Saturday, February 6, 2010

Book #5 of 2010

Title: The Warden
Author/Editor: Anthony Trollope
Year Published: 1855
Category: Literature, 19th century.

Though not necessarily considered among the greatest of Trollope's novels, I selected THE WARDEN as my first taste of this prolific Victorian writer because it's the first in the Chronicles of Barsetshire sequence. I figured that if I enjoyed it I could proceed with the other five books in the series, and then go on from there to other series. I did indeed find much to like.

For one, this is the first Victorian novel to make me laugh out loud (and few books do, in general). Trollope has several barbs at the expense of Dickens, Carlyle and The Times which were amusing, but it's the ironic tone (specially in a chapter like "Mount Olympus") and gift for description that really captured my attention -- as well as the ethical drama, and the memorable characters. How can one not laugh or at least chuckle at an exchange like the following, which unfolds in the context of the novel's very serious proceedings?

'And so, Mr Bold, I'm to understand, I believe, that you are
desirous of abandoning this attack upon Mr Harding.'

'Oh, Dr Grantly, there has been no attack, I can assure you--'

'Well, well, we won't quarrel about words; I should call it
an attack--most men would so call an endeavour to take away
from a man every shilling of income that he has to live upon;
but it sha'n't be an attack, if you don't like it; you wish to
abandon this--this little game of backgammon you've begun to play.'

This is also a pretty short work by Trollope's later standards, so it seemed more accessible as an entry point to his canon than better-known titles. The plot did seem a little thin, stretched out to perhaps a greater length than it supported. But the digressions were so much fun that I really didn't mind. I know I'll be coming back for more.

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