hats and we'll walk to the bridge."
A Google search for what this might mean turns up these possibilities:
  • A Hindu caste traditionally devoted to cloth weaving
  • A Hungarian word for Aunt derived from Latin
  • A town in Argentina

None of the above would make any sense in the context of The American Senator. So is this some British English term?
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:18 PM   #39
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That word perplexed me too. Since it is also used in the chapter title, then I think you have to deduce its meaning from the context of the message of that chapter. I found this suggestion from a google search. Seems plausible to me.

http://www.trollope-apollo.com/?p=2776

Quote:
As Reginald and Mary discuss the various social obligations they will have to take on, Reginald suggests to Mary that she should €œregulate€ all that she does according to the great doctrine of €˜tanti. Tanti is the genitive singular of the Latin adjective tantus, which means so much.€ Tanti is being utilized as a genitive of value, which means of so much worth.€ The word in this form can also be translated as worthwhile. Social customs and expectations can be worth performing even if they are not strictly necessary.

The chapter is entitled Is It Tanti? This could be understood as the question Mary should ask herself about each of her actions as she implements Reginald's doctrine. It could also be a question asked about fox-hunting and its social function. In fact, Reginald introduces the idea of tanti to Mary while they are talking about fox-hunting: Reginald maintains that opponents of the practice do not understand that recreation is as important as the material necessities of life. Trollope closes this chapter by asserting that the day'€™s sport certainly had been €˜tanti,€ answering his own question. [KS & RR 2012

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Old 05-23-2013, 02:08 PM   #40
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@Bookworm-girl: this explanation of the use of 'tanti' sounds right. An interesting find.

About fox hunting; it is forbidden as such since 2004. That must have been a minor revolution in some parts of England
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunting_Act_2004
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Old 05-23-2013, 02:12 PM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bookworm_Girl View Post
That word perplexed me too. Since it is also used in the chapter title, then I think you have to deduce its meaning from the context of the message of that chapter. I found this suggestion from a google search. Seems plausible to me.

http://www.trollope-apollo.com/?p=2776
Thanks for that. It does make sense actually. Especially coupled with this from the Wikipedia entry for Trollope:

Quote:
. . .

Move to Ireland


In 1841, an opportunity to escape offered itself. A postal surveyor's clerk in central Ireland was reported as being incompetent and in need of replacement. The position was not regarded as a desirable one at all; but Trollope, in debt and in trouble at his office, volunteered for it; and his supervisor, William Maberly, eager to be rid of him, appointed him to the position.[7]

Trollope based himself in Banagher, County Offaly, with his work consisting largely of inspection tours in Connacht. Although he had arrived with a bad character from London, his new supervisor resolved to judge him on his merits; by Trollope's account, within a year he had the reputation of a valuable public servant.[8] His salary and travel allowance went much farther in Ireland than they had in London, and he found himself enjoying a measure of prosperity.[7] He took up fox hunting, which he pursued enthusiastically for the next three decades. His professional role as a post-office surveyor brought him into contact with Irish people, and he found them pleasant company: "The Irish people did not murder me, nor did they even break my head. I soon found them to be good-humoured, cleverthe working classes very much more intelligent than those of Englandeconomical and hospitable."[8]

At the watering place of Kingstown, Trollope met Rose Heseltine,[8] the daughter of a Rotherham bank manager.[6] They became engaged when he had been in Ireland for a year; because of Trollope's debts and her lack of a fortune, they were unable to marry until 1844. Soon after their marriage, Trollope transferred to another postal district in the south of Ireland, and the family moved to Clonmel.[8]
. . .
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Old 05-23-2013, 02:31 PM   #42
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@Bookworm-girl: this explanation of the use of 'tanti' sounds right. An interesting find.

About fox hunting; it is forbidden as such since 2004. That must have been a minor revolution in some parts of England
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunting_Act_2004
I recall reading about that with some interest when the debate over the law was going on. I may not recollect accurately but I seem to recall that The Royals (including I think Prince Charles) expressed opposition to the ban.

Just as an odd fact, a number of years after wolves were reintroduced into Wisconsin they were recently taken off of the protected species list and now hunters can hunt them. The idea of wolves in Wisconsin has always been controversial. Some people appreciate the reintroduction as part of restoring some areas to a state closer to historically natural, while others would like to see wolves once more entirely eliminated. The legislature and governor elected in 2010 was sympathetic to the latter view and so when the law allowing wolf hunting was passed it included the use of bait, traps, dogs, and night hunting with lights; things generally not allowed for sport hunting of other animals.
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Old 05-24-2013, 12:56 AM   #43
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I have just finished also, and I enjoyed it very much.

I think Trollope cleverly uses Senator Gotobed to criticise many of the institutions of the day, which clearly deserved criticism - the electoral boroughs, the purchase of commissions in the Army so that any incompetent ninny could lead his men to disaster because he or his father had bought his officer rank, the allocation of "livings" in the church, and so on.

At the same time, the Senator is a wonderful example of what one of our lecturers in Psychology told us about culture: as an outsider you can observe a culture but you cannot understand it, while a person inside the culture cannot see it - it is simply "the way we do things here". (I'm using culture to mean the way a group lives and works, not in reference to artistic pursuits.)

Witty and most enjoyable. Thanks for nominating it, issybird.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:11 PM   #44
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I'm still working my way through the book. I might add that the posts are really excellent and add enormously to my enjoyment.
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Old 05-26-2013, 10:47 AM   #45
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I thought this was a good read. Like many of you, I thought it a cross between Jane Austen and Dickens with its subtle humor and focus on marriage among the gentry combined with more wide-ranging social commentary in the person of the senator.

Despite a gap of about sixty years, almost they could have been Jane Austen heroines. Except for the trains! When you think of what a major event the picnic to Box Hill was for Emma, and compare it to Mary Masterss train trip with Reginaldthe world is opening up for the women, even if slowly. And Arabellas day trip to confront Rufford demonstrated an agency impossible for an Austen girl. Tragic and humiliating, but powerful for all that.

I dont think anyone had any doubt that things would work out well for Mary. Arabellas story was so much more compelling and even brutal, compared to the world of Austen, and no assurance of a happy ending, as I hoped that things would work out with John Morton, alas, poor Paragon. The depiction of Arabellas acrimonious relationship with her mother was a level of reality beyond the Bennet girls frustration with their mother.

I liked Arabella. I liked her courage, her ability to move on. And yet, I could spare a thought for Lady Augustus and even the second Mrs. Masters, cruel though she was to Mary. The older women knew, in their bones, that things might not work out, that the attitude of a young girl of a world well lost for love, was nothing compared to decades of wondering how you were going to live. The last portrait of Lady Augustus, leaving alone for London and an unknown future, was chilling, although I suspect the Duke had sufficient family feeling that she wouldnt starve, quite. She was callous and conniving, but we can understand her attitude that selling her daughter for 8,000 pounds was a consolation prize worth having. As the old joke goes, they had established what Arabella was, the rest was just negotiating price. Once there was no hope of marriage, Lady Augustus felt compelled to take what she could get. What that sum would have meant to her!

Poor Arabella. It sounded as if it was going to be rocky times for a while with Mr. Green. I can only hope that he returned eventually to be a power in the Foreign Office in a more salubrious spot, where Arabella could shine.

Even as an American, I liked Gotobed, which isnt always the case with Americans as portrayed by English writers. Trollope got him right, and he was fair, not what I expected going into the story, given his mothers attitude. Gotobed was rude in the obtuse and not malevolent sense, and motivated by generosity and a willingness to call things as he saw him. I was charmed that Trollope used him as his agent to criticize English society.

So thats a bunch of scattershot impressions. Im glad that overall people seemed to enjoy the book.
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