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The Warden by Anthony Trollope

The Warden (original 1855; edition 1995)

by Anthony Trollope

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2,751882,131 (3.81)5 / 447
Title:The Warden
Authors:Anthony Trollope
Info:London: The Folio Society, 1995 xxiv, 172p ill 23cm
Collections:Your library, To read
Tags:Folio Society, C19, fiction, anglophone

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The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1855)



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English (87)  French (1)  All languages (88)
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“Did you ever know a poor man made better by law or a lawyer!'

Four hundred years before the action starts John Hiram establishes a charitable hospital for the poor men of the nearby town of Barchester. Overseeing the hospital is a warden, a position gained from the preferment of the town's bishop. The estate is now making enough money that the warden can be paid a high salary. Local man John Bold,who sees himself to be a kind of moral crusader, believes that this position and salary is a corruption, of the original bequest so starts a legal battle.

The case is important. The clergy believes that this can set a legal precedent concerning the role of the Church of England. In contrast Tom Towers, a reporter for the newspaper the Jupiter, takes up the case for the bedesmen (residents) and writes several slanderous editorials attacking the Church and the warden.

The Warden is largely the exploration of Mr. Harding's conscience, his craving for privacy, his sense of duty, and his love for Eleanor and the men of the almshouse. At the centre of it is the wonderfully complex figure of Mr. Harding, thrust into a limelight he loathes and forced to defend a position he is beginning to consider indefensible.

Trollope makes repeated references to Greek Gods and Goddesses. When Eleanor decides that she must sacrifice herself for her father's sake, she is inspired by the myth of Iphigenia, who sacrificed herself for her father. Tom Towers sees his office at the Jupiter as Mount Olympus and he sees himself as a god, shaping the reality of all the people. The comparison of the characters to heroes and heroines from ancient myths hints at the cruel, detached nature of most gods and goddesses.

The story is told in third person by a narrator who often seems to be omniscient, revealing many characters' innermost thoughts. Once in a while, however, the narrator speaks conversationally to the reader, as though the reader and narrator are sitting together telling a story.

Sadly time has not been beneficial to Trollope.I doubt if the subject matter is relevant any more,assuming it ever really was. Whilst the prose is beautiful there is very little action and this is often stymied by over elaboration, either about the environs or the characters themselves giving it rather stilted feel IMHO. That said this my first experience of Trollope so I cannot honestly say if this representative of his output or merely the result of this being the first book in a series. The tale is a gentle, heart-warming affair but I can imagine that this book will have an almost marmite quality to it, either you will love or loathe it. ( )
  PilgrimJess | Nov 6, 2015 |
I've not read Trollope before, and just recently decided it was time to fill that particular gap in my education, so resolved to begin picking up nice copies of his works as I found them. Quite literally the next day there was a lovely near-complete set of the Barsetshire books (Everyman's Library edition) on the shelves at a local shop, and I couldn't resist just adding the lot of them to my shelves. A copy of the missing volume was easily obtained, and now I can look forward to savoring them (that is, if I can manage not to read them all in one grand bacchanal, which may be difficult to avoid if this first dip into the pool is any indication).

What a delight this was! A lush, leisurely story, filled with dry humor, an intriguing cast of characters, and with a real moral dilemma at its heart. And ooooh, that Archdeacon Grantly! From the very first I had this "no way this can possibly end well" sense, and it was a great pleasure to see how Trollope brought it all together. Effectively satirical and deeply amusing, this volume has very much made me want to read more. ( )
1 vote JBD1 | Aug 23, 2015 |
How different is the style of this novel when compared to today’s often sparser style. I found myself enjoying Trollope’s voice which, as was the style of the day, was prominent. His tone is on the whole tolerant and gently humorous, for example telling the reader that he can’t always know what Eleanor is thinking as she keeps some thoughts to herself – and he makes it seem as if he has acquaintance with the archdeacon’s three boys, telling us that Charles will no longer talk to him since he can find more admiring listeners elsewhere.

What also holds me to the book is the way Trollope has made issues of his day so relevant to today – i.e. he’s focused on issues that will always be of concern to us. So Bold’s legal challenge to the Church brings out, among other things, Harding’s battle within himself to decide if he should keep his position and eight hundred pounds a year. And this leads to the way the Jupiter, the newspaper, so dominates the way people are allowed to think – swap that for the Murdoch press and Trollope is totally contemporary.

I also really like the way Trollope puts things such as the party which the Hardings give where he uses an extended military metaphor which begins with: ‘The party went of as such parties do: there were fat old ladies in fine silk dresses, and slim young ladies in gauzy muslin frocks; old gentlemen stood with their backs to the empty fireplace, looking by no means so comfortable as they would have done in their own armchairs at home; and young gentlemen, rather stiff about the neck, clustered near the door, not as yet sufficiently in courage to attack the muslin frocks, who awaited the battle, drawn up in a semicircular array’.

In short, it is a novel which raises complex matters and does not diminish them – and, as literature should, it has maintained its freshness and relevance. ( )
  evening | Aug 11, 2015 |
Published in 1855, The Warden is the first of Trollope's Barsetshire stories. We are introduced to Septimus Harding, a cleric of high moral character. The warden, Harding, is publicly accused of taking more than his fair share of church funds in return for little work, while the twelve poor elder gentleman under his care receive a mere pittance. The story centers around the legality of the claim vs. the morality of the claim, and Harding's touching reaction to it. In addition to Harding, we are introduced to his daughters and his son-in-law the archdeacon Grantley. Quoting the archdeacon, "Good heavens!" I enjoyed this book. I am sure I will enjoy the other books in the Barsetshire series.

Read March 2014 ( )
  NanaCC | Jul 26, 2015 |
I had been warned that this is not Anthony Trollope's most exciting novel, but as it is the first in the Barsetshire Chronicles and I had a copy at hand, it was the first Trollope that I've read. It hasn't generally aged well, nineteenth century Church of England politics being somewhat out of fashion as a topic of interest, but the writing is strong and reminded me why I enjoy Victorian authors so much.

Reverend Harding is a pleasant, ineffectual man who has a sinecure as the warden of a small retirement home for deserving working class men that includes a house with pleasant gardens and an annual salary of 800 pounds, given to him because one of his two daughters had married the son of the bishop. Here he lives comfortably, enjoying his music, reading books and visiting the old men in the adjoining hospital now and again. His life would have continued in pleasant routine had not a spirit of reform begun to sweep England and a young reformer, the aptly named John Bold, questioned the generosity of the annual allowance.

Trollope is clearly on the side of the status quo, and he breaks from the narrative to complain about the tactics of an author (supposedly Charles Dickens), whom he calls Mr Popular Sentiment, and who he accuses of biasing the public by creating characters and situations that manipulate the reader into sympathy with his poor working class characters. Of course, Trollope is doing exactly the same thing here; Harding is so mild and inoffensive that it is impossible not to hope that he can keep his generous and largely unearned salary.

Outside of the machinations of the lawyers, clergymen and journalists, there is a sub-plot involving Harding's unmarried daughter and John Bold. They had feelings for each other before Bold discovered possible shady dealings on the matter of the wardenship and it's uncertain as to whether their love will survive the conflict. This part of the novel is particularly satisfying, as Eleanor is an interesting character and Bold's conflict as he tries to do what he sees is right without losing her love results in the most satisfying chapters in this brief novel.

I'm looking forward to continuing on with the Barsetshire Chronicles. ( )
3 vote RidgewayGirl | Jul 9, 2015 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Trollope, Anthonyprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ardizzone, EdwardIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Harrap, PhyllisIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hawthorne, NigelNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kredel, FritzIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shrimpton, NicholasEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Shrimpton, NicholasIntroductionsecondary 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 Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:11:49 -0400)

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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)

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2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140432140, 0141198990

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