Sunday, 24 November 2013

In praise of Anthony Trollope.

What makes us read novels more than once? It can hardly be because of a suspenseful plot as we already know how it unfolds. It might possibly be the quality of writing - I have read Thomas Hardy and George Orwell on many an occasion just for the sheer pleasure of the words - but it is a rare writer who can achieve such heights consistently. It might, of course, be familiarity: a kind of literary comfort food - apple tart printed in Times New Roman. 

The question comes to mind because I have just started reading Anthony Trollope's 'Barsetshire Chronicles' sequence of novels again: for the third time. I suspect it is a personal thing, a relationship between characters real and characters fictional, that brings me back to these six linked novels. As I read the books I keep coming across fragments of my life, people I remember and people I have forgotten, incidents and events, even places: all mixed up, shuffled around, out of context as if in a jumbled dream. All in all, a rather pleasant exercise.

I have just embarked on the first in the series - The Warden - and there are another five waiting for me. In a moment of unnecessarily maudlin introspection just now, I thought to myself "this will be the last time I read the sequence". Possibly true but I suspect I can manage one more full reading before I hand in my Reader's Card and leave the Library of Life.

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