Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire Heroes
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
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By the 1850s, the Victorians had developed a deep-seated ambivalence toward heroes and heroism. Rapid changes in society, religion, and culture compelled some writers to search for new heroes, while other writers questioned whether the hero could exist in the modern world. Mid-Victorian authors, drawing on or reacting against classical, chivalric, and Romantic models, revealed their societys paradoxical feelings on this subject. Anthony Trollopes Barsetshire novels also reflect this Victorian cultural and literary ambivalence toward heroism. Trollope, following a trend stretching back to the origins of the English novel, undermines any belief in classical heroism. In the first two Barsetshire novels Trollope employs a mock-heroic technique and an intrusive narrator to undercut Archdeacon Grantlys comic posture as an epic hero. In Framley Parsonage and The Last Chronical Trollope seriously studies the psychology and character of the Reverend Josiah Crawley, demonstrating his failure, through self-martyring pride, to achieve heroic stature. Every Barsetshire novel includes a variation on the not-quite-heroic young gentleman. Trollope, reacting against the Romantic hero and conventional heroes of Victorian popular fiction, creates young men who always strive for, yet fail to achieve, true heroism. Keywords Military publications, Reports, Periodicals.
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