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The Way We Live Now (Wordsworth Classics) by…

The Way We Live Now (Wordsworth Classics) (edition 2004)

by Anthony Trollope (Author)

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2,475504,511 (4.19)4 / 243
THE WAY WE LIVE NOW (1875) by Anthony Trollope is possibly his most influential novel, a satire, and a biting exposé of the financially interconnected British Victorian society. The arrival to London of the mysterious Augustus Melmotte who offers brilliant opportunities for financial investments affects a varied cast of personages, and upturns their lives, loves, and relationships.… (more)
Title:The Way We Live Now (Wordsworth Classics)
Authors:Anthony Trollope (Author)
Info:Wordsworth Editions (2004), Edition: New ed, 800 pages
Collections:Your library

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The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

  1. 00
    Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (morryb)
  2. 00
    The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James (Crypto-Willobie)
  3. 00
    Money by Émile Zola (littlegreycloud)
    littlegreycloud: Augustus Melmotte, Aristide Saccard, Bernie Madoff: plus ça change...

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Showing 1-5 of 49 (next | show all)
This is a classic. It is more serious than most of Trollope's other novels, which find wonderful humor in his characters' very realistic foibles and circumstances. Here he channeled some Dickensian social conscience. I did miss the full Trollope humor, but since the story features a con man and his unlucky victims, it is understandable that he would adopt a more serious approach so as not to seem to be toying with his readers (any writers' unavoidable con). Yet the tone is not at all heavy or humorless.

This long book is largely about money, credit and greed, and also about English society, women and maybe Jews, around 1870. First, the Jews. Several characters are Jews. Some uglier characters are blithely uninterested in seeing any humanity in a Jew beyond the worst of the stereotype, and several Jewish characters manifest elements of the type, mostly favorable elements. I did not find Trollope antisemitic but instead sympathetic. But I am not Jewish. Second, the women. Trollope is 100% sensitive to the poor circumstances of women in society and the schemes and concessions into which they were [and are] often forced in order to live reasonably. But I am not a woman.

The financial aspect is timely. The prime mover, one Melmotte, is a type of confidence man as common now as then. He is expert at getting and spending other people's money. The money comes from easy bank credit and from people who would prefer to make their living by investing their wealth with dubious persons in schemes that promise a big payoff, largely in preference to producing anything useful. That, assisted by a touch of fraud which need not come to light if the strategy succeeds. Melmotte spends the money on himself and exactly and expertly on those who will advance his aims in finance, society and politics. Here is the genius: if he succeeds, then he is wealthy. If he fails, then everyone else loses, and the schemer moves on and starts again, losing little or nothing. It is better than gambling.

When a business fails or personal finances collapse due to very bad luck or catastrophe, an honest person with skin in the game may be forgiven by society if not by creditors. Thus we have generous bankruptcy laws. One honest bankruptcy is understandable, a second concerning, a third offensive, a fourth foul, a fifth villainous, and a sixth positively presidential (2017). But I am not a businessman.

If you are new to Trollope, then by all means begin with the Barsetshire Chronicles, six novels which may be fully enjoyed independently. The first two, The Warden and Barchester Towers, were produced for TV in seven episodes by the BBC in 1982 and are available on Netflix. The BBC production, with Donald Pleasence, Nigel Hawthorne, Alan Rickman and others, is fully delicious. If you must have a romance, then start with Doctor Thorne, the third novel in the series, also available from Netflix in a fine British production. By the way, the BBC offered the present novel in four episodes also available on Netflix, well made. ( )
  KENNERLYDAN | Jul 11, 2021 |
Re-read for the second time with the Trollope Society online book club. This should have ended with the death of Melmotte; the final chapters merely repeat scenarios which have played out repeatedly already.

This has to be the longest book I have ever read. There were many sections, including the last fifteen discussions of how Roger felt about Hetta and Paul, which I would have cut, had I edited this book. Hetta was sadly lacking in personality, but Georgiana was satisfyingly dreadful. Quite gripping in a Victorian sort of way. ( )
  pgchuis | Jun 27, 2021 |
In Trollope's (1815-82) longest novel, he skewers an English society that worships money, and he does so skilfully enough that the reader doesn't mind hating the characters as long as s/he can find out what happens next. ( )
  Jimbookbuff1963 | Jun 5, 2021 |
A nostaligic read due to how many Victorian novels I read in my teens — it felt great to simplistically follow the author's direction in which characters to like and dislike (and to like and dislike with such passion -- looking to you Felix!) A very fun read.
  booms | Mar 16, 2021 |
In The Way We Live Now, author Anthony Trollope provides a sweeping and skewering look at the social and economic conditions prevailing in mid-Victorian era England. Intended as a scathing satire of the financial markets, the literary and journalism establishment, class divisions, gender restrictions and stereotypes, and the political system, the novel focuses on Augustus Melmotte, an investor and businessman recently arrived in London with a shady past and grand schemes to get rich quickly by building an American railroad. While most of the other characters in the story, both the noble and the low-born, do not understand the source of his power, they all to varying degrees fall under the sway of The Great Financier. Of course, very few of these sycophantic and trusting souls remain unscathed when the myriad arrangements do not quite work out as planned.

Although the main plot of the novel is easy enough to describe, working one’s way this massive tome is another thing altogether. Written in 100 chapters, this was one of the last novels from that time period to be released in serialized form, with twenty monthly installments in this case. (In fact, the serialization apparently sold very poorly and the entire novel was released before the installments were finished.) That is an important thing to understand because the full novel runs between 700-800 pages—depending on the edition—which is substantially longer than necessary to tell the tale. Indeed, despite the presence of myriad subplots involving the secondary characters, as well as the author’s occasional philosophical musings, this is a book that could have easily been 300 pages shorter had it been intended as a self-contained novel in the first place.

Which is not to say that the novel is without its own unique charms. Trollope was an insightful and playful critic of what he saw as the excesses and follies of British Victorian society and he has produced a volume that ably chronicles those issues. He is particularly delightful when dissecting the foolishness of the class system that existed at the time and, if he was still alive today, he might be even regarded by some as a feminist. Beyond that, though, I am not sure he really breaks much new ground here relative to William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, which was published more than a quarter-century earlier. Also, the plot device involving Melmotte’s financial schemes stretched credulity, even for a satirical novel. So, while I cannot say I am sorry to have read this voluminous work, I am not sure the payoff fully justified the effort. ( )
1 vote browner56 | Jan 12, 2021 |
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» Add other authors (11 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Anthony Trollopeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Brooks, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Case, DavidNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Osborne, HughNotessecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sutherland, JohnEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
West, TimothyNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Let the reader be introduced to Lady Carbury, upon whose character and doings much will depend of whatever interest these pages may have, as she sits at her writing-table in her own room in her own house in Welbeck Street.
In the City Mr. Melmotte's name was worth any money,-though his character was perhaps worth but little.
As for Felix,—he had grovelled in the gutters as to be dirt all over. Nothing short of the prolonged sufferings of half a life could cleanse him.
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THE WAY WE LIVE NOW (1875) by Anthony Trollope is possibly his most influential novel, a satire, and a biting exposé of the financially interconnected British Victorian society. The arrival to London of the mysterious Augustus Melmotte who offers brilliant opportunities for financial investments affects a varied cast of personages, and upturns their lives, loves, and relationships.

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