Monday, May 02, 2011

Fox Hunt Found.

In the comments to a wise and perceptive posting about Anthony Trollope,  Vicki Baker,  Joshua Kosman and Patrick Vaz lament Trollope's foxhunts. Here's JK:
Yeah, the fox hunts....God help us. They're tedious, and they're a cheap plot trick on those occasions when Trollope wants to kill off a character, or give someone a long recuperation in the home of the person he wants them to fall in love with. I didn't mention them because — well, I figured I'd let people discover them on their own.
Well, not always. I'm re-reading Can You Forgive Her?, because I plan to read all of the Palliser novels this year, and just stumbled across the fox hunt, which comes at about page 200 in the print edition I'm reading. There's more to it than cheap tricks, at least this particular fox hunt.

This fox hunt introduces Burgo Fitzgerald, a major character in the novel; he was the first serious suitor for Lady Glencora, who is now married to Plantagenet Palliser. And we learn a good deal about Burgo's character and that of George Vavasor, the first serious suitor for the hand of Alice Vavasor, his cousin, the character who may or may not be forgiven by the novel's close. Burgo rides his horse to death; Vavasor keeps to himself on the hunt, far from the pack of both dogs and men, and is among those who are in for the kill. He also rides, then sells, a fine horse for less than its value because of its bad reputation.

Those things are not insignificant. Perhaps the other Trollope fox hunts are cheaper and more tedious!


Joshua Kosman said...

Fair enough — there are good foxhunts and bad foxhunts, in literature as (I presume) in life. My problems with Trollope's foxhunts are a) that he assumes an interest on the reader's part that is equal to his own, and b) when he uses them to injure or kill a character.

I don't remember Can You Forgive Her? well enough to remember this particular foxhunt, but it does sound blameless.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I am sure that if you are an English gentleman, or if you were once a teenage girl who loved horses, the fox hunts are more interesting than if you are, or were, not.

jade said...

Want to read unjustly ignored, deceptively simple, humorous and spunky stories of fox hunts? I recommend Anglo-Irish female writers Edith Somerville and Martin Ross's The Irish R.M.

Lisa Hirsch said...

Thanks for the suggestion, though I'm rather more interested in Trollope than in fox hunts!