by Ronald A. Knox, originally published in 1935.
278 Pages. Hardback. Published by Omnium Publishing, the publishing arm of The Trollope Society.
Here is the first ever reprint of a rare work of great charm. Published in 1935, Ronald Knox offers the reader a new generation of Barchester stories in the manner of Trollope, sketching the further adventures of the Bolds and Grantlys and the Arabins – and those of their children. Knox continues the history of Barchester for two generations after Trollope ended his own books, taking the surviving characters and their descendants to 1934
Barchester Pilgrimage is a delightful pastiche even for readers who are not familiar with Anthony Trollope’s most endearing series about an imaginary Cathedral city, Barchester.
Knox’s humorous introduction to the book sets the tone:
EXPLANATORY DEDICATION TO MAURICE BARING
I owe you a deep debt of ingratitude for pointing out to me, when this book was nearly three parts written, that practically nobody would read it, because practically nobody had ever heard of Barchester.
Do you really suggest that we have got to tell people what the title means? To say that there was a man called Anthony Trollope, who was born in the year of Waterloo, and died in 1882 – died of laughing at a new book called Vice Versa? That this man, however much you rank him below the Immortals, is the novelist of the Victorian era, because most of all he was its unconscious spokesman; and that among the great library of his writings, five novels are endeared beyond all others to those who read them, the five which centre round the imaginary Cathedral city of Barchester? Will it be any use to tell them all this, and give them a few more stray pieces of information such as would help them in a General Paper – as, that Mrs .Proudie, the Bishop’s wife, hen-pecked him and tried to run the diocese for him; or that Mr.Harding, the precentor, was the gentlest and most lovable of characters in fiction, or that Dr.Grantley, the Archdeacon, was a fine, domineering clergyman of the old school? Would such information help one who has never had the entrée of Courcey Castle, or strolled with the Archdeacon across Barchester Close, or faced up to the anger of Lady Lufton in her “den” at Framley Park; or blushed and wept over the poverty of Hogglestock Parsonage?
However, I dare say you are right in thinking that some kind of explanation is needed. To publish a book written entirely in the style of somebody else, when your reader is not expecting it, is to put yourself in the position of one who meets callers at the front door when he is dressed up in an eiderdown and an old cavalry helmet to amuse the children. To be an ass in a lion’s skin is dangerous work at the best of times; but you look even more of an ass if you are meeting people who have never heard of the lion. So I have done what you suggested, and explained it all in words of one syllable; only insisting that my explanation should take this dedicatory form. My readers may be few enough; but it will be something to have told my non-readers – the people who will put down the book in disgust at this point – that you think as poorly of them as I do, for taking so little interest in Trollope.
About Ronald A. Knox
Ronald Knox was a scholar, priest, confessor, orator, and prolific writer of both fiction and nonfiction, including detective novels, histories, satires, and aplogetics. He was a radio personality in the 1950s. After his death, Evelyn Waugh wrote Knox’s biography, The Life of the Right Reverend Ronald Knox.