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The Eustace Diamonds n/e (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 12 May 2011
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a masterpiece...a joy to read (Daily Mail)
About the Author
Helen Small is the author of The Long Life, winner of the Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism 2008 and the Rose Mary Crawshay Prize, also 2008. For Oxford World's Classics she has edited George Eliot's The Lifted Veil and Brother Jacob and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights.
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In one sense the central character, Lizzie Eustace, is disappointing; a mean woman trusting to the tolerance of the society whose rules she has violated, a "half-and-half adventuress" as Mr. Sadleir calls her, stupid and cunning at once. Trollope apparently meant to make her more interesting and attractive, but if he had succeeded, if he had depicted a woman capable of tragedy or even of a gay defiance of society, he would have spoiled the form of his novel. As it is, Lizzie Eustace's evasive obstinacy allows time for the other characters to be involved in the repercussions of her original action. What she is not, Lord George Carruthers is an adventurer living consistently by his own code, self-dependent and likable. In Frank Greystock Trollope was only too successful in his self-imposed employment of depriving his "hero" of heroic qualities: Greystock is easily the most caddish of those vacillating young men whom he lets off so lightly in the end. But the triumph of the book is Lord Fawn, weak and selfish and mediocre, unable to solve his own personal or political problems but compelled by the conventions in which he believes and by a certain fundamental decency to attempt his solutions. A more ambitious craftsman than Trollope would probably have disposed of Lizzie Eustace to one of these three men: the fantastic Emilius is one of those irritating red herrings whom Trollope used so freely. Madame Max Goesler, for that matter, is another.
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