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The Warden by Anthony Trollope
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The Warden (original 1855; edition 1995)

by Anthony Trollope

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2,608792,296 (3.83)4 / 399
Member:LizzySiddal
Title:The Warden
Authors:Anthony Trollope
Info:London: The Folio Society, 1995 xxiv, 172p ill 23cm
Collections:Your library, To read
Rating:
Tags:Folio Society, C19, English, fiction, British

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The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1855)

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English (78)  French (1)  All languages (79)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
There is not a huge amount of plot to this novel and the Goodreads blurb sums it up really. There is humour in Mr Harding's fear of the archdeacon, but the story is very topical and references several real-life cases of C of E abuses and attempted reforms, as well as parodying Dickens and Carlyle. The introduction and notes in this edition are excellent, almost necessary for a modern reader truly to understand certain sections.

I much prefer the next in the series, "Barchester Towers" (I read them out of order), and I agree with the narrator that Dr Grantly doesn't come out of this volume too well. I found John Bold's actions here puzzling: he goes after Mr Harding despite being in love with Eleanor, but when she asks him to drop the case as it is upsetting her father, he agrees immediately. Either he didn't think at all about the consequences of his actions or he is entirely lacking in the kind of principle that the meek Mr Harding displays. ( )
  pgchuis | Nov 26, 2014 |
An enjoyable snippet of Victoriana. I mainly read it as a set-up for Barchester Towers which is the next in the series and is supposed to be quite good. This one stood nicely on its own, though. Good introduction to Mr. Harding and the other characters. ( )
  AliceAnna | Oct 24, 2014 |
A masterpiece and, fittingly for a novel about money, a plot that revolves around accountability. It’s a compelling story of a good man who tries above all to do good in an imperfect world where others, through ignorance or because they are misguided or, in the case of members of the press, because they are vile, cause harm either intentionally or unintentionally.
This is a stunning novel, but with every turn of the page the reader mutters ‘this will not end well’. The question here is not so much can a good man triumph? but rather what would his triumph look like, and what, coming back to accountability, would be the cost?
It is, however, an absolute joy to read.
I grew up in a cathedral town and, reading the description of Barchester in the opening pages of ‘The Warden’, where Trollope describes the town in loving detail, I was convinced that he had based his fictional Barchester on my home town. Trollope’s description of everything from the cathedral close to the alms houses that the plot of the novel turns on being, if not exact, then an entirely faithful depiction of the essence of the places in the town I grew up in.
Then again, anyone who has grown up in a cathedral town will probably claim the same. There is a pattern to those places. More probably, it is Trollope’s genius that makes the place familiar.
As there is a pattern to the cathedral closes of Barchester, there is a pattern to the story here too, although that is by no means a weakness. Rather, the reader progresses with a gathering sense of foreboding as the tale simultaneously unfolds and tangles.
An honourable man is confronted with a criticism of his character by a family friend when the accusation is levelled at him that he, the titular Warden of the alms houses, profits personally from an arrangements that sees the residents of the alms houses disadvantaged.
Essentially, everyone is content until an individual acts out of a misguided sense of public spiritness, with the situation further complicated when others with their own agenda intervene to their own ends.
This is, in short, an astonishing book, and a compelling read.
In it Trollope takes aim at some obvious targets, but justly so. Given that the principal characters in the book are clergymen, and the story features eminent lawyers, it really does say something that it is the press, and the popular press in particular, that is singled out for vilification. Trollope’s demolition of the principles of the press is absolute, his demonisation of those who sit in unaccountable judgement of others they do not even know, utter.
The Warden contains the best depiction of the unaccountability of the press, and the lack of care journalists have for individuals fed to the press that I have ever read. Trollope so neatly captures the self important arrogance of the popular press and those that write it that one is almost compelled to hire a muckspreader and head for Fleet Street to make a not very subtle point about what newspapers are full of.
Barely as the reader stopped muttering ‘fucking right Tony!’ when Trollope takes aim at the even less accountable, anonymous, ‘author’, the pamphleteer hiding behind an alias, sharing their ill informed opinions in a desperate bid to be as popular as they are smug (which would take some doing).
Having essentially destroyed the tabloids and bloggers, the reader might expect lawyers to come in for some criticism also. The reader is not disappointed.
The church itself is spared harsh criticism. True, it’s the Anglican faith being described here, so the only thing the choirboys need to be worried about is being late for evensong, but generally the priests of Bartchester are a jolly pleasant bunch who are genuinely committed to serving the spiritual needs of their flock.
‘The Warden’ is a compelling tale of the unintended consequences of the actions of those who meddle to do well, how events once set in motion can move beyond the control of those that set them in motion, and how those without morality or honour seek to exploit discord for personal gain. ( )
1 vote macnabbs | Oct 7, 2014 |
My first work by Trollope, and I was impressed.

The author writes in a simple and straightforward style that a modern reader can appreciate. Likewise, the story line was straightforward, with just enough characters to complete the work. So often I am left wondering why authors of this period include so many unnecessary persons and detail. Not so with Trollope.

Among its messages, I most appreciated the book's powerful statement about how media can be used, or abused. ( )
  la2bkk | Sep 27, 2014 |
I had been saving Trollope for later life, largely because I was worried that once I got started I might feel compelled to read all 47 of his novels. But somehow read the first few pages of this and couldn't put it down. The story is rather slight, many of the characters absurd, some of the satire over the top, but somehow it is enjoying and compelling from beginning to end.

The story is about a church official who also serves as the beneficent, albeit well remunerated, Warden of an almshouse for twelve elderly, indigent men. He becomes the target of a local reformer who wants more of the endowment to go to the poor and less to the Warden. A series of lawsuits and machinations follow, lightly interspersed with a wooden romance, and along the way Trollope skewers parliament, the media, the Church of England, philosophical writers, Charles Dickens, and others. Unlike Dickens, none of the characters -- minor or major -- have much life to them. And most of them are painfully cardboard.

But somehow the careful descriptions, the impossible situation depicted, and the panormatic view of this tiny segment of time, space and society are compelling. As one of Trollope's earliest works, I can only assume they get better -- and will require some restraint not to pick up another Trollope novel anytime soon. ( )
  nosajeel | Jun 21, 2014 |
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» Add other authors (35 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Trollope, Anthonyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ardizzone, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hawthorne, NigelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kredel, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Skilton, DavidIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Rev. Septimus Harding was, a few years since, a beneficed clergyman residing in the cathedral town of ---; let us call it Barchester.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0192834088, Paperback)

The book centers on the character of Mr. Harding, a clergyman of great personal integrity, whose charitable income far exceeds the purpose for which it was intended. Young John Bold turns his reforming zeal to exposing what he considers to be an abuse of privilege, despite being in love with Mr. Harding's daughter Eleanor. The novel was highly topical as a case regarding the misapplication of church funds was the scandalous subject of contemporary debate. But Trollope uses this specific case to explore and illuminate the universal complexities of human motivation and social morality. This edition includes an introduction and notes by David Skilton and illustrations by Edward Ardizzone.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:33:28 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

This novel centres on the character of Mr. Harding, a clergyman of great personal integrity, whose charitable income far exceeds the purpose for which it was intended. Young John Bold turns his reforming zeal to exposing what he considers to be an abuse of privilege, despite being in love with Mr. Harding's daughter Eleanor.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 11 descriptions

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140432140, 0141198990

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