Language and Style

Sir David Cecil wrote of Trollope: "... it is in his style that Trollope's relative weakness of imagination shows itself most clearly. Style is the writer's power to incarnate his creative conceptions in a sensible form. And all the great writers have a very marked style... Now of style, in this sense, Trollope has none at all. He writes easily and unaffectedly - and his tone of voice has its own masculine friendliness. But that is all. He has no characteristic cadence, no typical unique use of image and epithet; even at his best we feel that we could paraphrase him without losing anything essential to his flavour." Harsh criticism though this may at first seem, on a second look one must realise that Cecil betrays what he himself writes with those last words: "his flavour", for it is the relative simplicity of language, the avoidance of elaborate metaphor etc. that makes Trollope's writing unique by dint exactly of its unremarkable nature. What he does is make his "style" so invisible that the reader is hardly aware of its existence and therefore totally persuaded of the realism of what is described by the narrator.

On the other hand, Trollope shows in his dialogue a strong grasp of the importance of language which is manifested by the different modes of speech of his various characters, each carefully tailored for their individual personalities. In some instances such as the Proudies' reception of the Thornes' garden party, one feels that were the narrative passages surrounding the dialogue to be taken away, it would be able to stand on its own. However, it is important to note that while the language used by each of the main characters is individual in many ways to him or her, it does not define that character, but is instead just one of the manifestations of the human character behind it.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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