Department of English Seminar: Tim Gao
Department of English seminar: Anthony Trollope Ad Hoc (Tim Gao, Oxford)
‘Make it up as you go along’ might seem to us a fairly bad principle for artistic practice or moral behaviour. But it is what Anthony Trollope, to general critical frustration, always insistently described as his novel-writing process. Building on recent studies of the relation between Trollope’s prose style and his representations of cognition, I examine his accounts of improvised plotting and suggest how his characters similarly invent and adjust their moral positions on the fly (for better or worse), working out their possible options in an ethical dilemma at the same time as the author. If the value of the realist novel has often been identified with its empirical or sympathetic knowledge, thinking about Trollope’s spontaneity offers a radically different possibility: that the experience of novel fiction might teach us how to act without knowledge, to live creatively in situations that are still unfolding.
Seminar Room 226
John Woolley Building (A20)
The University of Sydney