The West Indies and the Spanish Main Paperback – Apr 20 1999
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About the Author
Anthony Trollope was a Victorian-era English author best known for his satirical novel The Way We Live Now, a criticism of the greed and immorality he witnessed living in London. Trollope was employed as a postal surveyor in Ireland when he began to take up writing as a serious pursuit, publishing four novels on Irish subjects during his years there. In 1851 Trollope was travelling the English countryside for work when was inspired with the plot for The Warden, the first of six novels in what would become his famous The Chronicles of Barsetshire series. Trollope eventually settled in London and over the next thirty years published a prodigious body of work, including Barsetshire novels such as Barchester Towers and Doctor Thorne, as well as numerous other novels and short stories. Trollope died in London 1882 at the age of 67. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Writing on the eve of the American Civil War, Trollope's feelings are ambiguous. As a Christian, he knows that emancipation was, in the abstract, a good thing. But he clearly feels that the days of slavery were the Good Old Days (he uses that actual phrase) when the islands were prosperous. The free blacks, to Trollope's annoyance, insist on working only enough to supply their own wants, which are relatively few. All this fertile land is going to waste for lack of labor because there's no way to force the blacks to work. (At this time in Britain, a worker could not quit his job without his employer's permission.)
The issue for Trollope is not just economic. Idleness is a sin and a sign of barbarism. Of course you didn't see Trollope himself toiling away in the hot sun--or even in the cold rain, since it was widely believed that physical labor in the tropics was fatal to white people. It's a fascinating glimpse of mid-19th century racial attitudes, as long as you can keep your historical perspective. If you become angry because Trollope refuses to think like a 21st century liberal, you won't learn anything.
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