The Way We Live Now

Apparently this satirical novel by Trollope is rated as #1 on a list of 50 Books for Our Times by Newsweek,(H/T Nicholas Carr).

I read the novel years ago. Then a couple of years ago UKTV here in NZ ran the TV series starring David Suchet as Augustus Melmotte. excellent performances and dramatization.

Thinking about it, the selection is clear. Trollope dealt in the novel with greed, cupidity, media amongst other matters. In many ways the plot parallels where we are today.

Indeed, Melmotte can be seen as a prototypical Bernie Madoff.

If you have not read the book do so. The TV series is worth a look as well if you can find it on DVD or online. Mmany of the characters have counterparts today and will resonate with readers and viewers.

This marvellous Victorian satire is, I suggest, relevant today with it’s timeless tale of greed.

Considered by contemporary critics to be Trollope’s greatest novel, The Way We Live Now is a satire of the literary world of London in the 1870s and a bold indictment of the new power of speculative finance in English life. ‘I was instigated by what I conceived to be the commercial profligacy of the age,’ Trollope said.

His story concerns Augustus Melmotte, a French swindler and scoundrel, and his daughter, to whom Felix Carbury, adored son of the authoress Lady Carbury, is induced to propose marriage for the sake of securing a fortune. Trollope knew well the difficulties of dealing with editors, publishers, reviewers, and the public; his portrait of Lady Carbury, impetuous, unprincipled, and unswervingly devoted to her own self-promotion, is one of his finest satirical achievements.

His picture of late-nineteenth-century England is a portrait of a society on the verge of moral bankruptcy. In The Way We Live Now Trollope combines his talents as a portraitist and his skills as a storyteller to give us life as it was lived more than a hundred years ago.

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