1815: Anthony Trollope - He Knew He Was Right

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1815: Anthony Trollope - He Knew He Was Right

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Fév 8, 2015, 9:16am

He Knew He Was Right is an 1869 novel written by Anthony Trollope which describes the failure of a marriage caused by the unreasonable jealousy of a husband exacerbated by the stubbornness of a wilful wife. As is common with Trollope's works, there are also several substantial subplots. Trollope makes constant allusions to Shakespeare's Othello throughout the novel. Trollope considered this work to be a failure; he viewed the main character as unsympathetic, and the secondary characters and plots much more lively and interesting. It was adapted for BBC One in 2004 by Andrew Davies as He Knew He Was Right.

Nov 17, 2015, 11:44am

He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope

This is the story of a marriage tormented by pathological jealousy, and also of several courtships, often with difficulties not of the couple's own making, that promise (or do they?) happier marriages.

In the main story line, the man who knew he was right, Louis Trevelyan, falls in love with Emily Rowley when he travels to the Mandarin Islands (a made-up British colony in the Caribbean), the daughter of its governor. They marry in England, but when Colonel Osborne, an old friend of Emily's father who has known her since she was a child, comes calling, Louis turns jealous. He is sure something is going on and wants Emily to apologize and say she won't see the colonel any more, or correspond with him, but Emily, who knows nothing has happened, refuses to apologize for something she hasn't done. Ultimately, they quarrel to such a degree that they can no longer live together, and Trevelyan arranges with his friend Hugh Stanbury that Emily and the son they now have and her sister Nora who has been staying with them take a house in the country with Stanbury's mother and sisters. But Trevelyan can't leave it at that. He hires a former policeman, Bozzle, to find out whether Emily is still seeing or corresponding with Osborne (who, partly, is trying to arrange for her parents to come from the Mandarins to talk to a government committee he serves on). Later, after complications arise, including a visit from Osborne, the sisters and the son go to live with their aunt and uncle, a parson, on the outskirts of London in a decidedly unfashionable neighborhood (and who have the unlikely name of Outhouse). Louis Trevelyan gets more and more obsessed with getting Emily to apologize.

Meanwhile, there are, in true Trollopian fashion, a whole variety of subplots. Nora, Emily's sister, has turned down the very rich Mr. Glascock (who will become Lord Peterborough when his father dies) because she is in love with the much poorer Hugh Stanbury, who writes for a "penny" paper. One of Hugh's sisters, Dorothy, goes to live with her very difficult aunt Stanbury who has previously had taken up Hugh and thrown him away when he went to work for the paper. During the visit, her aunt cooks up a scheme to marry Dorothy to the local minister, Mr. Gibson, but Dorothy turns him down because she doesn't love him. She ultimately falls in love with Brooke Burgess; the Burgesses were the source of Aunt Stanbury's fortune. She has quarreled with the Burgess who lives in the town she lives in but has determined to leave the money she got from the Burgesses to Brooke. But will she approve of Dorothy marrying Brooke when she has decided no Stanbury will get her money? Mr. Gibson, the minister, becomes embroiled in a soap opera with two local sisters, and Mr. Glascock goes to Italy where he meets the nieces of the American ambassador, one of whom he falls in love with. And that's just some of the subplots in this 800+-page tome.

Back to the main plot of Emily and Trevelyan, when Emily's parents ultimately arrive in England, Trevelyan hatches a plot to kidnap his son (he had been threatening, and even tried, to get the son away from Emily earlier) and then hightails it with the son, a toddler, to Italy where he for a time connects with Glascock. He is getting physically and emotionally sicker and sicker and winds up in some out-of-the-way village, on top of a very steep hill. Emily and Nora and their parents follow him, to try to get the son back.

The main plot and the subplots all ultimately resolve themselves, as is typical of Trollope. He apparently did not like this book, ostensibly because he didn't make Trevelyan, the man who knew he was right, sympathetic enough. I disagree that he ought to be sympathetic, although I understand why Trollope wanted him to be, and I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, as much for the very rich subplots as for the main one.

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