Trollopian Realism

  • David Skilton


Any description of Trollopian realism must account for a central paradox in his novels: that of all novels they are the most ‘social’, in the sense of depending on the interaction of sets of persons, and of creating a supremely convincing illusion of a functioning fictional community; and yet that an examination of any of the novels will show how very significant a proportion of the book concerns the situation of a single character, alone, so that such portions must either be irrelevant to the rest of the novel, or much of the action must take place at the level of the individual and not society. A second paradox emerges during an examination of the first, and that is that the compelling illusion of reality is produced not by a specially intimate connection with the world the reader inhabits, but by a technique of including as many of the rules of operation of the fictional world as possible in the novel itself, to obviate the necessity of constant and disturbing reference to a world outside it. There is in fact less need for reference from the world of a Trollope novel to the real world, than from much other fiction.


Internal Debate Fictional World Private Level Natural Justice Vivid Mental Picture 
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  1. 7.
    See H. S. Davies, ‘Trollope and his style’, Review of English Literature i, Oct. 1960, 73–85.Google Scholar

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1981

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  • David Skilton

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