Trollope and the law

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To talk of Anthony Trollope and the law might be to invoke the obvious. Like many of his Victorian counterparts, but even more so, his novels are famously (and infamously) populated with legal actors: solicitors, barristers, judges, and jurors, with the odd criminal and breacher of contract thrown in for good measure. The law also provides the novels with well-wrought plot lines, often involving social and communal regulation of property, and in particular, landed property and questions of inheritance. In addition, Trollope, whose novels exalt truthfulness, honor, and honesty, frequently mined the crimes of forgery and perjury for his plots and for the moral edification he sought to bestow on his readers. All of these have made him a perennial favorite in law-and-literature scholarship from the days of his contemporary reviewers (who so reveled in pointing out his legal errors, especially in Orley Farm, that he famously sought legal counsel for The Eustace Diamonds) to the present. It is perhaps a testament to Trollope's attempts at verisimilitude and his vivid realism that some of his novels have been treated as real-life legal cases, analyzed by lawyers and legal scholars for their insight into their legal questions. Trollope's novels are also renowned for their social observation and their precise portrayal of interpersonal and group interactions. Arguably, no other Victorian author or critic was as aware of the community's ability to make meaning or portrayed these intricate processes as skillfully. But his texts are more than entertaining novels of manners and social mores; the social interactions portray a mode of communal self-regulation and a subtle if rigorous determination of norms.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Cambridge Companion to Anthony Trollope
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780511976063
ISBN (Print)9780521886369
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2010

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Cambridge University Press and Victoria Glendinning, 2011.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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