August 26, 2007
Blogging Trollope III
I may just be preoccupied with these comparisons because of having spent so much time and thought on sensation novels this summer, but He Knew He Was Right continues to seem like a reworking of a number of key sensation themes and elements. (I haven't looked around yet to see if there's 'official' criticism addressing the connections.) I'm struck, for instance, by the close proximity between Louis Trevelyan and Robert Audley: both are motivated by intense suspicion of a woman and are driven to what others perceive as madness because of their relentless pursuit of justification for these suspicions. The key differences, of course, are first that Louis's suspicions are groundless, and second, that his monomania thus truly puts him on the wrong side of what both authors describe as the thin line separating sanity from insanity. One result of these differences is that while Lady Audley's Secret can be read as confirming all of Robert's worst fears about women, He Knew He Was Right reads like an indictment of just those fears, a critique of that kind of misogynistic paranoia. The comparison brings out the darker side of Robert's quest for justice: he is on a quest for control and domination as much as for truth, as is also clearly the case in HKHWR.