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What I am struck by, besides the delight of being with these characters again, is how little the world has essentially changed in 150 years. Sure, now it's corporate fatcats instead of church hierarchy, but is it really so different? Those that got shall get....
The bishop did not whistle; we believe that they lose the power of doing so on being consecrated; and that in these days one might as easily meet a corrupt judge as a whistling bishop; but he looked as though he would have done so, but for his apron.
How much is conveyed? How many layers of meaning, character and humor are displayed? Well, I like it.
Maybe they just needed their version of Rush Limbaugh to even things out a bit.
But when rereading the series I will make sure to include it!
I just finished it and will write more later, as I have a lunch date. I hope others will add to my comments.
It's the subtle moral ambiguity of the characters that really strikes me. The only really "bad" characters are the journalists and other writers. Everyone else at least has some defensible reason for their position, and complex and very human motives for their actions. It rings so true to life.
Trollope never stoops to stock characterizations or simple morality. It's truly a fine writer who can draw up complex characters and make them so believable.
It's sure clear why Dickens lovers hate Trollope, tho. He really lays it on thick!
The thing that I remember most about Trollope is that he embodies that rare quality of writers that permits him to go on page after page expounding on background and description - even devoting entire chapters to it - without creating a sense that the story has "bogged down" or been forgotten. That, and, of course, his extraordinarily dry and subtle wit, which is such a lot of fun.
The last time I became involved in a Trollope discussion, perhaps ten years ago, a couple of us in the group were all but banished because we had the (temerity? bad taste?) to suggest that Trollope might have intended that one of his characters be perceived and understood to be a lesbian. For some reason, several of the female group members were horrified by the suggestion.
I agree, Trollope is very witty in that dry English way.
#9/10 I'm completely intrigued! I haven't run across anyone yet who earns "the L word." One of the delights of Trollope is his realistic female characters (although I hesitate to include the insufferable Lily Dale). Unlike nearly every other Victorian novelist, he never allows them to simper, and they often exchange very pragmatic, often cynical, opinions of the world that relegates them to mere appendages. Look at The Claverings, or The American Senator. Perhaps it's another reason why Dickens fans hate Trollope? Think of the impossibly saintly women he creates, such as Little Dorrit, or Florence from Dombey and Son, or Little Nell. Then there's the ridiculous Dora from Copperfield, and the one-dimensional Lady Dedlock from Bleak House. Not a flesh and blood wench in the lot! Oscar Wilde said, "One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing."
I think you could drop right in to BT and just take it on faith that there's animosity and it really wouldn't kill it too much. TW isn't exactly brimming with plot and intrigue, and you really need some notes to explain all the topical political commentary AT is making, so I can understand why modern readers might want to give it a pass.
Although it does contain some scathing Dickens bashing, if you're into that.
Perhaps it's another reason why Dickens fans hate Trollope
I am a Dickens' fan and like Trollope as well. Does it mean I am weird?
Can't we all just get along? ;-)
#15 - if we all just got along, it would make for some very boring posts. ;^)
About a month back I did have a civil but spirited set-to with tomcatmurr, a Dickens fan who pooh-poohs our beloved AT. I said that if Dickens were alive today he'd be writing TV sitcoms. And not the good ones.
To get back to The Warden: in vain I started a thread to discuss, or rather, to be enlightened on various aspects of the Church of England. No takers! I couldn't quite grasp what bishops can do and what they cannot (neither could Mrs. Proudie, of course), what deans and minor canons do, that sort of thing. Even some Web research didn't help. And I desperately want to know what a bishop's apron looks like. I keep picturing a very solumn gentleman in proper clerical black with a blue gingham thing tied around his waist. Very Monty Python.
Despite having been raised an Episcopalian, I couldn't follow all the minor offices myself. The Bishop can basically do just about anything in his diocese, and Deans can do anything in their catherdrals (unless over-ruled by the bishop). The rest of those titled gentlemen were some sort of secondary flunkeys. I'd assume "apron" is the inside/slang term for some sort of surplice-like vestment?
For What It's Worth, I found The Warden tedious. Recommending folks to read that one first might put them off Trollope ("I thought he was supposed to be clever and funny?"). To be honest, I'd have someone read it after Barchester Towers.
A short cassock reaching just above the knee, worn by archdeacons (for whom it is black) and bishops (for whom it is purple). Now largely obsolete.
Well, there you go.
I like The Warden much better the second time I read it, so there's an argument for reading it after BT. I've now contradicted myself. But that's okay: I'm a Gemini.
There's a thread in this group called "Church Politics" you should look at.
Not that that adds much to the conversation...
The composition of the Barchester novels (1854-1867) does roughly overlap in time with Wagner's work on The Ring (composed about 1850-1871, first complete performance 1876). And The Warden does seem to be a sort of Vorabend to the cycle, a short work introducing the main themes and getting us into the mood. Many of the main characters first appear in part two, and we have to wait until the final evening for the grand immolation scene. Trollope recaps almost as much as Wagner too... :-)
It soon runs into the sand, though. Even if you identify Mr Harding with Wotan and the Archdeacon with Loge (Mrs Proudie doubling as Erda and as Fafner, perhaps?), you can't really turn Eleanor and Mrs Grantly into Valkyries. Johnny Eames is the obvious Siegfried lookalike, but it's Mr Crawley who actually gets to fight the dragon.