Archive for September, 2009

The naive idealistic hopeful Muslim girl about to marry her Hindi beloved (from Bombay)

Bhuvan’s heroic stand as batter (from Lagaan)

Dear Friends,

The last week or so I’ve returned to working on my book on Austen movies. One of the Sense and Sensibility movies is a Tamil free adaptation, Rajiv Menon’s I Have Found It (2000), and, as I have done with the three I’ve written up thus far (1971 BBC, writer Denis Constanduros; 1981 BBC, writer Alexander Baron; and 1995 Miramax, writer Emma Thompson , all called Sense and Sensibility), I’ve been watching and/or studying and taking notes on, reading about, related movies.

In this case it has meant first reading about Indian movies: there’s more about Bollywood (Bombay movies) than Tamil (South Asian), but the two kinds are subspecies of Indian movies. I’ve two books and a group of essays. And then re-watching or watching for the first time those Indian films I can rent or buy which have English subtitles. Now most of these are movies which have been hits in the US or UK or Europe — or why gain subtitles? Indeed those I’ve watched thus far have been uniformly superb: two years ago I made it my business to see Deepa Mehta’s Water (2005), and this past fall, one made partly for the US market, Mira Nair’s Mississippi Masala, 1991 (and so not an Indian film [see commnt to blog], but an American one with Indian motifs, rather like Nair’s Namesake (2006) which I’m going to show my classes in a week or so); Sastosh Sivan’s Before the Rains (2007); a “classic” by Satyajit Ray, Charulata (1964, Englished as The Lonely Wife, based on a 19th century Indian novel); and now one by the director Mani Ratnam (with Menon as cinematographer), Bombay (1995), and one Menon said he admired tremendously, Ashutosh Gowariker’s Lagaan (2001).

I’d say that in comparison to Lagaan and Bombay, the two Austen movies I’m going to write about, Gurinder Chadha’s Bride and Prejudice and Menon’s I have Found It are weak (especially the essentially silly B&P) or simply an ordinary if in some ways compelling human drama and love story, with the important subtext of strong women, drawn from Austen’s S&S (IHFI). B&P may also be said to be a remarkable sustained blend of superbly done satiric and joyful song and dance (so I will try to see her Bend It Like Beckham [2002] this coming weekend too).

So that’s the context, how I’ve come to sit here at times enthralled, quivering, and occasionally bored, mostly at moments in <em>Guru (2007), also a Ratnam-Menon product: it has some tedious filler dance-and-song and doesn’t become riveting until we realize the hero’s in-laws are plotting to destroy his financial empire and him. Indian movies are all so long that there is a comparison between them and a long novel. You must sit and watch, sometimes over the course of a day and a half before you’ve done (as I have other things to do so am interrupted).

For tonight I want to write about Lagaan and Bombay mostly, with some mention of Guru. In the case of Lagaan (which means “Tax”), I became so involved in the cricket game between the dastardly cruel English and the exploited, impoverished, brave and noble Indian villagers, that I was in an intense fever of anxiety lest the Indians lose that game of cricket, so much was depending on it. I literally ran home to finish the movie and couldn’t bear watching while the other side (the dastardly English) scored points. I cannot remember ever caring whether one team won a game over another, and here I was gripped, gripped, my emotions at full pitch.

The Indian team between training sessions

The way it was done was to make a lot I could care about ride on the game. Here’s the situation:

It hasn’t rained for two years in Champaner, a village in sweltering central India, but Captain Russell (Paul Blackthorne, who is a Billy Zane doppelgänger), the commander of the local British regiment, isn’t about to give the parched villagers a break. He makes a bet with Bhuvan (Aamir Khan), the most spirited of the villagers (and of course, the handsomest), but only because he believes it’s a sure thing: If the villagers can beat the British regiment in a cricket match, he’ll cancel the land tax for two years; if the British win, the villagers will have to pay three times the normal, unreasonable amount.

Captain Russell feels confident because the villagers have absolutely no idea of how cricket is played. But Bhuvan believes that it is close enough to a game called “gilli-danda” they all played as children, and with the clandestine assistance of the captain’s sister, Elizabeth (Rachel Shelley), who’s appalled by her brother’s cruelty, Bhuvan begins putting together a team (by Dave Kehr; see the rest of this review).

Russell is a cruel sneering man. We see him kick, beat, and humiliate the villagers; he lives in the lap of luxury, and has decided to do this to tillitate himself with these people’s misery. Slowly each of the villager’s personalities emerges, and our hero Bhuvan is shown to be great-souled: he takes an untouchable, a Sikh, an old half-crazy despised man onto his team, because he needs them and they are willing. A curious fillip to the European viewer is Russell’s sister not only teaches the men how to play the game, she comes to love Bhuvan.

Rachel Shelley as Elizabeth (so the white woman watching could have someone to identify with too)

Everything is done to up the ante and create excitement and despair. Russell pays one of the villagers on the team to be a spy and to try to throw the game. The umpires tend to side with the English. There is wry humor in the obtuse words and gestures of the English watching the game; we find them hilarious all the while feeling they act so superciliously and sure of themselves because they are so powerful. The songs and dances are rousing and stir the heart with desire for them to win.

It is a kind of fantasy. I suppose the Indians of old really would have liked to be able to beat the British out by a single duel of this sort, and what better than this upper-class game.

Our team (David) beating the empire (Goliath)

Gowariker, writer, director had a brilliant idea and executed it with extraordinary passion and panache. Jim tells me the hero, Aamir Khan, went on to star in a film about the 1857 Mutiny, The Rising.


Shekar seeking his children frantically

Bombay had me quivering with horror and distress. It started very slowly as I watched a Hindu young man fall in love from afar by merely seeing the face of a Muslim young girl through her black burka. After much effort, he manages to reach her, and she falls in love with him at first sight too. Both sets of parents are bitterly against any match: in an article on the Austen movies, Linda Troost and Sayre Greenberg argued that the Indian adaptations uniformly make family and friends kind and a haven in the Austen films because the culture (it was implied) would not criticize family. Well, maybe the two Austen films show this, but in this film and Guru, family members are profoundly cruel, adversarial (the hero’s father resents paying for his son’s education), vengeful (the heroine’s father plans to marry her off in ten days, a plan which precipitates her courageous flight to Bombay and immediate marriage).

The open-faced Muslim bride (Manisha Koirala)

The somewhat older experienced Hindu groom (Arvind Swamy)

What is so riveting, compelling, horrifying is after a few years of living together peacefully in Bombay (after initially being rejected by their neighbors for their intermarriage), Bombay erupts in bloody riots where Muslims and Hindus proceed to beat, stone, hack, and in whatever horrific way possible (they set one another on fire) murder the person of the other religion, destroy each another’s property (by fire mostly), bomb buses, cars, whatever is in their way.

What stays in my mind is the frantic cruelty of the way the crowds of people seek to destroy individuals and houses: they pour gasoline over people’s heads, over cars, over houses, and then set them on fire. A kind of wild half-crazed exhilaration and maddened despair might be said to be at the core of this, but poverty is not enough to account for such horrors. I know in Europe people accused of heresy were burnt at the stake. What is it when religion gets involved? People who kill themselves as an example to others during ethnic and social and other wars also set themselves on fire. How are we to understand this terrifying impulse?

Here is this story told in detail from another blog:

It’s a beautifully photographed (by Rajiv Menon) story of personal and urban conflict when Hindu and Muslim encounter each other. On the small scale, Arvind Swamy (the most un-herolike hero I’ve ever seen) plays Shekar, the journalist son of a conservative Hindu father, who falls in love at first sighting of Shaila Bano, a Muslim girl who lives in the same TamilNad town, and has an equally staunch father. Manisha is gorgeous in this movie and the lengths her suitor goes to are perfectly understandable.

Facing parental opposition, the two flee to Bombay so they can marry and live in peace. Things go fine for a few years, though there are hints of what’s to come when Shaila is buying vegetables one day and a group of saffron-robed men pass by, chanting slogans. Shekar works as a journalist while Shaila tends to their twin sons, then Ayodya happens, and the city is torn apart by two spurts of rioting between Hindus and Muslims, in December and then January.

During the first riot, the boys are terrorized by a group of men who douse them in gasoline and keep asking “Are you Hindu or Muslim? Answer!” while fumbling to light a match. The sons narrowly escape, but the effects are profound. In a brief and wrenching scene, one twin, Kamal, riding on his grandfather’s shoulders as they head home from a temple visit, reacts instinctively when seeing another small mob, reaching down with a small hand to wipe the ash off the older man’s forehead while doing the same to his own. In the January riots, as the family flees a burning home, the boys are separated from their parents and then from each other. One is taken in by a hijra, the other by a Muslim woman (see rest of blog for more on the historical reality of the mid-1990s)

So our hero and heroine get caught up in these crazed city-wide conflagrations twice, and in both instances are separated from their children.

The terrified children

The second time destroys their fathers and the heroine’s mother who have at long last come to visit and been reconciled to some extent after the first visit. They are burnt to death. We see them frantically running everywhere to find their children, believing them dead, and the final moment when they do (improbably I admit) find the children after the children have re-discovered one another is such an intense relief I really shivered.

Of course the point of this film is to make a strong case against religious prejudice and its dire destructiveness. The film does neglect to show the conflict is at its core economic: over jobs and power. It simply blames “politicians” for stirring up hatred without explaining why this is possible so swiftly. The intense poverty of so many people.


Guru is a noteworthy film too, and by its end I was very involved. It tells the story of a lower or middle class young man who fights, claws, and struggles his way up from a poverty-striken life in a village to the luxurious life of a wealthy manufacturing businessman who runs a huge corporation. To move from his lowly place to such a high one, he must break laws, cut corners, do deals; this film might be said to justify CEOs, but since it’s set in India, the context is different, and he is seen in the film as a savior, as doing his best against out-moded laws and customs which keep the wealth and power in the hands of a few.

Along the way he marries a beautiful village girl, Sujatha (played by the ubiquitous Aishwarya Rai who also has twins — apparently a desideratum — two for the price of one?) and becomes involved with her family, and there’s the rub. He rouses the intense jealousy and hatred of his brother-in-law, Shyam (Madhavan) whose ego he bruises, and this brother-in-law and his wife’s grandfather set out to expose and ruin him — and they almost do. A side story is of his wife’s crippled sister who the brother-in-law has married almost out of spite, but who he loves intensely and gives a few years of happiness before she dies of multiple sclerosis. The actress who plays this role, Meenu (Vidya Balan) delivers a touching performance. I surmize we are to feel this villain hastened her death with his love-making.

Abhishek Bachcan as Guru

The performance of Abhishek Bachchan as Guru (full name Gurukant K. Desai) makes this film, and some of the minor characters he meets in business, e.g., the man who comes with him from Turkey and tries to commit suicide when the brother-in-law pumps information out of him. Many moving moments which are made probable come out of everyday life in a fiercely competitive locally-controlled (by bosses, by people in power) economy.

There’s a good blog on this movie (with a summary) and its music and cast too.

Rai in one of her dance routines

Guru may feel more relevant to our world today — the way Bombay is, than Lagaan, although we may take the side of Michael Moore in Capitalism: A Love Story, here greed is seen as part of a healthy dream to improve the lives of all. Guru does not drain everyone else, but wants to take them with him.

In this sort of idealism we do see the weakness of this film in comparison to the other two; similarly the two Austen films have positions and stories that won’t stand close scrutiny by a realist. And yet what they do add are strong women’s roles, women transgressing to some extent (B&P) and going out on their own for jobs. In most of the above films women are wives, mothers, daughters, sisters, and their big jobs are to have and care for children, cook, and wait for the man to return and be loyal to him. Period.

No one who has seen the above three films (or the others I’ve cited) can ever say that the vast world of cinema created and enjoyed by Indian culture is in any way inferior to that of the European countries (say French), middle eastern (say Turkey or the ex-communist ones) or English speaking ones (Hollywood, the UK). Some parts of their audience may be naive but so are parts of the audiences al over the world, and these movie-makers are not, and their “movie grammar” (to refer to all their techniques) when it gets going can be more powerful than the European-Hollywood. They know how to root their stories in primal emotions and build on these.

They also have a different set or differently-nuanced archetypes for men and women at the heart of the stories. I surmize Hollywood has not been able to make in-roads into Indian theatres because of a fundamental difference in the stereotypical males we find in the West, say the tough, hard, carapace, loner American, Robert de Niro, and the tough (always there for men), but loving, tender, sensual interactive male, Gerard Depardieu. I have to think more about the women in western movies, but at first blush I have not seen anything like femme fatales or independent “spunky” women in these films. I’ve read of prostitute-types, but this is sheerly in the area of sex where the Indian film may differ. Not that that’s not important 🙂

Enough for now,


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“We have calmly voted slaughter and merchandized destruction . . . things should be called by their proper names . . . : When we pay our army and our navy estimates, let us set down — so much for killing, so much for maiming, so much for making widows and orphans, so much for bringing famine upon a district, so much for corrupting citizens and subjects into spies and traitors, so much for ruining industrious tradesmen and making bankrupts (of that species of distress at least, we can form some idea) . . .” — Anna Barbauld (see her Evenings at Home)

Rosalba Carriera (Venetian painter), a young girl (mid-18th century)

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I finished the eighth revision of my review of William McCarthy’s splendid — moving and original — biography of Anna Letitia Barbauld (1743-1825), subtitled “voice of the Enlightenment.” I sent it off to the editor of the Intelligencer who hopes to get it into the coming issue. When it is published, I’ll put it online in my Reviewer’s Corner.

(Update: it is now published! See a review of William McCarthy’s Anna Barbauld: Voice of the Enlightenment).

I had originally also intended just to put my summaries of the chapters as I went along into a coherent blog, but now as I look at them, they seem inadequate to express the power (and a couple of flaws) in this book, to say nothing of not getting across the depth and generosity of this woman’s character, her strong intelligence and enormous learning, and the courage and compassion with which she lived her life. Even in the inadequate drawing from the side, you can see the sensitivity of her face, the anxious sweetness and calm of her eyes.

As she was not an “in” person and had little money for portraits, like Austen’s, her portrait leaves something to be desired

So instead I rewrote some of what I had wrote about McCarthy’s book as a short life. I preface it with two poems and put two commentaries on her literary criticism and biographies into two comments on the blog.

Of this first (late) poem by Barbauld, my friend, Nick, wrote:

I really like this poem. I think a lot of its strength comes from the contrast provided by the final stanza with the prisoner and the poverty-stricken inhabitant of the ‘dreary fen’ (which made me think of Crabbe yet again – I’m becoming obsessive! – although they are not always dreary in his verse).

But the opening celebratory stanzas are a joy too. A real fire is lovely – we don’t have one and there is no question that radiators in no way provide any substitute – except for heat I suppose – and what’s more the boiler is always breaking down and in need of repair which one can’t carry out oneself. The poem made me wish we did have a fire – even though it doesn’t deal with the business of getting hold of the coal/wood, clearing it out very day etc..:)!

The First Fire, October 1st, 1815

Ha, old acquaintance! many a month has past
Since last I viewed thy ruddy face; and I,
Shame on me! had mean time well nigh forgot
That such a friend existed. Welcome now!
­When summer suns ride high, and tepid airs
Dissolve in pleasing languor; then indeed
We think thee needless, and in wanton pride
Mock at thy grim attire and sooty jaws,
And breath sulphureous, generating spleen,­
As Frenchmen say; Frenchmen, who never knew
The sober comforts of a good coal fire.
— Let me imbibe thy warmth, and spread myself
Before thy shrine adoring: — magnet thou
Of strong attraction, daily gathering in
Friends, brethren, kinsmen, variously dispersed,
All the dear charities of social life,
To thy close circle. Here a man might stand,
And say, This is my world! Who would not bleed
Rather than see thy violated hearth
Prest by a hostile foot? The winds sing shrill;
Heap on the fuel! Not the costly board,
Nor sparkling glass, nor wit, nor music, cheer
Without thy aid. If thrifty thou dispense
Thy gladdening influence, in the chill saloon
The silent shrug declares the’ unpleased guest.
–How grateful to belated traveller
Homeward returning, to behold the blaze
From cottage window, rendering visible
The cheerful scene within! There sits the sire,
Whose wicker chair, in sunniest nook enshrined,
His age’s privilege, — a privilege for which
Age gladly yields up all precedence else
In gay and bustling scenes, — supports his limbs.
Cherished by thee, he feels the grateful warmth
Creep through his feeble frame and thaw the ice
Of fourscore years, and thoughts of youth arise.
–Nor less the young ones press within, to see
Thy face delighted, and with husk of nuts,
Or crackling holly, or the gummy pine,
Feed thy immortal hunger: cheaply pleased
They gaze delighted, while the leaping flames
Dart like an adder’s tongue upon their prey;
Or touch with lighted reed thy wreaths of smoke;
Or listen, while the matron sage remarks
Thy bright blue scorching flame and aspect clear,
Denoting frosty skies. Thus pass the hours,
While Winter spends without his idle rage.
— Companion of the solitary man,
From gayer scenes withheld! With thee he sits,
Converses, moralizes; musing asks
How many eras of uncounted time
Have rolled away since thy black unctuous food
Was green with vegetative life, and what
This planet then: or marks, in sprightlier mood,
Thy flickering smiles play round the’ illumined room,
And fancies gay discourse, life, motion, mirth,
And half forgets he is a lonely creature.
— Nor less the bashful poet loves to sit
Snug, at the midnight hour, with only thee
Of his lone musings conscious. Oft he writes,
And blots, and writes again; and oft, by fits,
Gazes intent with eyes of vacancy
On thy bright face; and still at intervals,
Dreading the critic’s scorn, to thee commits,
Sole confidant and safe, his fancies crude.
— 0 wretched he, with bolts and massy bars
In narrow cell immured, whose green damp walls,
That weep unwholesome dews, have never felt
Thy purifying influence! Sad he sits
Day after day, till in his yourhful limbs
Life stagnates, and the hue of hope is fled
From his wan cheek. –And scarce less wretched he
­When wintry winds blow loud and frosts bite keen,
­The dweller of the clay-built tenement,
Poverty-struck, who, heartless, strives to raise
From sullen turf, or stick plucked from the hedge,
The short-lived blaze; while chill around him spreads
The dreary fen, and Ague, sallow-faced,
Stares through the broken pane; –Assist him, ye
On whose warm roofs the sun of plenty shines,
And feel a glow beyond material fire!

By this year Barbauld was a widow living alone on a small income; her husband had been a manic depressive, and killed himself in 1808; she had been much attacked in 1811 for her radical pro-French revolution (she remained true to its principles) and anti-war stances and didn’t publish after that; the mainstay of her existence was her beloved brother, John Aiken (whose business as a surgeon had gone to pot because of his liberal opinions and writing) who lived close by.

The second is Robert Burns-like. She feels for a tiny insect, because (like Alice from Wonderland and her dinner) she has really entered into its life and physical presence, identified, and now cannot bear to kill it though if left there to multiply it would ruin her garden.

The Caterpillar

No, helpless thing, I cannot harm thee now;
Depart in peace, thy little life is safe,
For I have scanned thy form with curious eye,
Noted the silver line that streaks thy back,
The azure and the orange that divide
Thy velvet sides; thee, houseless wanderer,
My garment has enfolded, and my arm
Felt the light pressure of thy hairy feet;
Thou hast curled round my finger; from its tip,
Precipitous descent! with stretched out neck,
Bending thy head in airy vacancy,
This way and that, inquiring, thou hast seemed
To ask protection; now, I cannot kill thee.
Yet I have sworn perdition to thy race,
And recent from the slaughter am I come
Of tribes and embryo nations: I have sought
With sharpened eye and persecuting zeal,
Where, folded in their silken webs they lay
Thriving and happy; swept them from the tree
And crushed whole families beneath my foot;
Or, sudden, poured on their devoted heads
The vials of destruction. – This I’ve done,
Nor felt the touch of pity: but when thou,
A single wretch, escaped the general doom,
Making me feel and clearly recognise
Thine individual existence, life,
And fellowship of sense with all that breathes,
Present’st thyself before me, I relent,
And cannot hurt thy weakness.– So the storm
Of horrid war, o’erwhelming cities, fields,
And peaceful villages, rolls dreadful on:
The victor shouts triumphant; he enjoys
The roar of cannon and the clang of arms,
And urges, by no soft relentings stopped,
The work of death and carnage. Yet should one,
A single sufferer from the field escaped,
Panting and pale, and bleeding at his feet,
Lift his imploring eyes,-the hero weeps;
He is grown human, and capricious Pity,
Which would not stir for thousands, melts for one
With sympathy spontaneous:-Tis not Virtue,
Yet ’tis the weakness of a virtuous mind.


To begin her life as told by McCarthy : Those interested in Austen could learn a lot from reading the opening section about her girlhood and reading because although Barbauld is from a dissenting background, she is otherwise close to Austen: her father originally a clergyman (not establishment and gave it up) became someone who ran a school out of his large house. The children were given the run of his library. Barbauld’s reading and tastes sound just like Austen’s, especially some of the adverse comments she makes on the earlier literature of the century.

Austen’s music books

I was also delighted to discover that the longer comments on books MacCarthy quotes includes comments on Burney and especially Richardson’s Clarissa — which meant a lot to her. About Burney’s books and Cecilia Barbauld thought that many gentlewomen growing up in England at the time would not be able to learn about society or its inner workings anywhere so well as by reading Burney’s Cecilia. I think she would have said that one-hundred fold could she have read Burney’s journals. She died before they were published.

Clarissa for her embodied a woman’s “heroism” and shows a struggle for real authentic integrity. Barbauld quoted Clarissa’s great lines after she has been raped and refuses to yield to Lovelace again or the women in any way as she did at Harlowe place before her family and says “Compulsion shall do nothing wit me. though a slave, a prisoner in circumstance, I am no slave in my will! — Nothing wil I promise thee.” I’ve always loved that passage particularly; it makes me think of Malcolm X who refused a slave morality. “The real moral of the story,” says Barbauld, is that Clarissa holds out against all wrong, “in circumstances the most painful and degrading, in a prison, in a brothel, in grief, in distraction, in despair . . .”

When she was 15 she went with her parents to live in Lancashire as her father had gotten a job as a schoolmaster at a fine dissenting academy, Warrington. There she became close with Joseph Priestley’s wife, Mary. Mary was a highly intelligent, well-read, educated woman. When Priestley changed jobs, and Mary moved away, the loss of this woman’s company to Anna was even more than the loss of say the older Mrs Lefroy to Jane Austen (when Mrs Lefroy died suddenly from a fall from a horse), and perhaps Burney to Thrale or vice versa, as the young girl (like Anna Seward) lived in the provinces, and (unlike Austen) had no bad feelings about the older woman to cope with (Mrs Lefroy separated Jane from Tom). I’ve come across these sorts of women’s friendships in the 18th century repeatedly: they cross age cohorts because stranded people can’t be chosers. No trains, no phone, no internet, no going to public schools or jobs which are desirable, and for this genteel milieu where money is somewhat scarce, the family kept the girl away from outsiders lest she fall in love with the “wrong” sort or lose her reputation for chastity. Mary Priestley helped Anna pick books, went with her to the circulating library and encouraged her.

Here is the opening of her poem to Mary when Mary moved away:

On Mrs Priestley’s Leaving Warrington

How oft the well-worn path to her abode
At early dawn with eager steps I’ve trod,
And with unwilling feet retired at eve,
Loath its approach unheeded to believe.
Oft have I there the social circle joined
Whose brightening influence raised my pensive mind,
For none within that circle’s magic bound,
But sprightly spirits moved their chearful round;
No cold reserve, suspicion, sullen care,
Or dark unfriendly passions enter there,
But pleasing fires of lively fancy play . . .

Like so many women in the era even though she was 31 by the time she married, Barbauld leaves little record of herself. She had no public role or function. She didn’t transgress, she was not impoverished or beaten (though her later life with her husband was hard as he was a manic depressive), so it’s a kind of filling in, blowing up small details since he has so little to go on. He goes on about her reading and it’s like reading a Prose Prelude, but she herself would not write down her troubles sexually as a girl growing up, why she retreated to the marriage, why for example she was actually terrified and made anxious when it was said she should start a female academy, and also how she backed off from having to (what she thought the aim of such education) control a pubescent girls’ sexuality, direct and shape it. Abrasive women (young and old) were what she had learned to avoid.

By the ninth chapter of the book, a sensitive, intelligent, hard-working woman emerges. She is another teacher. She is making her living teaching. She married Rochemont Barbauld, a man who was not capable of making his way in the world socially and so through connections she with him beside her opened a school and ran it. Palgrave Academy was a big success and became a respected place. She ran it according to different ideas than say Eton. No cruelty as the basis of relationship; no fagging, no whipping. Her curriculum stressed modern languages and subjects like geography as well as history. She had the boys put on a play at the end of the year and recite poetry. She also really was a mother to them. She kept the accounts, ran the school. Mr Barbauld did teach there too and worked with her, but she was clearly the center of the place and made its policy, its life.

Part of her legacy was decent books for young children for the first time. McCarthy prints these dreadful primers to read, made up of the stupidest kinds of brief precepts. Instead she’ll have a story of a cat which is realistic (I’ve cats on my brain and am noticing them everywhere).

Chapter 9 from her time as the headmistress of a school is called “Mother Tongue” and it’s a long analysis of a book by Barbauld which became a wide seller, stayed in print for over a century, and influenced countless children: her Lessons for Children, volumes for years 2-3, 3-4, 5-6. It’s the first volume ever to situate what is to be learned in little dramatic scenes understandable to a child, to write sentences with thoughts the child can understand out of his or her own life (she understands words function as speech acts and how utterances are nested in social situations), and beyond that its style is deeply appealing, sort of pastoral, with remarkably humane but not pointed lessons and realism about childhood along the way. One can find echoes of it in the poetry of T.S.Eliot, Blake and others. Deeper associations of its tone and mood and ambience connect it to Virginia Woolf.

She did use Genlis’s methods in inventing small plays. She probably read Locke, Rousseau, and so on, but for practical suggestions, one finds her turning to other women’s publications where the women were governesses.

Chapter 10 gets her to London with her husband in the summers of these ten years, “How they lived.” She socializes with bluestockings. She was welcomed by Elizabeth Montagu and her circle (Elizabeth Carter, Sarah Fielding), Hannah More, Hester Chapone.

Elizabeth Montagu by Allan Ramsay

But she was not one of them, a dissenter, a working woman (more than full time job running a school, teaching, mothering), shy of other women particularly, and in company could be rigid or backward. Unkind comments about her may be found in Burney’s diary. She did get on well with Hannah More who visited her. We don’t know much about her relationships with these women it must be admitted for 19th century relatives regularly destroyed their dead female relatives’ correspondence (kill them after they are dead if you couldn’t repress them when alive), and Barbauld’s papers not having gotten into the British museum were a huge portion of them destroyed in a building set on fire during the Blitz.

To understand her here and what she and Rochemont did next (gave up their school), we should remember her essay under the influence of Elizabeth Carter’s translation of Epictetus. She writes about hope and ambition in the Johnsonian strain — Johnson writes we should not desire what is out of our power to have because it endangers our virtue, tranquillity, and sanity. (He doesn’t use the word sanity but another that means that.) One of her most famous essays is about how we must only hope for what we can have. Hope aroused and then frustrated or thwarted is a painful thing. Her emphasis not quite Johnson’s; instead she is telling the reader accept yourself. If you’ve spent your life studying, you are not going to have a big position or lots of money. She inveighs against the self-berating people indulge in and envy of others too. It is a different emphasis, more pragmatic.

Lots of people survive by lying to themselves: they hope on for impossible things and whenever something in their life changes, you hear them produce another rationale telling you how good this is, a rationale entirely different from another they had been saying for years. Or they delude themselves they have a higher position than they do, are more respected, loved &c Maybe I tend to err in the other direction. She is a bit too simplistic. She writes as if we had the choice to be this or that freely, when our natures are inherited and our circumstances and people keep up fronts.

Chapter 11 is called “The Pursuit of Happiness.” Anna and Rochemont give up giving over their lives to a boys’ school, and take what they’ve got and go travelling around Europe. They have some 500 pounds and spend a year travelling about France and into the edges of Italy and Germany. He has connections with powerful wealthy Catholic establishment types in the provinces, she with Protestant Huguenots, and they bring introductory letters which let them into better and interesting society. Among those visited is Thomas Jefferson.

The startling matter is that she seems nearly to have had an affair with Alexandre-Cesar-Annibal Fremin, baron de Stonne (to give him all his names). One would not expect this from the way she’s usually (completely inadequately I see) discussed. He flirted with her to the point that it’s evident if she had consented they would have had a liaison. She destroyed all his letters, but he saved his own and some of hers and that’s why we know about this. We see in Stonne the culture of the ancien regime where affairs were tolerated as long as everyone was discreet. Barbauld comes from a more puritanical environment: what happened was she in effect used her husband as a barrier by having him around a lot. Stonne acceded to this and became friends with both. What’s left are these exquisitely courteous and friendly letters and poems which show the three enjoyed one another’s company while they went to high culture things (visit Versailles, go to plays, see pictures in museums, go to dinner party and so on)

Her marriage was a strained one we can see from all sorts of angles: Rochemont’s depressions, inadequacy in comparison with her in dealing with social life and the need to make a living; her not having children and then growing old and tired and (as she records in Love and Time) perhaps not attractive any more to him. There is evidence of close sympathy and understanding between them and at the same time much strain and McCarthy presents this with subtlety and compassion.

Just as moving if less unexpected is that after she closed the school, she and Rochemont had a hard time making ends meet. It seems they did have a very small annuity or income (inherited and it’s not explained as probably McCarthy might not know), but not enough to live on. Her deep and loving relationship with her brother, John Aiken carries on. He had moved near to her school, Palgrave, in Norfolk to be close to her and to try to start a practice as a doctor. It seems the idea was he would provide for all, his wife and children and help his sister. It didn’t happen. Medical practices are hard to start and make work (see Middlemarch, Deerbrook, Wives and Daughters for some fictional versions) and Aiken apparently expected some position to be given him also and it wasn’t. The brother and sister correspond and it’s clear this is the real love relationship that sustained Anna’s life. Their letters and poems to one another are very moving.

Chapter 12 is titled “Revolutions.” Rochemont and Anna come back to London and attempt to build a freer life where she can write and both have friends.

Duncan Grant, an early 20th century depiction of a coffee pot

She was at this time driven to begin to take individual pupils quietly — all young women it seems and it was done by mail too as some letters are extant. After some fumblings, and failures (he tried to become a librarian!), he gets a pulpit in a congregation in Hampstead. McCarthy follows them by researching where they lived and it’s apparent they are not doing well. They go from a much more expensive house to a small cheaper one where they live for 15 years. The house is still standing.

At this time too she begins to involve herself in politics. We are in the 1790s a time of great ferment: represssion and riots and rebellion and radical thought in England, the revolution and then counterrevolution and terror in France. Barbauld was deeply engaged by political events and began to write about them. She was very much an anti-establishment voice, a radical one and (alas) her letters for the most important years of this time 1790-93 are gone, probably destroyed by the niece who wrote the memoir.

I kept noticing parallels between Barbauld’s and Austen’s thought: for example, Barbauld is much touched by a poem by a woman which “imagines the effects on a young woman of feeling her first emotions of love, then of having to conceal her love, and then of finding her love betrayed” (McCarthy, p 265) This is exactly the pattern I find repeated in Austen’s novels.

Chapters 12, 13, and into 14 (“Revolutions, Sins of the Nation,” and “Political Duties”), establish Barbauld as a radical voice. We don’t know that much about this as 1) just about all her prose pieces were published anonymously, at first because she was a woman, and then later on because it was dangerous to publish such things; 2) all her verse is couched in an idiom no longer popular or easily readable; and 3) she answers what happens in a more narrow sense most of the time, making her argument apply to some specific instance of injustice, reactionary tyranny, often involving it with her allegiance as a dissenter, and not putting it into popular rhetoric in the way of Paine or Wollstonecraft. Burke’s book became so well known because he was Burke, it was well circulated and distributed (Wm St Clair shows this) and told melodramatic stories. Hers are arguments and meditations in Johnson’s way. Nonetheless, in her day they were read, among those in the know known to be by her, and they made her enemies who took their revenge and berated and derided her in later years (e.g. Coleridge, an arch conservative, as much for being a woman as anything else).

Her first important pamphlet was written out of when the repeal of the test and corporation acts was defeated. McCarthy makes a case for seeing it as a work similar in reach to Woolf’s Three Guineas. Here it seemed to me curious that he didn’t emphasize what at least seemed to me it’s most radical idea: that the dissenters are being kept out of institutions, offices, and all sorts of jobs because of systems of property and privilege which always exclude groups to some extent must ever favors the others. She sees the utter amorality and ruthlessness of the exclusion and puts her finger on it. He likes how she demands equal rights as a right. I also liked how she showed what victimization does to someone’s self-esteem. As McCarthy says anyone who has suffered this way can be moved by Barbauld. As an adjunct I read it with bitter memories assenting to much of what she wrote.

An essay with a long cumbrous title (“Address to the Opposers … “) which came to be called “Does France Exist” was her answer to Burke. Yes, she said these new groups representing France are France too. They count, they matter. Her husband was part of the overt male groups of dissenters meeting at this time and he got to know Jacques-Pierre Brissot. McCarthy doesn’t mention this but in this way Barbauld connects to Roland who loved Brissot.

Alas, at this point the Barbaulds really ran out of money; her brother was not able to help himself much, less them (later his practice as a doctor was destroyed by his radical publications and reputation — people were unwilling to go to him) and it seems they might have been homeless for a while. I can’t think they were literally in the street, but there is no record of where they stayed.

After the failure of Wilberforce’s campaign and speech (with others) to abolish the slave trade on the high seas, Barbauld wrote a poem out of the shock she felt when she saw how shameless those voting against the bill were. They didn’t care in the least they were supporting such horrors and cruelty. Her conservative friend Hannah More wrote a poem More did not see was actually encouraging the establishment to extirpate non-establishment types and keep up violence and oppression, so Barbauld did write a biting reply. It’s not known if More saw that.

At this time the Manchester authorities apparently stirred up, partly organized and colluded in the mob destruction scene which destroyed Priestley’s house and all he owned and other liberal thinking types. The court cases afterwards which allowed all the people involved to get off basically scot free showed it was a deliberate CIA type venture. This of course worked to terrify and silent dissent of any kind. Then legislation was passed to declare “sedition” (not defined) as treasonable and prosecutable.

The value of this book is not only as a portrait of Barbauld but of the real 1790s as experienced by the average middling and lower middle class person in England: it recalls the 1950s in the US, real effective repression by all sorts of measures by the government, with lots of people suffering a little, and a few made examples of (transportation, hanging too). He recreates the atmosphere of the time.

Among all the ins and outs of controversy, one man, Gilbert Wakefield wrote in defense of secret and individual or private worship (defending himself and also attacking the sensual rituals of churches). Here she wrote a pamphlet in defense of public worship. She thought public worship’s function was to bind a community, bring people togther, a social value. Individuals in solitude are “unanchored fragments” and need fellow human beings to keep them sane.

She began a sort of series of papers to be called “civic sermons” but only wrote 2, one on behalf of secular education (its importance), and the other on behalf of seeing government as there to serve the people, and necessary for that. (Obama would like Civic Sermon 2). But her style was too erudite and learned to reach working people which was who she meant to reach.

On a couple of her essays in the Addison or Johnson vein. They are very good, caustic and sharply critical of the hypocrisy of pleasures that is so common. One called “Letters on Watering Places” could be about living in a fancy hotel for vacation today — as many people may do, going to tourist sites, and generally being far more uncomfortable than one would have been at home or in some real small place of pleasure (if you have the money for it). She is not so mild as Addison, and not so tragic as Johnson.

She worked as Johnson did in the literary world of her day. She made a 3 volume selection from the Spectator, Tatler and another periodical and introduced it and this was the book sold in the 19th century and which made its way into better schoolrooms and libraries.

And she didn’t forget her writing for children. Among her writing is 14 of out of the 99 pieces her brother, John Aiken published as Evenings at Home. This was in imitation of Genlis’s very popular Les Veilles du Chateau (read by Austen aloud with her family from her letters). These were later attacked by a repressive influential Victorian woman educator, Sarah Trimmer. They are delightful: one is on calling things by their right names (anti-war); several are printed in the Broadview collection. I liked best the young mouse who almost gets into a trap mistaking it for a house the kind family has provided him; just in time an older mouse stops him from losing his life. We get a little sermon to the effect: “Though man has not so fierce a look as a cat, he is as much our enemy and has still more cunning.” These went into 14 editions.

There were bright spots. We all know what such moments can mean. She travelled to Scotland as a governess with girls (like men did as tutors with boys on the continent). She declaimed some of Goethe’s poetry in translation aloud. This was a rare bright spot in her life at this time. She visited Buchan probably around 22 September, the date of an annual festival honoring the birthday of James Thomson that Buchan led at his estate at Dryburgh Abbey, a Gothic ruin on a bend of the river Tweed. Buchan promoted nationalism, and Scots poetry and was “an ardent advocate of women’s education and a passionate believer in progress and reform; he deplored British “political insanity” and credited the new United States with every imaginable virtue.

Early Wm Turner, Tintern Abbey done in Gilpin’s style (Fanny Price has a transparency of such a picture on her wall)

This whole scene of this Scottish ramble is cheering. As Buchan ushered her and her companions, Miss and Mr. Wynch, along a scenic path he had laid beside the riverbank, a gust of wind blew her hat into the Tweed. Buchan waded in, retrieved the hat, and presented it to her.

She is an example of a woman actually spitefully attacked — so unjust it’s startling and I think in her case it’s not just she was a woman, identified as a bluestocking (wrongly as she was not of their class), and her class (middling, dissenter — once she and her husband ended up homeless), but that she was presented as so unsexy, as boring to men. Then her relatives or well-meaning niece didn’t help: Lucy destroyed what she could of her aunt’s political reputation and ignored it. She is turned into a conservative pious type or apolitical and her life with her husband kept from view too. Everything human and appealing is erased.

In her sixties (“Middle age”) Barbauld became involved in publishing essays for periodicals, one of which was started by her brother. For the booksellers Cadell and Davies she wrote introductory essays on poets, much in the manner of Samuel Johnson. No where near as many, but a few, and these respond to Johnson. She placed Mark Akenside historically, and defended his doctrine of liberty; she also used Akenside’s traumas to delve her own. She is one of those who wrote blank verse, Milton variants and mandarin kinds of stanzas for meditation — and wrote some herself, with Akenside as well as Collins in mind (“Summer Evening’s Meditation,” and “Odes” to spring, content, wisdom). But late in life she turns from these kinds to prefer rhyme as a way of controlling and shaping poetry in a more disciplined way.

What I was really impressed by were her essays on Education and Prejudice. These were written for the Monthly. For the essay on Education she is responding to Rousseau’s Emile and Genlis’s Theodore and Adele: her idea is the notion that education can be controlled by a teacher and successful if the child is removed from society and then manipulated (for that’s what it is) is absurd: you cannot remove the child from society; what you can offer in a classroom is instructive; the education of a child is a holistic experience that is going on since his or her birth, and central to what the child becomes is his or her social and economic circumstances, what the parent do and how they behave. It’s an existentialist approach which shows the messy ambiguous particular worlds the child lives in (including with peers) makes him or her into the person he or she becomes, as much as innate nature. She is calling into question the Enlightenment notion you can change a person through reform movements in school or particular methods. I do love how she disapproves of teaching children falsehoods to get them to believe and do what you want, and saying to oneself that later they’ll be glad you did so. Later they’ll have imbibed inculcated hypocrisies and acceptance of cruelties this way and do likewise to their children themselves.

Of “prejudice,” she shows we cannot live without it, that knowledge is grounded in someone’s direct conscious experience and there must be faith in authorities as the child grows up, for he or she builds on what he or she is given instructionally and reacts to experience. All learning is situated (once again). You can try to teach principles of ethics, but they will only “take” if they direct your actual behavior. When the child grows older, he or she will insensibly begin to think or react or feel on his or her own.

My feeling or problem with the latter is only that she is too general or avoids the hard realities as she did in her “Against Inconsistency in Expectations.” It’s fine to say accept what you are and your choices, but it’s not easy to do, and choices have been limited from the start. To me she avoids the pain of educating a child for I have seen how a child’s nature can be cruel, dense, difficult, a bully, and determined to imitate the generality of what she (or he) saw around him, using lies when I didn’t try to elicit information, just because, more than defensively, and I made every attempt in Barbauld’s way to at least counter these impulses somehow and failed utterly. Why? Because this was part of the child’s nature and encouraged by the society I find myself in. I guess I’m saying Barbauld isn’t pessmistic enough and prefer Austen’s brief succinct words given Elizabeth that that which counts most can’t be taught. And what bothers me about say Rousseau’s and Genlis’s methods is they enact deceit themselves, manipulation.

So much of enlightenment literature is about education, from Austen’s novels to Mary Wollstonecraft’s Rights of Women.

Mary Wollstonecraft by John Opie

In one talk I heard at the ASECS, I was reminded of what seemed to me a paradox at the time: Paine’s Rights of Man are directed to the common man and he outlines rights based on humanity; Wollstonecraft’s essay is for more than one-half an analysis of educational treatises to show how women are miseducated; she is appealing to those who get to set the terms and understanding underlining women’s existence; you cannot present to them their rights for they are not in a position to want these even having been so miseducated, so misshapen by their general culture. Wollstonecraft sees what Barbauld sees here too.


McCarthy’s depth is gained through his paying attention to and finding out of course little particulars. For example, ferreting out where she writes from opens up a vista that she was homeless for a while with her husband (probably living in lodgings or with friends) and that she would go apart from him for rest and to write. He notes that Cadell and Davies collects her work from an address in Bloomsbury not Hampstead where she is living with the husband (p. 366). She did have trouble fulfilling her contracts and there are apologies for not having done this or that essay: she was prevented from doing these by home circumstances for it’s clear in nature she was a hard worker, a lover of reading and study. And because of her not turning in smaller copy she would not be given the bigger assignments.

McCarthy gets us to this level of her life.

As I came to the end of this beautiful moving book, I felt sad. I wished it would go on but then her life came to an end. In the penultimate chapter of the book he goes over a book she and her beloved niece, Lucy Aikin put together for Barbauld called Legacy to Ladies. It consists of letters she wrote to young women who were seeking to make her their tutor, some of which Aikin has changed to appear as general statements. She was what is today called a proto-feminist, and her attitudes remind me of Austen’s insofar as we can discern them from her novels; a strong desire to see decent education for all (regardless of class), which is not tightly tied to a coming job, a genuine openness to sexual experience within the constraints of the idea of chastity (the attitude is seen in Richardson’s Grandison and the grandmother’s speeches to Harriet Byron), seeing wifedom (?), motherhood as the footholds in society through which people give women importance and power (ironic that since Barbauld never was a biological mother), these are some of the attitudes towards women’s education found in these materials. She is playful and enjoys her young friends’ company so poignantly — when they are congenial and mostly she took only congenial young women on. She discovered she could make more money as a tutor (net) than running a school. Her proto-feminism is seen through Lucy Aikin’s which I’d define as defensive. Aikin seeks to defend women and particularly their right to possess and develop their minds. She too never had any children; she never married.

One of the reading groups to which Anna belonged; artist, Joanna Maria Smith, year 1817, place Parndon Library

They also ran a book club just for women — like Azar Nafisi, they chose the girls they were most congenial with.

Late in life, like many women left alone, Barbauld read a lot. She liked Crabbe (how often her tastes are like Austen’s). Of Crabbe she wrote: “For strength & truth & variety of character no one exceeds him …” but she felt his depictions of distress so harrowing and criticized him for presenting them without “relief.” Lord Byron “charms & offends, revolts & delights, & def[ies] the critics gain[ing] the applause of all.” She lived long enough to discern that Scott was writing his novels out of a driving need for money: he “certainly writes hmself out, but if you were to ask him — Pray, Sir, how long do you mean to write? he would say, Pray, Madam, how long do you mean to pay?” She loved women’s memoirs and letters too: of Elizabeth Montagu’s she said: “With all her advantages she seems not to have been happy.”

I do think this one on how a tree means to us extraordinary. She understood Cowper’s Yardley Oak the way I do, and what one feels watching a tree (or kitten into cat) grow up:

And we stopped to look at Fairlop oak, one of the largest in England; a complete ruin, but a noble ruin, which it is impossible to see without thinking of Cowper’s beautiful lines, “Who lived when thou wast such.” The immoveable rocks and mountains pre­sent us rather with an idea of eternity than of long life. There they are, and there they have been before the birth of nations …. But a tree, that has life and growth like our­selves, that, like ourselves, was once small and feeble, that certainly some time began to be, — to see it attain a size so enormous, and in its bulk and its slow decay bear record of the generations it has outlived, — this brings our comparative feebleness strongly in view. “Man passeth away, and where is he?” while “the oak of our fathers” will be the oak of their children, and their children.

And so I’ll end where I began: her poetry. She wrote “Dirge” after the death of her husband: Rochemont suffered from depression, and the hardships of their lives drove him into violence at times, and in 1808 she had to put him in a kind of asylum for a time, and he escaped from it and drowned himself (committed suicide). She had when young written lines about growing older, losing her beauty, with the implication that he no longer was attracted to her; here she grieves deeply:


Written 1808

Pure spirit! 0 where art thou now!
o whisper to my soul!
o let some soothing thought of thee,
This bitter grief controul!

‘Tis not for thee the tears I shed,
Thy sufferings now are o’er . . .
No more the storms that wrecked thy peace
Shall tear that gentle breast;
Nor Summer’s rage, nor Winter’s cold,
Thy poor, poor frame molest.

Thy peace is sealed, thy rest is sure,
My sorrows are to come …

0, in some dream of visioned bliss,
Some trance of rapture, show
Where, on the bosom of thy God,
Thou rest’st from human woe . . .

Let these my lonely path illume,
And teach my weakened mind
To welcome all that’s left of good,
To all that’s lost resigned.

But it was not an unmitigated season of final unhappiness (as may be seen above); she often works herself into stoic comforting cheer too:

Lines placed over a Chimney-Piece

Surly Winter, come not here;
Bluster in thy proper sphere:
Howl along the naked plain,
There exert thy joyless reign;
Triumph o’er the withered flower,
The leafless shrub, the ruined bower;
But our cottage come not near;
Other springs inhabit here,
Other sunshine decks our board,
Than the niggard skies afford.
Gloomy Winter, hence! away!
Love and Fancy scorn thy sway;
Love and Joy, and friendly Mirth,
Shall bless this roof, these walls, this hearth;
The rigour of the year controul,
And thaw the winter in the soul . . .

A great 20th century woman writer: Elsa Morante, probably 1930s


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“”There is no mercy, nor friendship anywhere” — Ferdinand Lopez (an abbreviated version of a line from Trollope’s The Prime Minister

Duchess (Susan Hampshire) rushes into Marie Finn’s (Barbara Murray) arms

On their last evening Lopez (Stuart Wilson) kneels before Emily (Sheila Rusking), puts his head on her lap, seeking comfort

Dear Friends,

Perhaps because this part has so many hard and cynical moments and ends on a suicide, in an effort to prevent it from being perceived as too somber, the director has more opening scenes for each part begin with one character reaching out to hug or be hugged by another or touch one another (Duke to Bungay, Duchess to Silverbridge, above Duchess to Marie, even more discreetly Lopez to Sextus Parker) than I remember in any other part. We also have a man humble himself before a woman physically: an effort is made to make Lopez a more sympathetic character at the same time as he is more wildly jeeringly desperate.

I continue with my blog reviews of the 1974 BBC Pallisers mini-series. We are up to 11:23, a dramatization of the climax of The Prime Minister (Volume III): Phineas’s speech exposing Ferdinand Lopez, Lopez’s suicide; we see the last in this series of Emily Lopez, Mr Wharton (Brewster Mason) and Sextus Parker (David Ryall), and the story of Silverbridge (Anthony Andrews) is minimally threaded in yet again.

First the summary of the whole and then transcripts and commentaries on the scenes and threads:

Summary of episodes and sources in Trollope’s Prime Minister:

11:23: End of Prime Minister, mostly from Volume III of novel, with a little invention to thread in Silverbridge, Lady Mabel and Lady Mary

Episode 26: Muckraking: Scene 1) Matching, front room, at night: Dukes Bungay and Omnium, from PM, III, Ch 50, pp. 429-30 (letter material) 432-35 and narration elsewhere. Again over same material, how this came about, People’s Banner exploiting (opens with Omnium reading paper), places (for Phineas at admiralty), scandal, voice-over of Slide as Bungay reads letter, something must be said publicly; scene 2) Matching, Duchess’s boudoir, fixing her hair, Marie to one side and maid at attention, Mrs Finn says she must go with husband, Duchess how secretaries run from her husband, Bungay to them, to tell of Duke’s gravity; scene 3) Duke’s study, Duke and Duchess, long moving transcribed scene in blog above, some from PM, III, Ch 42, pp. 366-67, Ch 51, pp. 436-441 (includes Adam trope), Ch 56, pp. 482-84.

Episode 27: Lopez’s schemes: scene 4) Sexty Parker’s office, Lopez and Sexty, here Sexty presented as urging Lopez to get money from Wharton by threatening to take Emily to Guatemala; scene 5) Wharton’s chambers, Lopez and Wharton, from PM, Ch 53, pp. 456-59, here Lopez demands 2000 and insinuates he will not take Emily if 20000 immediately forthcoming, the Mills Happerton job described, from PM, Ch 49, pp. 421-22, Ch 52, pp. 450-53,Ch 53, p. 455; Scene 5) Lopez and Emily’s London flat; from PM, Ch 49,. pp. 421-24, this is the transcribed scene in the blog above, where Lopez insists Emily must go with him, child a weapon, demand for 20000 pounds, he insists she go to father, that’s his good girl, she sickened; scene 6) Emily and Lopez’s flat, Emily and father talking, PM, Chs 48-49,, p. 416-419, Ch 53, pp. 452-56; Emily cries to father: “help me, papa! what am I to do!”; scene 7) Again Wharton’s chambers, Lopez and Wharton, now Wharton has a document for Lopez to sign to promise to leave Emily and all Wharton relatives alone before he offers money; this is a memory of how Wharton consults a lawyer in the book to see if they can by law rid themselves of Lopez (a permanent separation PM, III, Ch 53, p. 462), Lopez swaggering nasty (“wives as you can imagine are very expensive things, Wharton”)

Episode 28: Homecoming: scene 8) first Silverbridge’s, Matching, Duchess’s boudoir, we see him and Duchess hugging, talk of Tregear in France, father wishes son would spend time preparing himself for house, and the dialogue about how a “fella” has to follow his views; he wants to be conservative, Duchess doesn’t mind the politics, only the father’s dismay, keep it from him (“that’s my good boy”) and she says she’s invited Lady Mabel Grex, muffin eating; scene 9) return to Wharton office and scene 7: Lopez signing for 6000 pounds, Wharton says he’ll check to see if job going through before giving money; Scene 10, Emily and Lopez’s apartment, the nadir of their relationship where he taunts her with sexually desiring him, transcribed onto blog above, much invented, feeling is that of PM, Ch 47, pp. 408, 410-11; Scene 10 — misnumbered in my notes): Happerton’s chambers, to him Wharton, a scene transposed with modern resonances about South America, from MP, Vol III, Ch 53, pp. 460-62, effective satire; sum here is 5000 pounds; scene 11) Sexty’s office, Sexty drunk and desperate, half-crying, Lopez come to tell him Wharton will visit him to check and he must convince him to give them 6000 pounds to cover their losses. (Actually the series here seems to be contradictory, with different sums thrown about.) Sexty ends calling Lopez a “beautiful brute” for scheming to get 4000 more than they need to cover their losses; scene 12) Matching, familiar windows, now gone green and pastoral and idyllic and so they will be for this and the last three parts, Lady Mary and Lady Mabel who looks away, again slightly melancholy figure, Mary claims to be doing German so Silverbridge who comes in can go walking with Mabel who is “strong as a horse,” Duchess comes in, they exit, would have liked to see others walking with them, Mary claims studying but is not, Duchess asserts she wants better for Silverbridge; Erle to them with grave political news that Duke must return to London immediately (he is often messenger of grave political news) Completely invented.

Episode 29: Grave Debate: Scene 13) Duchess boudoir at Matching, she in darkness, all alone, to her Marie Finn; telegram at Gibraltor sent Phineas to London and she to Matching, duke did not want Duchess there,Ch 56-57, pp. 482-88, clearly Duchess to be seen as obeying her husband’s behests not to be there, but here presented in such a way that clearly she could not have been,; scene 14) Parliament, Phineas’s great moment defending the Duke, a high point of climax in his career in the series, from PM, III, Ch 57, pp. 494-495, some quoted in blog below, much taken straight); 15) The Club, Lopez made an outcast by bringing out “Cumberland’s sword.” That last detail invented, but not outcast state which includes scene with Everett, PM, III, Ch 58, pp 497-99 (we are told he’s “not thrown out of club yet”), lines about being thrown out of club are two, p. 501 irony of having Dolly who is however a mouthpiece of this ironic series; 16) Happerton’s office: Wharton and Lopez to Happerton, deal off, PM, Vol 3, Ch 58, pp. 502-3, even running guns requires a level of trust, and ends on “no mercy, no friendship among you …”

Episode 30: scene 17) Sexty’s office, Lopez comes to say goodbye, the sweetest truest scene for him, tells his friend Wharton not coming, apologizes, says it could have gone the other way, from PM, Vol 58, pp. 503-4 (“Quite settled”); 18) Lopez and Emily’s flat, last scene, this is much softened from book, Emily sewing (in book she gave birth to baby who died quickly, Ch 49, pp 424-25, Ferdinand’s cruelty), Vol 3, Ch 60, p. 510 (against Fletcher) and 511-12 (he is hard to the last to her), but then decent after brooding and deciding to die, Ch 60, p. 516; here sudden tenderness, tells her to go to bed after she half-invites him to come to her; he sits up at desk, watching rain; 19) train station, Platform 3, buying one-way ticket to place where there’s no connection, darkened face, flashing light of train, PM, Ch 60, pp. 516-20; 20) Lopez and Emily’s apartment, father there, they are talking, Inspector Staples about a man run over at Tenway Junction, unrecognizable but for documents; she faints; 20) Matching front room, Duchess, Duke and Bungay: a what-they-thought-about-it-at-Matching scene: Duke blaming himself, PM, III, Ch 56, pp. 482-83; IV, Ch 63, p. 540; 66, pp. 565-68, again People’s Banner, Duke showing genuine decent feeling, some of what she said earlier in book about not tormenting himself brought in here, and narrator’s irony about how when someone is dead, his faults forgotten; Duchess’s “we did rather run over him” (a train image) not here; 21): Lopez and Emily’s apartment: she is no longer pregnant, she should come to live with father again, how can she forget, the beginnings of martyr behavior (father insists “he was a bad man”), lame defense on her part, taken from PM, IV, ch ch 61, p 526, (others are bad — the line Trollope gave Duchess much better, all that’s left are his debts says the father; Sexty turns up, Emily retreats with replaced father-lover bidding her to bed; after father has told her that legally and morally they are not bound to do anything, we have ironic use of flattery to extract (possibly) the whole of the 6000 pounds the next day in Sexty’s office, perhaps Lopez not as cunning and strong as Sexty after all. Life goes on.

As with Part 11:22, the dramatization of the marriage of Lopez and Emily is the overwhelming dominate thread, only here the marriage is now in a state of utter disrepair, and (fascinatingly) Raven has made Emily turn, and it’s just about erotically, to her father, and (as Sedgwick suggested is common to most of our male hegemonic literature, but even more so in male homosexual books), it comes down to a struggle between the father and Lopez for Emily.

This is presented stark in a way it’s not in Trollope as Raven weaves scenes back and forth between Lopez and the father-in-law, Lopez and Emily, Emily and the father-in-law, punctuated by two to Happerton Mills (the man made to have the job at Guatemala on offer) and at the opening of the part between Lopez and Sexty, in the middle (where it’s Sexty who is made to concoct the plan to blackmail the father-in-law — in the book Lopez needs no counseling or urging on this) and at the close (touchingly, Lopez comes to say goodbye to Sexty).

Nearly our last sight of Emily; she has chosen the safe older man

The other thread, much diminished is that between the Duke and Duchess over Lopez’s making public the Duchess’s shennigans, the Duke’s refusal to let his wife be openly humiliated in public, her pleadings he do so, Bungay’s advice (to no avail), all culminating in Donal McCann’s magnificent performance of Phineas’s speech in Parliament. This is one of the high points of the 26 part series, for here is a culmination of Phineas’s career and why in the series he is seen to succeed (as a useful orator).

Phineas in command of hecklers, admired by his colleagues, uses some of Trollope’s powerful language:

he . . . is only anxious to inflict an unmanly wound in order that he may be gratified by seeing the pain which he inflicts (PM, Vol 3, Ch 57, ’94 Oxford, p 495)

He has just finished saying “It is not part of my script to gratify the emorbid and indecent curiosity” of the opposing members; he asks one of them to come forward. Not one man rises. Then he changes his terms to “cruel and perverse.” Again there is heckling and he wonders about this desire to “gratify an appetite for inflicting cowardly wounds” and “a spectacle of pain.” I think the filmmakers mean us to recognize ourselves and world here, for when Phineas (a split second after our still) goes on to say “I need not pause to stigmatize the meanness of Mr Lopez’s application (great ploy, pausing while you deny pausing), the braying erupts on the other side of the room as they enjoy their scapegoating and sense that this is not them, oh never them, they would make no such applications, would they?

The other high — or low – point is a frantic powerful quarrel between Lopez and Emily over sex where he mocks her sexual appetite for him.

The best moments are include Glencora’s powerful request to the Duke to let her take the blame (as after all he will not and she is protected and glad to be so), and many little ones like the closing scene Sexty Parker comes to Abel Wharton and shows himself capable of fleecing Abel Wharton for far more than Lopez ever did. Lopez (in a series of brief scenes) had told Sexy first that Wharton was coming to pay the bill and he had lied and said it was 6,000 pounds when it was 2,000 and they would split the extra four, and then that the deal was off as his job had been cancelled, and then that he was “going away.” Parker flatters Wharton with talk of how Lopez respected him and Wharton falls for it, a scene which has the effect of suggesting Lopez’s fall was not because he was a “bad man” but not a sufficiently “able” or astute liar. After all he did believe the Duchess would support him, was shocked when she left the morning the election began.

However, since the scene between the Duchess and Duke carries the main thread across the series of their developing relationship and is subtle and powerful too, and comes early in the Part, I transcribe it here first.

The Part opens with Bungay come to comfort the Duke about the failing coalition and having to listen to the Duke read aloud the latest excoriating epistle from The People’s Banner, the Duchess cutting her hair (with a maid standing right by her ready to obey her every commant) urging Mrs Finn not to follow her husband to sea, when Bungay comes in to tell the Duchess her husband is in emotional straits.

Episode 26, Muckraking, Scene 2: Duke’s study at Matching

1 Establishment shot: Duke writing at desk, with man standing near by (parallels Duchess cutting her hair with maid standing nearby). We hear door open, we see Duchess hurrying through the door (an episode about coming through doors)

Duchess: “Oh!”
Duke signals man to go.
Duchess: “I’ve just heard. I have just heard for the first time that there was a row about the money that you paid to Mr Lopez”
Duke: (putting down writing implement) “Who told you?”
Duchess: “The other Duke. Of course he was quite right. I had to know. I . . . I . . . knew something was troubling you, but why had you not told me?” (comes over to desk, leans towards him, tones of real affection and appeal)

Unusually earnest moment

Duke: “My dear I didn’t want you to be troubled.”
Duchess: “Why not? I should not be troubled and no more should you be. Tuh! What can such a man as Slide do to you? You’re too big to feel the sting of a reptile such as that.”
Duke: “I don’t care to have my character impugned, not by such men as Slide and Lopez.”
Duchess: (assenting noise). “What matter if you are in the right . . . I read somewhere the other day that great ships always have little worms attached to them, but that the great ships swim on and know nothing of the little worms.”
Duke “And the worms conquer at the last.”
Duchess: “Oh they should not conquer me. Now. What is this that they say about the money. That you should not have paid it.”
Duke (nods): “I begin to think they’re right.
Duchess: “In any case it was my fault. You paid the money because of what I had done and I assure you, Plantagenet, I promised Mr Lopez nothing. All we need to do is make that fact public.”
We see him contemplating her.
Duchess: “When this is done, you will be cleared and Mr Lopez will be shown up for what he is.”
Duke: “My dear, you too will be shown up.”
Duchess (calm upon her face): “Yes, yes as a interfering hussy and I shall not mind one bit.”
Duke (shaking voice): “I shall mind for ya.”
Duchess (alarm in her face now): “You must throw me to the whale, Plantagenet, if not I shall write to the newspaper myself. Please just please please let somebody say that the duchess did so and so, and must be blamed for the whole affair. Well, it was very wicked, no doubt, but they can’t kill me nor yet dismiss me and I certainly shan’t resign” (she smiles).
Duke (smiles back, eye contact): “I should resign, m’dear.”
Duchess: “Ah, Plantagenet, if all the ministers in England resigned as soon as their wives did foolish things, the government would stop tomorrow (comes forward). You must let the blame lie where the blame belongs: squarely on yours stupid wife.”
Duke: “No, my dear. You’d be talked about and a man’s wife should be talked about by no one.”
Duchess: “Oh that is just highfalutin, Plantagenet.”
Duke: “Yes, well m’dear you must allow me to judge for myself in these matters, and I will judge . . . ah I will never say I did not do it, it was my wife who did.”
Duchess: “Why not? Adams said so because Adam chose to tell the truth.”
Duke: “Humm. He’s been despised ever since. Oh not for eating the apple but for blaming the woman. Glencora (rueful shaking of head), I will not do it.”
Duchess stands silent. She looks right at him “Hmmn” (She nods her head quickly. She turns and walks past him on her way and gets to door.)
Duke (softer voice): “Cora! (She is walking out of the door) Will you kiss me?”
She turns round puzzled. She smiles, alert now, walks over and kisses him.
Duke (low tone, holding her hand, his head down) “Oh no, dear. You must not think that I am angry with you because this thing vexes me. I dream always that we may live as other people live.”

Glad she will not resign

Duchess: “Whoo (sharp smile wry on her face) “we’d be very silly to resort to that.”


When you go over a part in this series slowly, you discover how important it is what scene preceded what; and how keeping in mind the juxtaposition gives them much more meaning.

So, for example, this next transcribed scene comes immediately after Lopez has been pressuring her father to give him 20,000 pounds (!) as a bribe for leaving her behind. Lest we think well of Wharton, there now follows his visit to Happerton where they discuss how selling guns is a wonderful thing to do abroad (in countries like South America say) for the two sides want endlessly to fight and you get to supply everyone:

Episode 27: Lopez schemes.

Scene 5: Emily and Lopez’s flat. He has just come from threatening Mr Wharton with taking Emily to Guatemala (“They do say that sea air is good for expectant mothers …”)

Establishment shot: Emily and he in the middle of talking, the dialogue takes off from what we have heard in the previous and Lopez intense, so super elegant in dress (like a vampire). She stands to the back looking weary.

Emily: “You mean that I must whether I wish to or not.”
Lopez: “Certainly, you must. I mean good God where is a woman’s place, do you not wish to come?”
Emily: “I wish to be wherever you are. You are the father of my child. It is my duty to be with you.”
Lopez. “Right. Very well.”
Emily (she turns round, and looks at him with appeal in her eyes and sits): “But I do not wish to leave my father.”
Lopez (exhales smoke and looks at her through it): “He’s done little enough for us.”
Emily “He is my father and I love him. If I go to this place that you speak of, I might never see him again.”
Lopez (his hand on his forehead): “Emily, my dearest, the alternatives are very clear. Either we must leave England for Guatemala or we must have 20,000 pounds. Now perhaps you can make your father understand this. You see, Emily, at the moment we have one invaluable weapon with which to fight for our survival (points to her stomach) your unborn child.”
Emily; “My child. A weapon.”
Lopez: “You see, it would be intolerable to your father that you in your present condition should be taken away from him to a foreign country, from which you might never return. Now it is your task to make your father understand that this indeed will happen, that you and your child will indeed be taken from him, unless we get the money that we need (urgent strident voice). Now once you have dinned that into him, he is bound to surrender.”
Emily (her eyebrows go up) “So not only is my child a weapon, but my father is an enemy, who must be made to surrender.”
Lopez (shakes his head, all earnestness): “Once you have done so then we may all be friends again.”‘

How appalled she is by this man

Emily: “Friends!? how can I look him in the face, my father who has always loved me, as I love him.”
Lopez: “I hope you’re not forgetting the love that is due to me. You owe more to your husband than you do to your father.’
Emily: “So I would have thought once. But a husband who can ask such a thing of his wife.”
Lopez (raising his voice): “I have no choice, and if you love me, you will do as I say!” (He sits very close to her) “I mean, do you love me, Emily?”
She turns her head slightly.
Lopez: “By God, you will say that you do, answer me!”
Emily: “Ferdinand, let me get this straight.” (He puts hands on her shoulder): “You as my husband are asking me to go to my father and ask for 20,000 pounds as absolute condition for our remaining in this country.”
Lopez; “Yes, 20,000 pounds, remember.”
Emily (she shakes a little, and then moves to get up): “Very well. I will go to him and see what can be done.” She winces.
Loepz (coming closer again): “That’s my girl. that’s my good girl.”
She turns her head. She moves away, genuinely sickened, then looks at him with quiet alienation. He looks down at her.

Emily and father then have a loving scene which ends with her on knees held in his embrace. He will help her rid herself of this incubus.

Then Episode 28: Homecoming, a Silverbridge and mother scene where he tells her he cannot be a liberal; it includes one of the hugging and kissing moments in this part:


The title and contrast casts irony on Lopez and Emily’s homecomings nowadays. Then back to Lopez and father-in-law, and Lopez signs a promise to leave Emily for good, and it’s after that he gets really ugly. He despises himself for selling her and takes his revenge on her as the only target in sight.

Episode 28: Homecoming: Ironic reference to Lopez and Emily at home as well

Scene 10: Lopez and Emily’s apartment

Establishment shot: Lopez in dark vestibule, all shades around him


Emily (not seen, but anxious voice heard): “Ferdinand (we now see her stepping up towards him)
Ferdinand walks in slowly.
Emily: “What happened with my father today?”
Lopez (walks ahead of her): “‘Tis all to be made straight, Emily.”
Emily (closes door): “How made straight?” (she walks over to him from behind carefully) “is he paying you all that money?”
Lopez: “No, not exactly. But all will be well more or less, but it is rather in the melting pot for the moment.”
Emily: “I don’t understand you. Before you went to see my father, you were so clear and positive about your terms. How do you mean in the melting pot?”
Lopez (shouts): “Please do not ask me to explain it!”
Emily: “But I do ask. I must know what will happen. Be plain with me.”
Lopez (high-pitched half-scream): “All right, of one thing I shall be plain: Your father is a mean and vindictive old screw, Emily, who drives a bargain as hard as a flint and with all that he is a sanctimonious as a Quaker and as sly as a gypsy and you know what? I wish that the old brute were dead and at the devil.” (sits down).
Emily (intense feeling of hatred): “How dare you? Wish him dead to you so you could get your greasy hands on his money so as you got them on on me.”
Lopez: “Oh, and how you itched for them.”
Emily (disgusted): “You coward to say it. (she turns round) You coward to insult my father behind his back. You hate him because he was right about you from the start. He said you were a foreigner, an alien, a creature of prey, and he was right. You deceived me. You seduced me and all for money. Yes, you seduced me.”
Lopez (laughs sneeringly): “Oh, never before we were married, my dear.”
She gulps.
Lopez (imitating a whining tone) “And how how you loved it when I did begin. I mean you you whimpered and squealed for more and more . . . ” (he gets up and goes over to her and overbears her with a sense of his body)
Emily (pushes him away): “Coward. Reptile. You spit upon my father and you’ll dance on his grave if you cold, but now that he has in some way saved you, all you do is wiggle and spit your puny venom like some worm trying to imitate a snake.”
He puts his head on her cheek.
Emily: “Don’t you dare touch me.”
Lopez moves back half-supercilious. He takes his hand lightly off.
Lopez: “Time was when you doted on me. Emily. And you would still if things had gone right. How typical.”
She is standing by the door, leaning against it, gasping, crying as if she has been hit.

Snarling sexual taunting

Lopez (continues): “of a woman to blame the troubles of her own heat (she makes an anguished sound) has caused on the poor serpent in the grass.”

So he is Satan who overspent for her (e.g., his own fatuity in buying what he could not afford but her lapping it up, and the father so sceptical behind). She groans and cries and slaps him.

Scene in Happerton’s office where Wharton ascertains job is real. The company sells guns for wars which will never cease. This is completely invented by Raven and speaks home to what happened in Latin and South America due to macho male culture and the counter-revolutionary fascist capitalist spy and military organizations of the US (and UK too).

This is a darkly funny joke. Raven has specified Trollope’s version (just a manager) so that Lopez is to sell metal for guns. Happerton Mills says such jobs cannot go out of style: these South American countries are ever destroying one another and their company grows rich by selling guns to all. This does present the usual condemnation of those who grow rich over colonialist wars by selling guns in another light. Instead of the gun-runners being blamed as making the war possible, those who buy the guns are made the instigators or those who are carrying on because they want to. How Raven loathed war and militarism and all its effects on society and male behavior is seen in one of his reviews.

Episode 28: Homecoming, Scene 10: Happerton’s office

Establishment shot: two men on either side of a desk, one is Mr Wharton.

Happerton: “It is I assure you Mr Wharton a very great opening for Lopez and as his friend I am very pleased that he’s taking it up.”
Wharton: “The concern is genuine, Mr Happerton?”
Happerton: “As genuine as concerns in Guatemala can be.”
Wharton (a close up on his face) nods (sceptical or cynical look)
Happerton: “That is to say, Mr Wharton, there must always be some element of risk.”
Wharton: “What risk?”
Happerton: “Metal Piping Limited, sir, will deal with guns, small cannon for the most part, the guns themselves in their kind are genuine, but there is always a risk that the supply of wars may dry up.”
Wharton (smiles): “Not in South America, I think,”
Happerton: “A shrewd point, Mr Wharton.”
Wharton: “Thank you, Mr Happerton. Here is another: If you are satisfied as to Lopez’s competence, why do you insist that he invest 5000 pounds?”
Happerton: “We can do with the extra capital, and if he has money invested in the thing, he will manage it that much better.”
Wharton: ” A manager, he positively will be, provided the money be invested?”
Happerton: “Manager he will be and leave for Guatemala by the next packet.” (A look in his face shows he knows what Wharton wants; the far-distant absence forever of Lopez.)
Wharton: “Thank you, Mr Happerton.”

In the next scene Lopez goes to Sexty’s office, and finds Sexty drunk; Lopez is bringing the news of 6000 pounds; they will split the extra 4000 before he goes to Guatemala. So he is remaining faithful to his partner, no?

The third briefer thread allows for picturesque scenes at Matching; we return to the familiar boudoir the old Duke made for a young Lady Glencora; to the window before which we have watched so many characters sit, read, look out, respond to someone. The scene between Happerton and Wharton is juxtaposed to three of these, very short.

We have already seen Silverbridge come home from Venice, very warm and loving between him and Duchess. Now we have a lovely picturesque melancholy moment of Lady Mary and Lady Mabel Grex, made so alluringly beautiful in that familiar window seat at Matching by idyllic colors (greens and blues) and sunlight.

In mood this fuctions like the opening moments of the different scenes where the characters stretch out hands to one another (Duke to Bungay, Duchess to Duke, Lopez in the end to Sextus, the Duchess to Marie, to her son). It’s a a strong emotional contrast to the ravaging disloyalties and perversity of all else we are seeing.

Mary (Kate Nichols) and Lady Mabel Grex (Anna Carteret)

The Duchess is again not sympathetic here, or is a Philistine who does not want Lady Mabel and her son to go walking (nor Mary to inveigle for this) as she wants him to be able to go after “higher” (richer, more powerfully connected) women.

To briefly sum up what follows: Marie comes home to hug the Duchess (see above) and says Phineas is even now speaking for Duke in Parliament; then great climactic moment of Phineas’s speech, then Lopez ostracized out of club (very ugly and spoken by Dolly Longestaffe [Donald Pickering] who is no angel himself; and then Happerton tells Lopez he’s not wanted in front of his father-in-law.

The last episode (30) shows Lopez visiting Sexty having made up his mind to do away with himself, all gallantry and elegance (though also like a vampire). His last scene with Emily (instead of her love for Arthur, it’s her pregnancy complacency we see and also a resurgence of affection for Lopez which comes from earlier in the book and in the still which opens this blog above). Then we get Lopez’ss face at the ticket window, the hard rain leading into the train station, and the close up of his hard still enigmatic face. Then the Inspector’s visit to tell her and her father, her faint (and offstage miscarriage); then the Duchess and Bungay trying to tell the Duke Lopez’s death not his fault.

This last scene is a glossing over to normalization many viewers would cling to with the Duchess’s words telling the Duke it’s a disease to think on these things. I think of Hamlet. In the book she does acknowledge they all did “rather run over” Lopez (like the literal train that he throws himself under). For the attentive viewer, Lady Glen in her dealings with Lopez is seen to have done wrong. She is all repentance in front of her husband, but it’s more for someone who regrets suffering now. They dressed her extravagantly and sexily (even wearing a push-up bra, the only time in the series) when dealing with Lopez. She used him to feed her vanity. Trollope too criticizes her strongly, a reality not enough emphasized when people discuss the book.

The last scene of father and daughter (father won, the kiss as she goes obediently to bed) and father and Sextus, an ironical ending where Sexty’s flattering lies working more efficiently than Lopez’s aggressive proud drive.

The part at the end does try for some sympathy for Lopez: he looks weaker, weary, and in the film (unlike the book), it is Parker who comes up with the idea of blackmailing Wharton through Emily, Parker who enunciates the principle, and Lopez just obeys (though with great panache and pride); Lopez in close ups looks pained.

The suicide is not done the kind of brilliant justice to it is in the book. As depressions in Trollope are glossed over, so this nadir of the males in the series. Ferdinand has been the most defeated; he started with least. And Raven has Palliser pronounce some sorrowful words for him that to end as tatters and burnt scattered flesh and bones at such a place is a sobering destiny. The last scenes of Lopez appearing mad move so swiftly and in the dark, all I could get was his face in front of the window through the rain the night before:


So I couldn’t get that final still of his darkened eyes, but I remember them and think many viewers would, though only by watching carefully do you realize through much of the series Wilson played Lopez as someone who rarely made eye contact with anyone.

See detailed summary of episodes and scenes in the comments.

Next up: 12:24


For previous blogs: 1:1 – 8:17, 9:18-10:20, 10:21 (Companionship and refuge, Duke and Duchess in Conflict), 11:22

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Latest Oxford Persuasion

Dear Friends,

Although my Reveries under the Sign of Austen is intended for blogs about and connected to Jane Austen, I thought I’d continue to make announcements of online publications and progress in other venues here too.

So the editor of the Jane Austen Center Magazine has added two more to the series of reviews of editions of Austen for the last 25 years that I wrote:

Sense and Sensibility

Pride and Prejudice

Mansfield Park



These are abridged versions of the blogs I wrote for Ellen and Jim have a blog, too: the editor eliminated the material on the movies, and changed the pictures. I’m also proud of my sleuthing article on Jane Leigh Perrot.

I did accomplish a discernible amount of work this summer too. I reached p 57 of my projected book, The Jane Austen movies: Her first and her last! It’s now to be on just the S&S and P&P movies.

Jane and Elizabeth (Suzannah Harker, Jennifer Ehle) walking and talking

Elinor (Hattie Morahan) bidding adieu to Edward

I read Jane Austen in translation and about her in translation as well as writing about this aspect of her existence amongst us. And an essay, Jane Austen in French was accepted by another online magazine, this one usually about poetry (but is not Austen poetry): Ekleksographia #3, Fall 20009. After it is put up on the Net, I’ll put a copy of it in my Jane Austen Miscellany.

I so enjoyed reading Austen in French this summer, that this piece is one of my happy things.

Karen Joy Fowler’s Jane Austen Book Club in French!

I sent off a proposal to a committee of JASNA empowered to choose people and topics for the break-out sessions for the 2010 Portland, Oregon AGM on Northanger Abbey. “People that marry can never part:” real and romantic gothicism in Northanger Abbey.

The genuinely troubled Eleanor Tilney (Catherine Walker) (’07 NA)

And my proposal for a paper to be given at a session at the coming ASECS in Albuquerque, “‘He said, she said’: Rape in 18th-Century Law, Fiction, and Moralist Writing was accepted. It’s on Richardson’s Clarissa, and this time I’ll set the book in the context of 18th century novels (French and English) as well as look at a few novels centered on rape (The Raj Quartet) more recently.
Daphne Manners (Susan Woolridge) crawling back from rape (’84 Jewel in the Crown)

The title: “‘What right have you to detain me here?’: Rape in Clarissa.

The last 25 years of Austen studies has had its less happy aspect and I’ve written about that too: in The Sexing Up of Jane Austen (linked to my friend, Diana’s blog, The Selling of Jane Austen).

A moment of pathos in the 07 NA: Isabella Thorpe (Carrie Mulligan) not yet aware she’s been had


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“It is by reading . . . that we imbibe those sentiments & gain that knowledge which by degrees is wrought into the very texture of our minds . . . ” (Anna Barbauld)

The original cover, focusing on the main
lovers, Daphne Manners, Hari Kumar, with Ronald Merrick just behind. To the side an Indian soldier.

Sarah Layton (Geraldine James) from series

Dear Friends,

It was just around 2 years ago that I finished watching the 13 part BBC mini-series, The Jewel in the Crown, screenplay by Ken Taylor and was so moved I wanted to read all four books so I could re-see the films and get more out of them. I just love these costume dramas.

I knew I didn’t have the time with all the other projects I was doing, my teaching, online participation (to say nothing of blogs and beloved friends), and I do love to listen to novels read aloud in my car. So for about 2 years on and off now I’ve been listening steadily to this quartet. The readers I listened to were Sam Dastor (The Jewel in the Crown), Garard Green (The Day of the Scorpion), and Richard Brown (The Towers of Silence, A Division of the Spoils).

A recent cover

I can’t say they were great readers in the sense of making me feel I was in the presence of a stage with acting going on before my eyes, but they did read well dramatically and I was so moved at times. I was sad when the fourth one came to an end.

A fine new joint edition, with yet another sort of cover

I’ve wanted to write about them or the mini-series but never have done because I’m floored by all there is to say. They have been most unfairly and wrongly maligned; they are among the great series of novels of the 20th century. As I wrote on my Reveries under the Sign of Austen blog, I’ve had a proposal accepted to do a paper at the coming ASECS in Albuquerque, “‘What right have you to detain me here?’: Rape in Clarissa, where (among other things) I mean to explore attitudes towards rape and how rape is used in fiction, and tonight watching Part 1 of the mini-series, it struck me this is a another huge novel centrally hinging on a rape. The first sentence of the third paragraph of Volume I runs:

This is the story of a rape, of the events that led up to it and followed it and of the place in which it happened. There are the action, the people, and the place; all of which are interrelated but in their totality incommunicable in isolation from the moral continuum of human affairs.

Daphne Manners (Susan Woolridge) calling to Lilly Chatterjee as she crawls up the stairs after having been raped and run back home

Indeed I’ve already bought myself a rare book on rape in 18th century English novels (Mary Hays’s The Victim of Prejudice); from the middle of the 19th through 20th centuries; apparently it was a topic much avoided after 1790, not that it was common before.

So I feel anew the desire to call attention to these books. What can I say about them. Let me begin with the unusual focus on women as narrators for a far-reaching post-colonialist book. The first volume of Jewel in the Crown opens
with three very long first person narratives told by aging women: Miss Edwina Crane, a virgin spinster who found a life in India where she couldn’t in England but when the troubles came was ejected, nearly beaten and saw her friend murdered and ended a suicide; Sister Ludmilla, probably a prostitute’s daughter in Germany who also found a life in India but remained a pariah; and then Lily Chatterjee, enduring the scorn of the whites, but herself a powerful decent woman, all trying to tell the story of a rape of another outcast girl, Daphne, outcast because ugly and so sincerely idealistic. It ends on letters by her Lilly Chatterjee, the upper caste Indian woman she lives with in the novel, good friend of her aunt, Lady Edith Manners (wife of a powerful English man, governor of the province) and Daphne’s own letter explaining how she came to be raped at its close. Scott is in the tradition of males in drag (beginning with Defoe and Richardson), but it’s fascinating how these are central.

As the novel moves on, we continue to have females at the center. Sarah Layton is the series’ real heroine: she is a true Elinor Dashwood character, appearing conventional and conservative in public, but living a wholly individual and radical life (she too has an Indian man as her lover), good, decent, loving, strong; she tells a good deal of the second volume (Scorpion where her sister, Susan, goes over the edge into insanity); It’s here we meet Count Brownofsky (played inimitably by Eric Porter) and how he loves her :). Towards the end of Volume II, her elderly aunt, Mabel Layton’s companion, Barbie Batchelor is introduced and by the Vol 3 is the center of the third novel, another spinster, gentle, retiring, a figure of integrity, who is destroyed by Sarah’s vicious mother, Mildred (out of jealousy and spite and scorn). Barbie was played by Peggy Ashcroft in the mini-series.

Peggy Ashcroft as Barbie

Hilary Spurling’s great literary biography (which I’ve read in the last two years also) goes a long way towards explaining all sorts of facets of Scott’s work. With respect to his use of heroines, we learn Scott was bisexual. His early life was spent as a gay person, not quite in the closet and he had xperiences very like those Simon Raven tells of in Fielding Gray. That is, he was severely demoted and almost throw out of his niche in the army once someone snitched on him (though it was fine for him to do all the sordid sex he wanted with women prostitutes say); his early life as a poet and his early friends and lovers before the draft were men except for their wives with whom he had close friendships. He was super-dominated by a frustrated mother; his father was a business failure and she lived vicariously through him. Then he resolved to live a heterosexual life, married, had children and worked a long hard time in a regular job (like Trollope), in his case as an accountant slowly also trying to write for publication and getting his stuff placed.

Paul Scott as a young man

His career cannot be said to have taken off at any time; it was just success d’estime for English readers were not really interested in the realities of India, or war (like he worked in the supply side of the way, very necessary for winning a battle and equally exhausting but not filled with phony heroics) — until the Booker Prize gave him a spotlight with Staying On, the movie was made (the Johnson and Howard movie was made before the adaptations of Jewel in the Crown), and then the TV adaptation was picked up, partly because the 1970s and 80s were a remarkable period for film adaptation on TV and single one-off plays (under umbrellas words like “Shades of Darkness).

Why is his sexuality, marginality and very late success significant? Not only is Hari Kumar (the young Indian man educated to be an English man) is a cynosure or alter ego for Scott; so is Ronald Merrick (the police officer who tries to destroy Kumar out of sexual jealousy over Daphne but also a desire to be Kumar’s lover and racial self-contempt therefor). I was very bothered by the way Merrick was portrayed in the film, especially the cruel punishment at the end and depiction of him as what was evil about the Raj (everyone else being so good and well-meaning at least in the film — not in the book). Now I know that in the book Scott has compassion for Merrick too, and we are to feel Merrick committed suicide because for him there was no place to return to in England no place to survive in India once the Raj was dissolved.

In the first novel, there are more than a few hints Merrick is gay, is a man of real taste and sensitivity outside his job, is courting Daphne Manners not because he wants her, but because he’s after Hari Kumar, and it’s a love-hate relationship compounded of his exclusion from upper class English schools and manners and education. Scott experienced just this sort of thing: he was sent to a phony public school of a type that grew up in the later 1940s and cost a great deal, gave a classical education of sorts to boys, but no certificate, no connections, and deeply twisted resentments and ideals from being outsiders in such an environment of seething aspiration given phony substitutes.

Similarly, though in the four novels of Raj Quartet though, we first hear of Barbie Batchelor towards the end of Volume 2, and then only tangentially as the woman Martha Layton had living with her, a woman kind of to her granddaughters, she become a major presence early in the series. She first emerges as a full-blown personality thematized importantly for the book at the
opening of Volume III, Towers of Silence.

Ken Taylor has taken a character from Book 3 who is major and restructured the narrative to make her major dramatically. And as a measure of the difference even between the apparently faithful film, and its book-source: most people who watched, remember the brilliant performance of Peggy Ashcroft as Barbie Batchelor.

Throughout all four volumes we go over the same small group of events: the rape of Daphne Manners, the assault on Edwina Crane and murder of her male Indian companion-teacher (whose name I can’t spell and can’t find just now in the book). The consciousness the first book is divided among the women (with some parts given to Robin White); the second book has Sarah as a strong presence, the third Barbie Batchelor.

Each time we experience the events from the perspective of different people, from English women (mostly officer and adminstrator’s wives and daughters and sisters) to men, from Muslim politicians, and we get an array of brilliant pen portraits. I’ll point out Mildred Layton who seems to be alcoholic, a mean woman, narrow and sexually demanding of a subaltern while her husband is in prison camp, but even she is given sympathy here too, we see is attractive to Guy Perron, without Scott sentimentalizing what she is.

Judy Parfitt as Mildred Layton, cold, utterly without feeling for others

Scott removes circularly through his material again and again, a characteristic very like women’s novels. In Vol 3 he introduces Mr & Mrs Smalley (the name recalls Dickens’s uses of semi-allegorical names) and set up the situation we will meet 10 years later in Staying On (a gem which won the Booker Prize). Here they are satirized figures; in the coda novel they are poignant and again the story is told from Lucy Smalley (played by Celia Johnson in a fine movie, with Trevor Howard as her husband) and her perspective as someone whose husband never achieved high rank or any solid money.

Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard as the Smalleys in Staying On

(This one I have read on my own twice; I’ve never had the nerve to assign it to students. They wouldn’t understand and take it as offending everyone when it tells hard truths.)

There is also an extended third person free indirect presentation of Teddy Bingham. Scott does present male presences and voices, but usually not through first person narrative: when he does they are presenting
reports to superiors for public consumption. Hari never gets to tell his story directly

Art Malik as Hari Kumar

Since Jim was in the car with me when I was listening (long treks back and forth trying to get his Jaguar’s seat belt fixed), and agreed to listen, he asked me questions, and, as usual, they are interesting. Like, why spend such inordinate time over this dullard whose idealism is a function of a set of naive prejudices, prejudices which make him ideally fit to be a lower ranking British officer in a British colony. Surely, we don’t need to be told what are the densities and naiveities of this kind of mindset at this point.

Well in part I think we may do — colonialism is more than alive and well; it’s making horrifying wars. The rhetoric justifying these calamities in the US (whose government representing a cabal in the US with other governments representing cabals in other European countries) is often the same mix of naive idealism and supposed pragmaticism.

But it’s more than that. Like Trollope, Scott wants to go into male psychologies he is alien from, watch their delusions, their mistakes. Scott is much more fascinated by their impaired sexuality (as he sees it), the not-so-hidden secrets of vulnerability and hurt ego. Scott was bisexual so he has subrisive tone towards Susan Layton’s way of controlling Teddy Bingham’s sexual aggression (such as it is). (She marries him.) What a jackass is this heterosexual male Scott seems to suggest; look at him. The equivalent in Trollope is Fawn. Class, class, class, how it is at the heart of this. Susan Layton can keep Teddy off since he perceives her as a white upper caste female.

Scott’s way is to intersperse the first person narratives: speeches, letters, meditations, reports interwoven with the subjective story rehearsed repeatedly from different angles, each one identifiable not only as an individual but a member of a class, a race, an ethnic group, sexually (her position there whether daughter, wife, mother, sister, and of whom — for Scott knows women are connected to the public world still through men mostly).

Elizabeth Avery, Scott’s wife who became a novelist in her own right late in life (The Margaret Days

By the end of the third volume I came to love Barbie and Mabel, her protector someone who has enabled her to flourish, stand up for herself, be efficient. And then Mabel dies. Here is a story of an employer who has been a benign figure to her companion, and whose companion has become a quietly beloved friend. Now that’s she’s suddenly gone Barbie finds herself again disrespected, and thrown off. Mabel who is protected by status and money, was able to withdraw from her world altogether, keep a cold mean step-daughter-in-law at bay (the actress playing Mildred Layton is the same actress who played Lady Catherine de Bourgh brilliantly in the 1979 P&P), Judy Parfitt) spend all her time gardening, and use Barbie as a barrier).

It’s unbearably moving the way Scott slowly depicts the death and then aftermath. But it also figures forth the positions of the people for each is further embedded in a complicated history, and Mabel and Barbie are decent humane people who treat their Indian servants with respect. Not Mildred; once she’s in charge she’ll kick and beat down and scorn. Lady Catherine de Bourgh updated.

Some parts of A Division of the Spoils seemed to me a falling off. Scott wanted too much to include wider history and didn’t dramatize it through the story and characters quite enough (though I learned a lot). But it has power too, and ends memorably. It opens with a man determined to commit suicide by drowning himself in a bath; how Guy Perron attempts to save him and after he manages at first, the man does throws himself off a roof. a man driven wild and desperate by the job he is forced to stay in and travel around the world obeying. Scott uses this opening to begin to lay bare the undergirding of the colonialist empire and its miseries in individuals. His central consciousness is also for the first time an ideal kind of male hero — perhaps this is one of the causes of its relative weakness.SarahGuy
Geraldine James as Sarah, Charles Dance as Guy

The concluding section of the fourth novel is told by Sarah Layton, our conventional heroine, and it is almost unbearable in its stoic account of of loss. At the end the Muslims and Hindus are hacking one another to death, and in a train on the way to Ranpur Ahmed Kassim to save the English people in their car and Minnie, the ayah for Susan’s little boy (and because he cannot save himself) gives himself up to a horrible death. What is most striking is how Sarah cannot do anything to change her situation vis-a-vis the family she has found herself with, and her only hope is to move back to England where she may live with an aunt-cousin (if the person will take her in). She has such a beautiful soul: by this time she is quietly promiscuous, and like Daphne at the opening having an affair with an Indian man, in her case, Ahmed, only she does it discreetly, and so alone when it comes to any permanent companionship. Ahmed was to be the groom of the Nawab’s daughter whom Sarah was bringing out of her shyness. Her one hope is her father and they are alike, but he hasn’t the strength to talk it.

We are made to feel she has come to love India, it is what has made her.

A shot near the end of the mini-series

As I’ve seen the film adaptation, I know how the book ends for its terrible anti-hero-villain, Ronald Merrick, and that the final scene takes us to the wreck of Hari Kumar’s life. It struck me that Merrick plays the same role as Widmerpool in Powell’s Dance to the Music of Time: they both stand for all that a decent person hates in this book’s perception of modern experience.

All on this vast canvas which so brilliantly analyzes the politics of colonialism, sexism, racism, sexual orientation, family and crony-capitalism, really nothing is left out and all is connected. Probably my favorite books will be the 1st (the story of the rape told by several women narrators) and the third (Barbie Batchelor’s book).

One problem I’ve noticed with the mini-series is that since voice-over is eschewed, we lost the centrality of the women, and the first three parts of the series may be seen as a conflict between the two marginalized males of the British Empire and Raj, the grammar school boy, Ronald Merrick, played unforgettably by Tim-Piggot Smith, and the Indian turned Englishman despised for his skin color, played so poignantly by Art Malik. The promotional stills encourage this and are daring in bringing out the homoeroticism of Merrick:


But sexual exploitation and jealousy and fear is part of racism and classism, central to it when it comes to colonialism, and this is a rape story of not only Daphne, but Hari, Edwina, Barbie Batchelor, Susan Layton, Ahmen, and in the end even Merrick himself comes in for pity. Count Bronofsky has the last words of the novel in a translation we are to suppose he gives Guy Perron of an Indian poet. I shall look forward to seeing how the series ends (I’ve forgotten) and comparing.


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