Thursday, March 15, 2012

Top 10 romans-fleuves

"Roman-fleuve sounds a very French sort of thing," writes Jeffrey Archer at the Guardian. "Britannica defines it as 'a series of novels, each one complete in itself, that deals with an era of national life, or successive generations of a family'."

Archer, who is the author of his own five-book series, The Clifton Chronicles, named his top ten romans-fleuves, including:
The Palliser novels by Anthony Trollope

The Oxford Companion to English Literature tells me that "Trollope established the novel sequence in English fiction". Many would choose his Barsetshire novels for a survey of this sort, but I've preferred the six Palliser novels because the Palace of Westminster is more to my taste than the cathedral close. A large cast of characters is common to all six novels, but Trollope ensures that each can be enjoyed on its own. Trollope stood unsuccessfully for parliament and did not enjoy the experience – and he uses this first-hand knowledge with great verve.
Read about another entry on the list.

One of the Palliser novels is among Edward Mendelson's five best works that explore marriage, another is on John Mullan's list of ten of the best jewels in fiction.

--Marshal Zeringue