Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Barchester Towers: 26% Complete

This is my last week of classes and then I have finals next week, so things have been a little hectic.  As a result, I've only gotten a little reading done in the last couple of days.  But I'm over a quarter of the way done with Barchester Towers so that's good.
Again I have two vocabulary words for you today.  The first is "amenable" which means "open and responsive to suggestion; easily persuaded or controlled." The second is "euphony" which means "the quality of being pleasing to the ears, especially through a harmonious combination of words" (definitions from The New Oxford American Dictionary). I especially liked the second word, because the sounds of words and the way they sound together is something I'm always very aware of in reading and in writing.  If I have two words that don't sound nice together, or start with the same letter, or if I repeat the same word (especially an adjective) within a couple of sentences, I'll often try to change it.
I have a couple of funny quotes for you, which I chose because they illustrate well Trollope's style of humor.  In the first, he is talking about the newly-instated bishop of Barchester.
"Most active clergymen have their hobby, and Sunday observances are his.  Sunday, however, is a word which never pollutes his mouth--it is always 'the Sabbath.' The 'desecration of the Sabbath,' as he delights to call it, is to him meat and drink: he thrives upon that as policemen do on the general evil habits of the community.  It is the loved subject of all his evening discourses, the source of all his eloquence, the secret of all his power over the female heart.  To him the revelation of God appears only in that one law given for Jewish observance."
In the second, Bertie Stanhope (who is notoriously lazy and unfocused) and his sister are talking.  His sister speaks first:
"'To tell you the truth, Bertie, you'll never make a penny by any profession.'
'That is what I often think myself,' said he, not in the least offended. 'Some men have a great gift of making money, but they can't spend it.  Others can't put two shillings together, but they have a great talent for all sorts of outlay.  I begin to think that my genius is wholly in the latter line.'"
And for this last quote, you have to understand one or two things.  First of all, in 1814 Robert Southey composed an epic poem called "Roderick, the Last of the [Visi]goths" and you're probably already familiar with the book by James Fenimore Cooper: The Last of the Mohicans.  In this passage, a dramatically-inclined woman is talking with the bishop about her daughter, who she claims is descended from the Roman emperors.
"'The blood of Tiberius,' said the signora in all but a whisper; 'the blood of Tiberius flows in her veins.  She is the last of the Neros!' The bishop had heard of the last of the Visigoths, and had floating in his brain some indistinct idea of the last of the Mohicans, but to have the last of the Neros thus brought before him for a blessing was very staggering."