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At first savagely reviewed, The Way We Live Now (1875) has since emerged as Trollope's masterpiece and the most admired of his works. When Trollope returned to England from the colonies in 1872 he was horrified by the immorality and dishonesty he found. In a fever of indignation he sat down to write The Way We Live Now, his longest novel. Nothing escaped the satirist's whip: politics, finance, the aristocracy, the literary world, gambling, sex, and much else. In this world of bribes and vendettas, swindling and suicide, in which heiresses are won like gambling stakes, Trollope's characters embody all the vices: Lady Carbury, a 43-year-old coquette, 'false from head to foot'; her son Felix, with the 'instincts of a horse, not approaching the higher sympathies of a dog'; and Melmotte, the colossal figure who dominates the book, a 'horrid, big, rich scoundrel ... a bloated swindler ... a vile city ruffian'.
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