The Trollopian Geopolitical Aesthetic

Lauren M E Goodlad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Trollope’s reputation as a formally dull post‐1848 realist persists even though the period of his Palliser series (1864–1879) was characterized by intense political and imperial dynamism. While most of Trollope’s novels during this period exemplify a historically engaged realism, The Eustace Diamonds is distinct for its rare meditation on empire in South Asia—a topic that Trollope seems purposely to have avoided. Trollope’s fourth Palliser novel captures the vexed ethics of a so‐called liberal imperialism through two classic characters—Lucy Morris and Lord Fawn—and their interactions with the Sawab of Mygawb, a “non‐character”who marks the novel’s geopolitical unconscious. But the novel’s most formally distinct features revolve around representation of Lizzie Eustace, who figures Trollope’s uneasiness over the New Imperial era’s neo‐feudal aesthetics. Trollope associated the New Imperialism with Benjamin Disraeli whose Jewish ethnicity he tied to a “conjuring” political agency that could master the theaters of mass democracy and imperial expansion. In The Eustace Diamonds, Lizzie becomes the embodiment of an actively performed New Imperial aesthetic. As a Disraeli‐like schemer, she introduces a stylistic referentiality that is alien to Trollope’s ‘pellucid’ linguistic ideal. Where Trollope’s sociological and global capitalist novels offer nuanced aesthetic capture, Lizzie marks the representational limits of such realism. Like the Sawab, she is the sign of a Trollopian power to stretch form beyond the crude anti‐realism of the racialized scapegoat.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)867-875
JournalLiterature Compass
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2010


Dive into the research topics of 'The Trollopian Geopolitical Aesthetic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this