The Way We Live Now is Anthony Trollope’s radical exploration of the dangers associated with speculative capitalism, edited with an introduction and notes by Frank Kermode in Penguin Classics.
Augustus Melmotte is a fraudulent foreign financier who preys on dissolute nobility – using charm to tempt the weak into making foolish investments in his dubious schemes. Persuaded to put money into a notional plot to run a railroad from San Francisco to Santa Cruz, the capricious gambler Felix Carbury soon becomes one of his victims. But as Melmotte climbs higher in society, his web of deceit – which also draws in characters as diverse as his own daughter Marie and Felix’s mother, the pulp novelist Lady Carbury – begins to unravel. A radical exploration of the dangers associated with speculative capitalism, this is a fascinating satire about a society on the verge of moral bankruptcy.
Frank Kermode’s introduction explores the real-life inspiration for Trollope’s masterly satire. This edition also includes detailed notes.
Anthony Trollope (1815-82) had an unhappy childhood characterised by a stark contrast between his family’s high social standing and their comparative poverty. He wrote his earliest novels while working as a Post Office inspector, but did not meet with success until the publication of the first of his ‘Barsetshire novels’, The Warden (1855). As well as writing over forty novels, including such popular works as Can You Forgive Her? (1865), Phineas Finn (1869), He Knew He Was Right (1869) and The Way We Live Now (1875) Trollope is credited with introducing the postbox to England.
If you enjoyed The Way We Live Now, you might like William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair, also available in Penguin Classics.
‘Trollope’s masterpiece … its examination of how hopes of easy money can corrupt remains relevant today’