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The Warden

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The Warden – Barchester Chronicles 1 - Anthony Trollope - 1855

The first of Trollope’s Barsetshire novels, The Warden concerns the moral dilemma of the Reverend Septimus Harding, who finds himself at the centre of a bitter conflict between defenders of Church privilege and the reforming impulses of the mid-Victorian period. Appointed warden of an almshouse, he is given a comfortable salary from its founder’s will to oversee the institution and the small weekly incomes given to the men who live there. Mr. Harding’s disproportionate salary, however, becomes a source of concern for a local reformer who denounces the allocation of funds as a Church abuse.

 

Interweaving the complexities of the Victorian world, the novel draws on ecclesiastical scandals, criticizes the power of the press, satirizes the law, and examines the growing influence of London on provincial life. Based on the most authoritative text published during Trollope’s life, that of 1878, the Broadview edition also includes appendices with material relating to the novel’s genesis, Trollope’s revisions, the sources of his literary parody, the historical background to the novel’s topical references, its reception by contemporary critics, and Trollope’s views on the Church of England.

I read this first of the Barchester Chronicles with my former book club in England. I have been trying to read one book every year ever since.

I loved all of the books and have started a thread on each one of them so we can discuss the books separately.

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Septimus Harding is the warden of Hiram’s Hospital, almshouses supported by an ancient charitable bequest. The book tells of the problems caused when questions are asked, and suspicions aroused, about the administration of the bequest.
Although innocent of any misconduct, the tender conscience of Mr Harding incites him to resign. This has consequences for his family and friends, and for the old men who had been under his care.

Not being an Anglican I found the roles of the various Cathedral hierarchy a bit confusing, but not so much that I couldn’t follow the story. Sometimes I got cross with Mr Harding’s tender conscience, and am not sure that anyone came out a winner in this particular dispute. Nevertheless I enjoyed the story, which was gently amusing and had some memorable characters.

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Not being an Anglican I found the roles of the various Cathedral hierarchy a bit confusing, but not so much that I couldn’t follow the story.
I think even Anglicans would have difficulty with them. Do they still have all of these roles in the 21st Century?

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I read The Warden recently after many years of gentle nudging by a Trollope loving friend of mine. I really enjoyed it, the humour is right up my street (Augustus Carp Esq is an all time favourite book of mine, and has certain similarities).

 

The Mr. Popular Sentiment dig at Dickens surprised me quite a bit. All the other characters are gently sent up, but poor Charles really gets the full treatment.

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I am about a third of the way through this novel and am loving it. It is the the first of Anthony Trollope's novels concerning Barchester. I tried reading Barchester Towers a few years back not knowing much about the novels and gave up so I hope that once I have read this novel I will get on a little better. There is a thread dealing with all the books but I will post on this one for now. I have not read the comments of others yet but will do so when I finish.

 

Thanks to the efforts of John Bold, a well meaning doctor and supporter of the poor, a storm is certainly brewing over Barchester Cathederal and some those concerned in it's day to day life. The book is based around a charity run by the Cathederal which was set up many hundreds of years ago and provides homes and a small income for twelve retired workmen of the area who have fallen on hard times. They are taken in and looked after for the rest of their lives living in a collection of Almes Houses set up for this reason. The charity came into being thanks to the will of a former parish member. Thanks to good management the charity has grown but those for whom it was set up receive the same treatment as when the charity came into being. The novel is based around an argument regarding the use of the extra money and has far reaching effects on those concerned.

 

The novel is beautifully written and a real joy to read. The characters concerned are well described and each likeable in their own way. As the story unfolds and the effects of John Bold's actions are felt, by himself and others, the reader is pulled along with Trollope and cannot fail but to be concerned of the final outcome. I am finding it difficult to pur down!

Edited by cherrypie

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I finished this novel earlier today and find myself rather sorry to do so. Although the basis of the story is a fairly serious one it is gently and humoursly told. As I have stated in my previous post all the main characters are clearly defined and have a set role to perform within the whole. In many ways the book is a male version of Cranford although there is more of a point to this story. I suspect that the suggestion made within the novel of the possible power of the press was a fairly new idea when the book was first published and I would suggest that this aspect of the book makes it of special interest today.

 

I found the ending of the book rather a sad one as nothing seemed to be gained and nobody the happier for the case. The only ones to gain in any way were the lawyers and the press and I actually found the book to be surprisingly meaningful in todays world. Although the book is fairly light-hearted and many of the characters tend towards the comic "The Warden" makes a number of well worth while points. A very clever book. I shall look forward to reading the other books in the Barchester collection.

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Just finished reading The Warden on CP's Kindle this afternoon.  For me this was quite a detour in literary style, not really ever having been one to delve into, or tackle, what I suppose would be termed the 'classics'.  I will admit that, at times, although The Warden is a relatively short book,  I did find myself wondering whether it was for me, but I determined to stick with it and was glad that I did.  There is no need for me to go over the content again as others have more than adequately done so before me; like Meg back in 2010 I did find myself wanting to shake Mr Harding a little for almost being TOO righteous in his own beliefs, ignoring the impact that his stand would have on others, particularly the twelve old men whom he counted as his friends in the hospital.  They certainly gained nothing from the whole affair, and I felt that they had been coerced into their support of the campaign against Mr Harding against their better judgement (and not a little greed).

 

Certainly there is comment here about the position and power of the Church at this time and the apparently almost unassailable status that those occupying high positions within it seemed to assume as their right, whilst the public and press are beginning to question those rights and the amount of power and wealth it all entails.

 

I would not yet be able to say whether this has encouraged me to pursue the Barchester stories any further, or indeed prevail with other 'classic's.  I think my preferred reading leans towards more modern or contemporary styles of writing, but who knows.........BGO has seen me heading off in directions I wouldn't have done previously so you never know.

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