People across the world are looking to loose themselves in a long read. Stuck at home in a prolonged lock-down many of us are finding that reading provides a welcome break from the worries of the coronavirus pandemic. The works of Anthony Trollope seem to be tailor-made for the current crisis. Characters that seem almost real populate his novels. Their cares, loves, worries and struggles take us away from the reality of the coronavirus crisis that has engulfed us. With many of Trollope’s forty-seven novels reaching over 800 pages, and with six novels each in the Barsetshire series and in the Palliser series, it has been noted that Trollope makes the perfect box set read.
The coronavirus crisis has been compared, rightly or wrongly, to the Second World War. Trollope’s popularity rose in the war as people looked for ways to escape from the realities of life. It has been suggested that Barsetshire offered a cosy world in which to take refuge. Personally, I think that the attraction of Trollope in times of crisis is that readers can become fully immersed in the lives of the characters that he portrays. The struggles of the Archdeacon and Mrs Proudie in Barchester Towers, or of Lady Glencora and Plantagenet Palliser’s marriage in the Palliser series are very real. It is this reality that allows us to escape from the world outside.
The Trollope Society has like every other organization been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. More than twenty members were due to visit Florence at the start of April, but sadly the trip along with numerous Seminar Groups had to be cancelled. With no end in sight to social distancing, we have turned to online services to bring Trollope readers together and provide a replacement for meeting in person.
We recently asked members of the Anthony Trollope Facebook group and those who have subscribed to the Trollope Society’s e-newsletter if they would like to come together to read and discuss Trollope using the popular online video conferencing software Zoom. More than fifty people completed our survey letting us know what sort of meeting they would like and twenty people joined the first meeting. The Online Conversazione, named after Mrs Proudie’s party in Framley Parsonage, has now been established as regular group, which will meet every two weeks on Zoom to discuss the novel that they are reading together and all things Trollope.
Framley Parsonage has been selected by the group as the first novel to be read in the Online Conversazione during April, May and June. Details of the reading schedule, as well as how to join the Zoom meetings are given in the Events Calendar.
In addition to the Zoom meetings the group has also established an Online Conversazione WhatsApp Group, for people to keep in touch as they read the novel. Details of how to join the WhatsApp group can be found here.
I hope that using Zoom, WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter, we can bring readers from across the world together to share and enjoy the pleasure of reading Trollope. I very much hope to see you online soon.
Trollope Society Chair