A frequent problem with novels or piece of media in general is that I forget them. A few weeks after reading the text I I don’t remember the names. Months later I cannot describe the plot even.
In addition to this problem, finding the time to read a 700+ pages long novel is a rare luxury these days. Such is the extension of the book “The Way We Live Now“, by Anthony Trollope. It took me more than 3 years reading it: mostly on holidays. I enjoyed the experience but perseverating with the plot and characters took me some will. I thought that it would be a shame
I ploted some important names and concepts on an improvised mind map while I learned the interface of Mindjet Maps. The choice of this tool proved a mistake down the line. Mind maps cannot be saved to formats other than the proprietary and undescribed mmap. The only export available is printing. You can download a pdf version of the image below: Mind map of The Way We Live Now by accuteaccent.com
Mind map of The Way We Live Now. License: Creative Commons’ Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
Composing the mind map took some patience to deal with the tool’s interface. I used an online tool by Stamen to get stylized geo representations of maps
Grosvenor Square in London
Trollope does not save his sharp criticism to anyone on his novel or the society of this time.
You can read for instance about Roger Carbury, a gentleman with dim views on life but true to his beliefs: “To a man not accustomed to thinking there is nothing in the world so difficult as to think”
An even duller character, Georgiana Longestaffe is quoted as claiming: Who thinks about love nowadays? I don’t know any one who loves any one else.
Not even we, the readers, and the human race in general are spared from getting the flak: “After some loose fashion we turn over things in our mind and ultimately reach some decision, guided probably by our feelings at the last moment rather than by any process of ratiocination; and then we think that we have thought.”was, as a satire, powerful and good. The character of Melmotte is well maintained. The Beargarden is amusing,—and not untrue…
Tropolle himself contributed to the understanding of the book with his own words: “.Roger Cardury and Paul Montague were “uninteresting”. Hetta is “weak and vapid….”. “The interest of the story lies among the wicked and foolish people,—with Melmotte and his daughter, with the American woman, Mrs Hurtle, and with John Crumb and the girl of his heart.
Reading this book in the early 21st century is a sweet-sour experience. We are no longer shocked by the dishonesty and the decadence of a greed-driven society. We are bewildered by the We are nowadays on the stage when we acknowledge in ourselves the extent of the devaluation of moral values.
The experiment is: will I remember this novel in a few years time when reading this post better than any other book I read in those 3 years it took me to complete this one?