Trollope pp 199-205 | Cite as

He Was a Knowing Psychologist

  • Henry James


When, a few months ago, Anthony Trollope laid down his pen for the last time, it was a sign of the complete extinction of that group of admirable writers who, in England, during the preceding half century, had done so much to elevate the art of the novelist. The author of The Warden, of Barchester Towers, of Framley Parsonage, does not, to our mind, stand on the very same level as Dickens, Thackeray and George Eliot; for his talent was of a quality less fine than theirs. But he belonged to the same family — he had as much to tell us about English life; he was strong, genial and abundant. He published too much; the writing of novels had ended by becoming, with him, a perceptibly mechanical process. Dickens was prolific, Thackeray produced with a freedom for which we are constantly grateful; but we feel that these writers had their periods of gestation. They took more time to look at their subject; relatively (for today there is not much leisure, at best, for those who undertake to entertain a hungry public), they were able to wait for inspiration. Trollope’s fecundity was prodigious; there was no limit to the work he was ready to do. It is not unjust to say that he sacrificed quality to quantity. Abundance, certainly, is in itself a great merit; almost all the greatest writers have been abundant.


Complete Extinction Great Writer English Prose Easy Road Complete Appreciation 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1987

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  • Henry James

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