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The Way We Live Now (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – 5 Jun 1995

4.7 out of 5 stars 53 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions; New edition edition (5 Jun. 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853262552
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853262555
  • Product Dimensions: 12.4 x 4.6 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

"The Way We Live Now" is Anthony Trollope's radical exploration of the dangers associated with speculative capitalism, edited with an introduction and notes by Frank Kermode in "Penguin Classics". Augustus Melmotte is a fraudulent foreign financier who preys on dissolute nobility - using charm to tempt the weak into making foolish investments in his dubious schemes. Persuaded to put money into a notional plot to run a railroad from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, the capricious gambler Felix Carbury soon becomes one of his victims. But as Melmotte climbs higher in society, his web of deceit - which also draws in characters as diverse as his own daughter Marie and Felix's mother, the pulp novelist Lady Carbury - begins to unravel. A radical exploration of the dangers associated with speculative capitalism, this is a fascinating satire about a society on the verge of moral bankruptcy. Frank Kermode's introduction explores the real-life inspiration for Trollope's masterly satire. This edition also includes detailed notes. Anthony Trollope (1815-82) had an unhappy childhood characterised by a stark contrast between his family's high social standing and their comparative poverty. He wrote his earliest novels while working as a Post Office inspector, but did not meet with success until the publication of the first of his 'Barsetshire novels', "The Warden" (1855). As well as writing over forty novels, including such popular works as "Can You Forgive Her?" (1865), "Phineas Finn" (1869), "He Knew He Was Right" (1869) and "The Way We Live Now" (1875) Trollope is credited with introducing the postbox to England. If you enjoyed "The Way We Live Now", you might like William Makepeace Thackeray's "Vanity Fair", also available in "Penguin Classics". "Trollope's masterpiece ...its examination of how hopes of easy money can corrupt remains relevant today". ("Observer").

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Paperback
Often considered Trollope's greatest novel, this satire of British life, written in 1875, leaves no aspect of society unexamined. Through his large cast of characters, who represent many levels of society, Trollope examines the hypocrisies of class, at the same time that he often develops sympathy for these characters who are sometimes caught in crises not of their own making. Filling the novel with realistic details and providing vivid pictures of the various settings in which the characters find themselves, Trollope also creates a series of exceptionally vibrant characters who give life to this long and sometimes cynical portrait of those who move the country.

Lady Carbury, her innocent daughter Henrietta (Hetta), and her attractive but irresponsible son Felix are the family around which much of the action rotates. They are always in need of money and Lady Carbury writes pap novels to support the family (and Felix's drinking and gambling). In contrast to the Carburys, and just as important to the plot, are the Melmottes. Augustus Melmotte, who has come from Vienna under a cloud of financial suspicions, has acquired a huge estate for himself, his foreign wife, and his marriageable daughter. Boorish, but determined to become a leader of society, Melmotte provides moments of humor for the reader, though he is scorned by an aristocracy which is nevertheless beholden to him for his investments.

When Melmotte becomes the major investor in a plan to build a railway from California to Mexico, Paul Montague, a handsome engineer who has been working in America, arrives in town. A ward of Roger Carbury, cousin of Felix and Hetta, he soon finds himself in love with Hetta--and in competition with Roger for her hand.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have a paperback edition of this already, but it was so good to see that I could download a free one to my kindle. First published in book form in 1875 this had already had a popular run in serialization form. At the time this was considered to be Trollope's best work, and indeed apart from the 'Barchester Chronicles' series you can't really dispute that even today.

What Trollope wrote here will always be relevant, as greed will always be with us. This is a scathing satire on the greed that occurs when people think that they can make a lot of money quickly. The story itself has great characters and is an easy read, despite its length, indeed when I first read this from the library it was the first Trollope novel I ever read, and from there on I have read loads of other of his books over the years, with ones like this that I always return to.

This particular tale is ultimately based around what happened with the 'South Sea Bubble', but we still see the same things occuring again and again, and amazingly people still thinking that the next new thing isn't going to be a bubble. If you have never read Trollope before this is as good a place as any to start, and who knows, you may become a life long fan of this writer. Remember though, this is a 19th Century novel, so you have sub-plots as well as the main plot. I know some people don't like that these days, but I always feel that it gives another dimension, and ultimately when you think about it, in real life you are never dealing with just one thing at a time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
About a year ago I read my first novel by Trollope, 'The Warden'. Somehow, that book captivated me to such a degree that I went on to read all Barshetshire-novels, all Palliser-novels, 'He knew he was right', Trollope's autobiography, to end now with 'The way we live now'. And invariably, I found myself sucked right into the story by the very 'commons sense' (but at the same time very lucid) analysis Trollope makes of his characters' inner feelings and motivations. You may like or dislike his characters, but you are sure to 'understand' them: why they are the way they are and act the way they do.

Is it perhaps because this has become so uncommon in (post-)modern novels that Trollope's books are so charming, so extremely likeable? There's no subterfuge, no need for deep probing (not to say guesswork) into the characters' motivations, Trollope all spells it out clearly for his readers.

Titles say a lot about books, and this is no exception. 'The way we live now' says exactly what Trollope sets out to do: a depiction - and a rather depressing one at that - of the morals of his present day. And it's all the more depressing because of the 'we'... it's not they way 'they' live, no, Trollope readily (and to my mind correctly) addresses all of his contemporaries, and us too.

I will not go into detail about what actually happens in the novel. Suffice it to say that virtually every single character in the book - whether high or low class - is motivated by the kind of emotions we love to condemn (preferably in others): greed, jealousy, deceit, narcisism, egotism, ... and will stop at nothing to satisfy his or her self-interest.
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