So, what's in store for us? Perhaps "The Three Musketeers" for the Holiday season?
: Harding is indeed a fascinating character. He
: is more than a little pusillanimous. He
: cannot bear attacks in the newspaper. In
: Barchester Towers, he seems to cave to the
: Jupiter's off-handed comment about the age
: of clerical appointees without even a peep.
: This is why it is essential to have read The
: Warden first. In The Warden, he considered
: the charges leveled against him and decided
: that they were just. True, he was deeply
: upset by the attacks, but it seemed to me
: that he might have weathered them (bolstered
: by Dr. Grantly) if he thought that they were
: unjust. Despite his timidity, his ethics
: are truly impressive. In BT, one gets the
: sense of "here we go again." He
: simply cannot withstand being vilified all
: over again. Trollope makes the irony a bit
: more delicious by making it clear that it
: took a slow news day for the Jupiter to even
: address the Barchester deanship. It is
: unlikely that they would pursue Slope's
: cause. (Indeed, he is buried at the end of
: the article. While I know nothing of
: mid-nineteenth century journalistic styles,
: it is hard to believe that they have changed
: so much that an article that
: enthusiastically supported Slope would not
: mention him near the beginning.) So Harding
: decides to let it go. This does not appear
: to be deeply principled, as his behavior in
: The Warden did. Without The Warden, he is a
: much less compelling character. Both
: together (TW and BT) complete a
: three-dimensional portrait of a man who is
: both brave and passive, weak (in some ways)
: but unswervingly ethical. It is quite a
: triumph of characterization.
: I also intend to read the rest of the Barset
: novels (slowly). I don't know whether I'll
: ever get to the political/Palliser novels.
: They are long and life is short. But maybe.
: Many critics seem to rank The Last
: Chronicle of Barset as the best of the
: series. Some even rank it as Trollope's
: best novel. I don't think that I want to
: jump straight to it, though, having
: discovered how important reading the first
: two novels in order was.
: P.S. - God, no! Much as I was delighted by
: Signora Neroni, I certainly would not wish
: to personally fall into her clutches!
: --Previous Message--
: I agree with you on every point.
: Characterization is certainly Trollope's
: strongest feature. Eleanor is truly an
: independent woman: she doesn't love her
: father because she is submissive, but
: because she recognizes in him both his
: virtues (true ethics, never hypocritical or
: accommodating) and his defects (one might
: say he is somewhat pusillanimous) and still
: adheres to him. She stands up to Dr.
: Grantley out of pure principle and risks the
: misunderstanding that gets her in trouble,
: and, above all, she stands up to Slope in
: the highest point of the plot, the
: well-deserved smack in the face. Signora
: Neroni is simply delightful (though probably
: not as a lover) and, as you say, she goes to
: heights of generosity in the middle of her
: But a very intriguing character is Harding.
: What to make of him? Is he a weak, indolent
: drifter, or a brave, ethical man? Can one be
: both? In this sense, "The Warden"
: is indispensable in order to understand him
: a bit more, for it is in that novel that the
: reader sees him in the middle of an
: agonizing ethical dilemma. He turns out to
: be right and also lucky in the end, but the
: struggle is not less hard for all that.
: I look forward to reading the rest of the
: novels in the series, slowly. Trollope is a
: novelist of a high order. Perhaps, as you
: say, he doesn't reach the literary altitudes
: of Dickens or Eliot. Dickens is an artist of
: extremes, of caricature taken to high art,
: willing to take enormous risks and sometimes
: disappoint; Eliot is firmly planted on the
: ground of reality and we don't expect her
: characters to equal Harding's ethical
: standards for such are rare. Trollope casts
: a humorous glance at the world without
: forgetting the serious part of the little
: battles we all have to fight and which are
: the greatest for us, and he succeeds.
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