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Domestic Manners of the Americans (Penguin Classics)

4.1 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0140435610
ISBN-10: 0140435611
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Editorial Reviews

Review

It's a hugely entertaining and informative read, and the new Oxford World Classics edition has all the extras youd expect from this publisher, including an excellent introduction and notes, and even some of the illustrations from the original 1832 edition. Splendid stuff. Harriet Devine, Shiny New Books Published in 1832, this feisty journal of a three-year spell in America remains delectably hilarious. Christopher Hirst, Independent --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

Frances Trollope presents an engaging account of her visit to the United States during 1827-1831 in this two-volume travelogue. Published in 1832, it records her often outspoken views on many aspects of nineteenth-century American society. The immediacy of her impressions will arouse the curiosity of readers today. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (November 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140435611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140435610
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #308,447 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Judith C. Kinney on April 3, 2002
Format: Paperback
This is both a great read and an important historical document. Fanny Trollope was the mother of Anthony Trollope, perhaps the most prolific English novelist of the nineteenth century and my favorite. Fanny's husband was ineffectual in the breadwinning department, but fortunately for the family, Fanny herself was energetic and enterprising. She took one of her sons (not Anthony) and an artistic young man to the United States. She was planning to join a friend of hers who was a mover in setting up the utopian community in Harmony, Indiana, but the place turned out to be squalid, and she didn't stay long.
Fanny spent most of her time in the U.S. in Cincinnati and in her book is very hard on the city and its inhabitants. She especially objected to the pigs' role as garbage collectors. (In those days, pigs roamed the streets freely, like sheep grazing.) Fanny felt most of the people she encountered were loud, dirty, vulgar, and fanatically patriotic. It is her vivid descriptions of the physical conditions and the people that give this book its historical and entertainment value.
While she was living in Cinci, she opened a retail emporium and filled it with rather shoddy merchandise sent from England by her husband. She also attempted to bring culture to the inhabitants. Not surprisingly, both ventures failed.
After Mrs. Trollope returned to England, she supported her family by writing novels that were quite popular at the time, though they haven't become the classics her son's have. She spent her final years living in Italy with another son and his wife.
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Format: Paperback
Very entertaining read of the author's trip through 19th Century America, full of wonderful description and enlightening observations. Despite the griping below, Mrs Trollope simply reports what she sees - men spitting tobacco on the floor, ladies off in another room while the guys have a good time, etc. She reports accurately on our forefathers' rugged pioneer spirit, but points out the lack of education everywhere. We want to shout "lies!" but Mark Twain wrote about the same thing, and the aspects of our society that haven't changed much are still being commented on with the same frankness by writers like Saul Bellow, Gore Vidal, Dawn Powell, Paul Theroux and Joan Didion. Many true-hearted Americans will enjoy this book no end. Mrs Trollope clearly loved America and simply wrote truthfully about; she is simply beholden to no one - the essence of good writing. A thoroughly refreshing read.
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Format: Paperback
Frances Trollope was a well-educated and by our standards snobbish Englishwoman who visited the United States in the early part of the 19th century. Her perceptive and caustic insights into the American character remain fresh and surprisingly timeless, as well as being lucid and elegant. The book became a best-seller in England; Mrs. Trollope's son Anthony was so inspired by his mother's success that he became an author himself. Anyone interested in American history needs to read this book, which offers a point of view not often presented on this side of the Atlantic in a style that's a pleasure to read.
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Format: Paperback
In 1827, at age 48, Frances Trollope arrived in New Orleans en route with some of her family to Fanny Wright's utopian community, Nashoba Commune. When that residence din't work out for her, she contunued up the Mississippi by steamboat, then up the Ohio to Cincinnati, where she stayed for roughly two years, waiting for her depressed and bankrupt husband either to join her or to find the wherewithal to support the family in England. Life in Cincinnati was utterly dreary, and Trollope was gravely ill for an extended period. Finally she fled to the east, over the Alleghenies to Baltimore and to rural Virginia where it would seem that she survived chiefly by the support of friends. She managed to visit Washington and Philadelphia, then removed to New York City. Her final adventure in America was an excursion to Niagara falls, partly via the Eerie Canal. She must have kept ample notes, which enabled her to publish "Domestic Manners of the Americans" in 1832, very soon after her return to England. The book was an immediate success and established her career as a writer. Her husband, however, never found his economic footing; he fled to Belgium with some of the children in 1834, and he died there. Fanny's eldest son, the literary giant Anthony Trollope, had not accompanied her to America, but he also would eventually write an account of his travels there. Neither mother nor son were enthusiastic about the society through which they traveled.

Unlike her son in later years, Fanny Trollope came to America not as a celebrity but as the most ordinary of economic immigrants. She had some introductions, and a few old friends from England residing here and there, but largely she was on her own, with little money, no marketable job skills, and children to care for.
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Format: Paperback
This is an extremely entertaining commentary on American manners and well written. I agree, however, with Mrs. Trollope's son, Anthony, who commented that Mrs. Trollope is a keen observer but she understands little. Certainly her complaints about the lack of gentility among Americans is valid but she completely missed the wonderful lack of class restraints endemic to English society which afforded Americans "class mobility"--freedom of opportunity (except for native Americans and slaves).
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