I admire the sinuous mind that can enjoy's novels but decide that they aren't really about humans - women, especially, being misrepresented - but about dragons. Tooth and Claw is a cross-section of major Trollopian themes, in a society of dragons with explicit biological reflections of Victorian landed morals. For instance: inheritances include the right to feast on the dead, and lordship the right to feast on the weak; a maiden is covered with an unmistakable blush when a suitor gets too close to her, and a blushing maiden is either engaged or ruined. Parsons aren't supposed to fly, much less hunt, and have crises of faith when confronted with the Old beliefs.
I recognize the Victorian novel in all this, and some sentences are outright Trollopian. I enjoyed it greatly. It was a romp. The oddity, though, is that the accusation is particularly unfair to Trollope. I really don't think he believed that women were innately what Victorian mores expected them to be; in Can You Forgive Her?, for instance, it seems to me that by expectation you can't, but by Trollope's leading you can. I also remember him being startlingly more accepting of "Boston marriages" than, for instance,' The Bostonians, although to my embarassment I can't remember which Trollope novel I'm thinking of... Trollope certainly thought people would be happier if they could conform themselves to society, but he didn't think everyone could, he sympathizes with some characters who can't, and he's always conscious of the enormous pressures brought to bear on everyone in society to keep them all mutually sociable. This is one reason his novels are so gloriously long.¹
¹All of which can be argued over at nearly equal length, and regularly is.
²Pushing a little harder, it's effective mockery of such evo-socio-biologists as reliably find that our nature and development fit us just exactly to a society in which those who are now rich and powerful will continue to be so. I doubt it's what Walton meant, I don't remember anything that seemed a commentary on modern life or even from a modern perspective. But writing about dragons who have to act so cruel, or starve, points up the free will we, or the Victorians, had in most of those acts of cruelty. ...And now that I think about it, even her dragons might not need to be so cruel, they just find it hard to resist the comparative advantage from being so. There is an emancipation movement, little detailed.
ISBN: 0-765-30264-0So wrote clew in Fiction (19th c.). , SF&F. | TrackBack