And now a brief quiz for Metablogian readers who are familiar with nineteenth-century fiction. I will describe the situation and quote a short excerpt, and you will be required to identify the novelist. Ready? Let's go. Here's the story: a clergyman considers whether to commit a murder. Although he takes no concrete action, he's overcome with guilt about what might have been. Here's a sample of his extensive, tortured musings.
He struggled to drive from his mind and from his eyes the phantom of the terrible deed but that he did not succeed was made evident to himself by the hot clammy drops of sweat which came out upon his brow, by his wakefulness through the livelong night, by the care with which his ears watched for the sound of the young man's coming as though it were necessary that he should be assured that the murder had in truth not been done. Before that hour had come he found himself to be shaking even in his bed; to be drawing the clothes around him to dispel the icy cold, though the sweat did still stand upon his brow; to be hiding his eyes under the bedclothes in order that he might not see something which seemed to be visible to him through the utmost darkness of the chamber. Why then, could he not sleep? Why should he be hot and shiver with cold by turns? Why should horrid phantoms perplex him in the dark?
And the correct answer is? Obviously, it's Russian anguish, the novelist is Fyodor Doestoevsky and the passage is from Crime and Punishment.
Except that it's not. Surprise. It's Anthony Trollope, master of manners, anthropologist of English civilization. The character is not Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, but Thomas Greenwood, D. D.; the novel is Marion Fay and the year is 1882. (Crime and Punishment appeared in Russian in 1866, in English in 1914).
In Dostoevsky's novel, Raskolnikov does the deed right at the outset. There's no murder at all in Marion Fay. As is common in Trollope's last novels, there's a flirtation with boundary-breaking (bigamy in Dr. Wortle's School, pre-marital sex in An Eye for an Eye, interclass marriage in this particular novel), but there's also a withdrawl or hesitation. Marion Fay would have been quite something if Trollope hadn't lost his nerve and had let Greenwood pull the trigger. And an even stronger piece of fiction if Lord Hampstead had actually married the low-born tubercular Quaker lass and if Hampstead's sister Frances had married the Post Office clerk George Roden before it was discovered that he was an Italian Duke by birth. But Trollope drew back from the dilemmas he created, alas and alack, and and as a result there is no English parallel to Dostoevsky's radicalism -- more's the pity.