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The Warden by Anthony Trollope

The Warden (original 1855; edition 1995)

by Anthony Trollope

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2,562762,345 (3.84)4 / 394
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, English, fiction, British

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The Warden by Anthony Trollope (1855)



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English (75)  French (1)  All languages (76)
Showing 1-5 of 75 (next | show all)
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 |
David Shaw-Parker is a great reader. I really got sucked in. I'm ready for the next in the Chronicles of Barsetshire. Lovely language, great characters. Thanks to my sister Jane for the recommendation. ( )
  njcur | May 31, 2014 |
With a small town Victorian setting, the fictional Barsetshire, and an appealing somewhat Austen-like cast of characters, Trollope's novel The Warden illustrates just how complicated reforming a centuries old church policy can be, even when everyone involved has valid concerns and mostly the best of intentions. When John Hiram died in long ago 1434 his will left money and property for the support of twelve impoverished older men retired from the trade of wool-carding, the men being replaced by others as they passed on to the better world, all of which was to be overseen by a warden compensated for his work. The charity has prospered in the 400 or so years since it was established and has been able to continue its mission unabated.

Obviously by Victorian times though things had changed--there were no longer wool carders in Barsetshire for instance--so terms have had to be adjusted, but maybe they have strayed too far from the original intent? Currently the twelve elderly recipients are housed in comfortable lodgings, receiving all they need to live and allocated a small amount of money for their own use. Rev. Harding, the just and compassionate warden, also gives the twelve an extra stipend from his own pocket, and the men enjoy both his company and the beautiful music he plays in the evenings.

But then John Bold, a reform minded young man incidentally in love with the warden’s daughter, takes it into his head that the warden’s yearly salary is too much and that more of the charity's money should be going directly to the twelve men. Which sets up an achingly poignant conundrum. Should such a caring warden’s income be reduced? Everyone has a strong opinion about what is right, including the men themselves, and when the matter is taken up by the press the poor warden is vilified, horrifying him.

There is almost an O. Henry quality to this story, with some surprise twists at the end and most characters having to live with the unexpected consequences of actions they had thought so prudent at the time. Trollope uses The Warden to make lots of observations about human nature and the workings of Victorian society, which are wittily written and for the most part interesting, but they do slow the story down. I had heard The Warden is the weakest of Trollope’s Barsetshire novels, which makes me very eager to read the rest because I loved this one. ( )
  Jaylia3 | Apr 20, 2014 |
This is the first book in Trollope’s Chronicles of Barsetshire series. I’d heard in advance that it’s not always the best place to start with the series, but my type A personality insisted I read them in the correct order. It is a slow novel, one where very little action happens and I struggled to get into the first section. But at some point things clicked into place for me. I started to see past the surface plot of a financial debate dealing with the care of a local hospital, and I began to see the characters’ inner struggles.

Septimus Harding is the Warden, a title he earned by running Hiram's Hospital, a charity house. His daughter’s beau, John Bold, starts to question how the charity is run and draws up a case against the Warden. Harding has two daughters, Susan, who is already married, and Eleanor, who lives with him and who is being courted by John Bold. Bold’s decision to challenge Harding’s income puts an uncomfortable wrench in his plan to marry Eleanor.

Once you get past the initial slow start, the book provides an interesting look at the motives behind actions. Bond sees his purpose as noble and right even though he’s hurting the people he loves. It makes the reader question his decision, is it truly motivated by his beliefs or by his pride? Both Bond and Harding have difficult decisions to make and they are being encouraged by their friends to do very specific things. The local newspaper is also playing a part in aggravating the situation. In the end, does it matter why you make a decision if it is the right one? Or is it more important to stick to your original mission despite the effect it will have on others?

In some ways this novel reminded me of Gilead. Both books have a quiet nature and focus on the decisions of elderly men. Both also have a younger man who is struggling with a decision. Both have religious overtones that dictate the path of the main characters. It was an interesting parallel since the two books are set in such different time periods and locations.

BOTTOM LINE: An interesting read that took a bit to get into. I’ve heard the next book in the series is better and so I’m excited to read that one. I enjoyed watching Trollope peel away the layers of this issue until the moral core was revealed. I’m looking forward to seeing how he does that in the other Chronicles of Barsetshire novels.

“Bold began to comfort himself in the warmth of his own virtue.”

“In matters of love men do not see clearly in their own affairs.”

“There are some points on which no man can be contented to follow the advice of another,—some subjects on which a man can consult his own conscience only.” ( )
  bookworm12 | Mar 20, 2014 |
(1) The first of Trollope's 'Chronicles of Barsetshire' which I have heard is quite good. The only other Trollope I have ever read was 'The Eustace Diamonds' which I didn't care for but have always meant to give him another try. So to begin at the beginning. The is a relatively short novel about the warden (not in the terms we think of i.e. prison) so the caretaker of a charity home - called a hospital. A position he is granted by his friend the bishop. The job is a sinecure that comes with it a nice living and this is called into question by Dr. John Bold a 'reformer' who also just so happens to be courting his daughter. The poor warden is really a nice man and he is raked over the coals in the paper and torn between his current son-in-law the imposing Archdeacon Grantly and his potential future son-in-law.

The novel is a satire - no one's motivations or personality is spared. It certainly was a novel of its time in that there are many references to the structure and hierarchy, controversy, what have you within the Anglican church at the time. The introduction and references did a decent job explaining it - unfortunately I found said explanations so boring my eyes glazed over. The novel is vintage Victorian - not as flowery as Dickens, not as florid as the Brontes, or as erudite as George Eliot -- somewhere in between them all. I enjoyed it for the most part but was not bowled over. I am hoping this is just a mild introduction the the series and the drama will improve because the characters are in fact fairly well-drawn. I do remember feeling that 'Eustace Diamonds' was incredibly repetitive and I felt that a bit here as well. The warden's predicament was spelled out again, and again, and indeed - again.

Just OK for me. I plan to persevere with the 'Chronicles of Barsetshire,' at least with the next one which is already on my shelf. Trollope is really the only author missing from my Victorian repertoire, but really not my favorite as of this moment. So far, George Eliot would have that title. ( )
  jhowell | Jan 5, 2014 |
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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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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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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)

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Nine editions of this book were published by Audible.com.

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Penguin Australia

Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140432140, 0141198990

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