February 15th, 2012


Book Report: The Warden

I continue to Trollope along slowly. I have now finished The Warden, which may be my favorite so far. It involves questions of conscience that different characters resolve differently. Better, it includes two rants. One rant focuses on the absurd tyrannical power of the press. I don’t happen to agree with the arguments as a whole, being a person to whom the First Amendment is dear and (mostly) an admirer of Thomas Jefferson, who said something about how we could function without government reasonably well, but never without newspapers. The opinions expressed, however, were so much better written than today’s versions of the same complaints about “the media” and “the media bias.” Also, Trollope rarely loses his temper.

He lost it again, however, when he addressed the treatment of current events in serial novels. Mr. Popular Sentiment, his barely disguised version of Charles Dickens, writes, according to Trollope, ridiculous caricatures in order to promote unfairly the rights of the poor. This was particularly funny to me because all of Trollope’s characters seem to be sent directly from Victorian Central Casting.

To return to the questions of conscience, I found one particular character’s decision to give up his crusade against wrong for love of a woman disturbing. I attribute at least some of this feeling to my recent rereading of Busman’s Honeymoon. The rest of it comes from my hope that the ideal can overcome the practical in order to change the world for the better, at least sometimes.