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summary The Warden

Irical story of a uiet cathedral town shaken by scandal as the traditional values of Septimus Harding are attacked by zealous reformers and ruthless newspapers is a drama of conscience that pits individual integrity against worldly ambition In The Warden Ant I m going to clamp down my opening paragraph with a SPOILER because I reveal in generalities how the book endswhich is kind of important I guessview spoilerWho doesn t love a happy ending Apparently Anthony Trollope I didn t realize how use to them I ve become because I was pretty surprised when it happened Surprises in books are usually a good thing but here it felt flat hide spoiler

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The Warden

'It was so hard that the pleasant waters of his little stream should be disturbed and muddied that his uiet paths should be made a battlefield that the unobtrusive corner of the world which been allotted to him made miserable and unsound'Trollope's witty sat If you are British and in your 40s your word association answer for Anthony Trollope may well be John Major A GR friend in the same decade of life also begins his review of The Warden by mentioning the former Prime Minister If you were much younger than us you wouldn t have been taking enough notice of political news in the early to mid 1990s to see the journalistic jokes about Major s reading habits if you were older and interested in classic literature you d already heard of Trollope and formed some sort of opinion in the pre Major years Whilst I always thought Major seemed like a fairly nice bloke though I know some people won t conscion separating that from any of a politician s policies and with historical hindsight I d say he was underrated at the time as a manager of his party and as a political negotiator he was the ultimate byword for uncoolness and dullness so to be seen to take his recommendations for culture when aged under 60 and maybe even then had such embarrassment associated that even now it is as if one s teenage self and student friends awoke after cryogenic freezing to roll their eyes and laugh and you know the friends will rib you for months if not years But you know what teenage me you re now over 40 and you still haven t read all the authors mentioned in The Divine Comedy s The Booklovers and you need a minimum of one Trollope novel to right that And you re a regular on a big website where lots of people especially Americans think it s uite normal to read Trollope and this John Major association means nothing to themAs it turns out Robin Gilmour s introduction to this Penguin Classics edition shows why Trollope would appeal to someone like Major although it was written in 1984 some years before his rise to the Cabinet Incidentally the Oxfords seem to be better editions if you are serious about Trollope they are newer include extra material such as the Barsetshire short story in their edition of The Warden plus they make a lovely set with the covers all using Victorian wallpaper designs The shorter Penguin edition made sense for me though as I wanted to get the book finished uickly for a reading challenge it hampered this slightly with too many notes that turned out to be nothing but dictionary definitions of words Trollope was both outsider and insider the poorest boy in his class at major public schools Harrow and Winchester when fees weren t as high relative to incomes as they are now often bullied and no academic star either Unlike Dickens whose response to childhood poverty was outspoken reformism Trollope was interested in fitting in trying to have a uiet life and in understanding everyone whatever side they were on As a state educated moderate Tory whose only ualifications were O Levels and a correspondence course he stood out at a time when public school and Oxbridge was even of a norm in the party than it is now and like Trollope does in this book he gave an impression of prioritising reasonable solutions and truce above conflict and hardline opinion For these same reasons it s easy to see how Trollope became increasingly appealing to middle aged and older people in the 2010s feeling unmoored amid the continual storm of high conflict social media and polarised politics where what once seemed like core moral principles of compromise understanding and respect don t always apply any Most of the Trollope fans I ve noticed online are American There are still some British people I can t imagine conceding that it might actually be worth reading Trollope Gilmour refers to a tradition of English literary snobbery about Trollope which gives further context for this and for the way in which Trollope became another way to make jokes about Major fitting with the image of him as a wimp like the guy in the old Mr Muscle cleaning product ads and caricatured wearing underpants over his trousers And Neil Hannon of The Divine Comedy the writer of the song that e v e n t u a l l y led me to read Trollope was Irish therefore perhaps with some disdain for English shibboleths I wrote the first couple of paragraphs above before I d read than two chapters of The Warden Now having read the whole novel I m a convert and my reasons for not reading Trollope seem like a silly fossil Trollope does have some weak points several character names seem like someone treading unimaginatively in Dickens footsteps and the archdeacon s children seemed like illustrations of a schema the author had chosen for their personalities not like real kids From this I can still understand why a fair number of people don t consider him as being in the first rank The subject of The Warden is arcane a controversy over the excessive pay for an ancient church sinecure running what would now be called supported accommodation for elderly men complicated by the fact that the recipient is a good person doing his job well so it s evident why this is not the best place for everyone to start reading the Barsetshire series even if it is first novel and short to boot But for me at least it was a case of right reader right book If you have worked for pay in the charity non profit sector it may well be interesting for the dilemmas it presents Other interests that can help one get the most out of it include English church history certain areas of law with the eye for detail involved in legal work and the behaviour of the press and social media I am still surprised how many recent readers are meh about The Warden though because it is just so relevant to the last point It is all about achingly contemporary topics like unearned privilege calling out and how people do that and respond to it and live with one another in the aftermath and the potential psychological toll of being pilloried in the press or a Twitter pile on It is easy for a contemporary novel about these things to be too on the nose but make it about a different time and an unusual subject and it becomes fresh and interesting to think about again Were cases like Septimus Harding s wardenship a hackneyed subject for journalism at the time the novel was publishedThe relatively moderate behaviour of every character who sees the problem with the sinecure might be annoying to radical readers if they were to pick up the novel at all But it also made me wonder if this is what it might be like if people adopted Ibram X Kendi s suggestion of treating racism not as one of the worst possible accusations but a common in the sense of both freuent and collective problem to be highlighted and worked on I think a good analogy for this is if people treated it as some are now starting to treat environmentally destructive behaviour but then I live in a country which doesn t have a significant proportion of climate change deniers and most people I m close to take the issue seriously and don t live extravagant lifestylesI m finding than ever this year that I don t rate novels primarily for their endings those seem a relatively unimportant small fraction of their contents This is one such although the ending is relatively palatable to those who are cynical about the possibility of sweeping progressive change beyond individual choices with limited impact Obviously the particular type of sinecure highlighted in the novel has disappeared so reformers like Harding s potential son in law John Bold were successful in the long run it can happen And women like the warden s daughters now have their own careers But sinecures still exist in other fields such as directorships maintained by a system of if we don t pay them millions someone else will Swings and roundaboutsThere is also just something I click with about Trollope s writing His apparent wish to understand everyone including those on different sides strikes a chord something that wouldn t have seemed so noticeable if I d read this years ago before this became a contentious thing to recommend and before I learned it wasn t actually a universal democratic value that just about everyone was working towards on some level even if they found it difficult in the moment After making Archdeacon Grantly the villain of the piece for 90% of the novel towards the end he writes paragraphs about the positive aspects of the man it reminded me a lot of how I might sound off to a friend about someone they don t know then feel compelled to explain their good ualities Gilmour mentions that Trollope is considered a writer of communities yet when you look closely many of the most memorable scenes are of solitary characters and their thoughts of puzzling over exactly how to interact with people My favourite episode in the novel was one such solitary one when Septimus Harding hightails it to London to see the lawyer actually the Attorney General before Grantly can beat him to it I had never expected this author or this character to produce scenes that felt somehow so much like my own experience I ve never been an aged vicar nor met the Attorney General whether intentionally or naively as Harding does in assuming him to be like any other solicitor and Victorian late night supperhouses description here don t exist any though taxi drivers caffs did 10 15 years ago I think something of what chimed was the way it turns out okay Perhaps it is simply a great scene of navigating a city and killing time there alone So I would actually if time and circumstances allow like to read Trollope though there are many authors I want to read whom I ve still never read once and who therefore get priority Perhaps if there s an occasion when I d once have felt like picking up yet another Charles Dickens novel I might try Trollope instead And I don t think anyone is surprised by that idea than I amRead December 2019 reviewed Dec 2019 Jan 2020

Anthony Trollope ê 9 read

Hony Trollope brought the fictional county of Barsetshire to life peopled by a cast of brilliantly realised characters that have made him among the supreme chroniclers of the minutiae of Victorian England It is the first book in the Chronicles of Barsetshire Did you ever know a poor man made better by law or a lawyer said Bunce bitterly Anthony Trollope The WardenSuch a lovely social novel Trollope sets up a series of characters and a situation and you know that Warden Septimus Harding Archdeacon Grantly and John Bold are set to collide and that the reforms of Dr Bold or the conservatism of Archdeacon Grantly will help the Warden I loved the Warden of this story I love his morality his humility his simpleness I love Trollope s criticisms of the Church of England and its clergy and the excesses of reform I love his take on the Press But it is a gentle novel There are no demons in Trollope s novel and no saints There are men who make mistakes and overshoot the mark Men who start a ball rolling and are unable to see where it will lead There are women too The women are fully formed and not just side notes


10 thoughts on “The Warden

  1. says:

    Very enjoyable book that is concerned about people putting their great big feet in puddles before ascertaining their depth It's very cleverly worked out and contains just the amount of love and romance to drive the plot forward Like most of Trollope's Barchester series it is somewhat a comedy of manners and enjoyable for thatRecommended to those who like the classics and have a certain fondness for schadenfreude even

  2. says:

    There is tranuility in a second hand bookshop Libraries are uiet because they must be This is different A kind of peace Whatever it is it suits me I feel at home It could just be the dust Anyway there I was kneeli

  3. says:

    If you are British and in your 40s your word association answer for Anthony Trollope may well be John Major A GR friend in the same decade of l

  4. says:

    I have finally introduced myself to Anthony Trollope and I can say with a smile that I am very happy to have made his acuaintance A friend suggested I start with The Warden and I believe it to be advice well takenThe Warden of this novel is Mr Harding a kindly and good man who is overseer to a group of bedesmen whose care has been provided for in the will of a long deceased gentleman The church tends the property left

  5. says:

    Book Circle Reads 155Rating 35 of five Good solid Victorian stodge The kind of book you read when you're glutted with silly vapid reality stuff

  6. says:

    I'm going to clamp down my opening paragraph with a SPOILER because I reveal in generalities how the book endswhich is kind of important I guessview spoilerWho doesn't love a happy ending Apparently Anthony Trollope I didn't realize how use to

  7. says:

    The Warden a somewhat melancholic story of Septimus Harding Church of England clergyman in the fictitious cathedral town of Barchester Winchester in reality Britain during the middle of the 19th century and the first of the six novels in this highly acclaimed series by Anthony Trollopethis uiet little city exists because of the majestic cathedral while being dominated by the dedicated clergy In 1434 a wealthy merchant by the name of Mr John

  8. says:

    I am not sure what to write of as a reviewTo escape such confused state it is better to state everything in bullets It is a story of a man who listens to his conscience even when it means to lose everything most of all his income It is a story of wonderful relationships the friendship between the Warden and the Archbishop; the filial affecti

  9. says:

    “Did you ever know a poor man made better by law or a lawyer' said Bunce bitterly” Anthony Trollope The WardenSuch a lovely social novel Trollope sets up a series of characters and a situation and you know that Warden Septimus Harding Archdeacon Grantly and John Bold are set to collide and that the reforms of Dr Bold or the conservatism of Archdeacon Grantly will help the Warden I loved the Warden of thi

  10. says:

    A gentle story about unexpected clerical upheaval in an English town I loved Trollope’s distinction between grandiose abstract ideas about justice and our small choices that reflect how we personally define it There are figures on both sides of the main conflict who believe they know what’s definitively “right” but it’s only the war

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