Robert Pimm

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Lady Anna: cruelty, feminism and power 7/10

How much cruelty can you squeeze into a 150,000 word novel?

A huge amount, if that book is Lady Anna, written by Anthony Trollope at the astonishing rate of 16,500 words a week on a voyage from England to Australia between 25 May and 19 July 1871.

The plot (no spoilers follow) revolves around a conflict: should the eponymous heroine marry a low-born tailor; or a young earl, of her own class?  She loves the tailor – or does she?  Almost every other character in the book, especially her mother, believes she should marry the earl; and subject her to extraordinary pressure to bring about this result.

This is heavy stuff.  As so often with Trollope, his female characters are often more attractive than his men, some of whom, like Anna’s father the earl, are vile:

It must be told that the Earl was a man who had never yet spared a woman in his lust.  It had been the rule, almost the creed of his life, that woman was made to gratify the appetite of man, and that the man is but a poor creature who does not lay hold of the sweetness that is offered to him… The life which he had led no doubt had had its allurements, but it is one which hardly admits of a hale and happy evening.  Men who make women a prey, prey also on themselves. (more…)

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Trollope vs Black Panther: life lessons

I am on a four-stage plane journey, from Vienna to Sharm-el-Sheikh and back via Istanbul.  On the first leg, from Vienna to Istanbul, my Turkish Airlines flight features seat-back video and I choose recent blockbuster “Black Panther”.

Unfortunately the crew make many announcements in numerous languages (bold italic links are to other blogs on this site), interrupting the movie.  So I miss the end of the film, which I am hoping will include astonishing plot twists but fear will mostly be superheroes slugging each other (a fundamental problem with all superhero movies: if two superheroes have a superhero fist-fight, how do you make it interesting?  No-one knows).

On the next three legs, Istanbul-Sharm, Sharm-Istanbul and Istanbul-Vienna, the Turkish Airlines aircraft are older, without seat-back video.  So I haven’t seen the end of “Black Panther”.  Should I make an effort to catch the last 20 minutes?  What do you think?  No spoilers please!

The news gets worse.  On the communal screens on the older planes, the airline shows episodes of Fish Tank Kings.  This is  (more…)

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