Trollope an anti-Semite, John? It’s certainly true of Melmotte, the villain in The WayWe Live Now, that he is an entirely disagreeable character, as also that his Jewishness is central to his identity. But what of Brehgert? He is an entirely sympathetic character—charming, generous, incorruptible; second only to Carbury himself as a model of virtue—whose Jewishness is likewise central to his identity. Could Trollope have made it any clearer that Georgianna is a fool for refusing Brehgert’s offer of marriage? And if The Way We Live Now were intended to foster anti-Semitism, surely Trollope would have proposed a neat divide between Jews, all of whom are to be disdained, and gentiles, all of whom behave admirably. Of course he does nothing of the kind, filling the book with gentile fools, liars, louts and poltroons.
No doubt Trollope reflected the views of his day, as who, for that matter, does not? But his principal concern was to portray life just as he found it. As Nathaniel Hawthorne famously put it, Trollope’s works are “just as real as if some giant had hewn a great lump out of the earth and put it under a glass case, with all its inhabitants going about their daily business, and not suspecting that they were being made a show of.”