You are hereNewspapers 1970-1979 / Anthony Trollope 2
Anthony Trollope 2
By Tom Soter
from COLUMBIA DAILY SPECTATOR, April 13, 1978
The Pallisers, by Anthony Trollope; abridged by Michael Hardwick (Berkeley-Medallion)
Mr. Scarborough’s Family, Is He Popenjoy?, Dr. Wortle's School, An Autobiography, The Belton Estate, all by Anthony Trollope (Oxford)
North America. by Anthony Trollope, edited by Robert Mason (Penguin)
Anthony Trollope, the Victorian novelist who produced 47 mammoth novels in a period under thirty years, once ruled out Reader's Digest-like condensations as UIlethical. "I am at a loss," he said in a letter to a publisher, "to know how such a task could be performed. I could burn the original manuscript, no doubt, and write another hook on the same story; but how two words out of six are to be withdrawn from a written novel I cannot conceive."
Trollope would be very upset by what Berkley-Medallion books has done to his series of "Palliser" of political novels. With the popularity of the BBC-TV adaptations of the books, broadcast on public television recentl, Berkley has seen fit to issue a one-volume condensation of the six novels, abridged by Michael Hardwick, a man who has made a career grubbing off other people's efforts (he is also responsible for "Guides" to Jane Austen, Bernard Shaw, Trollope and Sherlock Holmes – essentially books of plot summaries). As it seems practically impossible to condense over 6,000 pages into a 400-page volume without losing the essence of the author, Hardwick and Berkley should be more than sheepish about this thing. The TV series was bad enough, but this sort of literary bastardization is even worse.
Berkley has also decided not to reprint the volumes in their original form, as well. At $2.50 a piece, however, these editions are pretty shoddy productions, with typeface that looks like poor mimeograph reproduction and jacket copy that is more suited to Harold Robbins than the Victorian novelist ("A Surprisingly Sexy Novel!"). The reader would do better paying $2.50 more for Oxford's superb set.
Oxford also has a nice series of mini-hardcovers called "The World's Classics." Imported from England and available at Scribner's on Fifth Avenue or through the mail from Oxford, this line laudably makes available many obscure works at not-so-reasonable prices. Some of the better Trollope titles they have are Mr. Scarborough’s Family, one of the novelist's last and most brilliant works, showing how Trollope might have dealt with Dickensian characters (whom he normally abhorred as "caricatures and not characters"); Is He Popenjoy?, a perceptive study of the everyday and the women's movement; Dr. Wortle's School, a look at prejudice; An Autobiography, a look at Trollope; and The Belton Estate, for fans of Jane Austen.
Finally, a brief footnote: Penguin, which is a bit more scholarly than Berkley, has also issued an abridgement of a Trollope work. Theirs is North America, the author's 1862 observations of the United States during a. Civil War visit. It's not a very good book, but has its curiosity value (he thought secession was the only answer to the to the war, for instance, since the North and South were culturally so different) and editor Robert Mason has cut just enough to keep the narrative's interest without making it a skeleton.