'Mr Slope flattered himself that he could out-manoeuvre the lady...he did not doubt of ultimate triumph.'
Barchester Towers (1857) was the book that made Trollope's reputation and it remains his most popular and enjoyable novel. The arrival of a new bishop in Barchester, accompanied by his formidable wife and ambitious chaplain, Obadiah Slope, sets the town in turmoil as Archdeacon Grantly declares 'War, war, internecine war!' on Bishop Proudie and his supporters. Who will come out on top in the battle between the archdeacon, the bishop, Mr Slope, and Mrs Proudie?
The livelihood of Mr Harding, the saintly hero of The Warden, is once more under threat but clerical warfare finds itself tangled up in the wayward (and sometimes perverse) desires of the many courtships, seductions, and romances of the book. Who will marry Eleanor Bold? Can any man resist the charms of the exotically beautiful 'La Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni'? Will the oily Mr Slope finally get his comeuppance? John Bowen's introduction examines the literary skill with which Trollope combines comedy and acute social and pyschological observation in this new edition.
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About the Author
Anthony Trollope (24 April 1815- 6 December 1882) was one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Some of his best-loved works, the Chronicles of Barsetshire, revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire
John Bowen has written widely on nineteenth-century fiction and his publications include Other Dickens: Pickwick to Chuzzlewit (OUP, 2000) and Palgrave Advances in Charles Dickens Studies (2003), co-edited with Robert L. Patten. He has edited Dickens's Barnaby Rudge for Penguin and Trollope's Phineas Redux for Oxford World's Classics (2011).
Read an Excerpt
By Anthony Trollope
Dover Publications, Inc.Copyright © 2017 Anthony Trollope
All rights reserved.
Who Will Be the Hew Bishop?
In the latter days of July in the year 185–, a most important question was for ten days hourly asked in the cathedral city of Barchester, and answered every hour in various ways— Who was to be the new bishop?
The death of old Dr. Grantly, who had for many years filled that chair with meek authority, took place exactly as the ministry of Lord — — was going to give place to that of Lord — —. The illness of the good old man was long and lingering, and it became at last a matter of intense interest to those concerned whether the new appointment should be made by a conservative or liberal government.
It was pretty well understood that the outgoing premier had made his selection and that if the question rested with him, the mitre would descend on the head of Archdeacon Grantly, the old bishop's son. The archdeacon had long managed the affairs of the diocese, and for some months previous to the demise of his father rumour had confidently assigned to him the reversion of his father's honours.
Bishop Grantly died as he had lived, peaceably, slowly, without pain and without excitement. The breath ebbed from him almost imperceptibly, and for a month before his death it was a question whether he were alive or dead.
A trying time was this for the archdeacon, for whom was designed the reversion of his father's see by those who then had the giving away of episcopal thrones. I would not be understood to say that the prime minister had in so many words promised the bishopric to Dr. Grantly. He was too discreet a man for that. There is a proverb with reference to the killing of cats, and those who know anything either of high or low government places will be well aware that a promise may be made without positive words and that an expectant may be put into the highest state of encouragement, though the great man on whose breath he hangs may have done no more than whisper that "Mr. So-and-so is certainly a rising man."
Such a whisper had been made, and was known by those who heard it to signify that the cures of the diocese of Barchester should not be taken out of the hands of the archdeacon. The then prime minister was all in all at Oxford, and had lately passed a night at the house of the Master of Lazarus. Now the Master of Lazarus — which is, by the by, in many respects the most comfortable as well as the richest college at Oxford — was the archdeacon's most intimate friend and most trusted counsellor. On the occasion of the prime minister's visit, Dr. Grantly was of course present, and the meeting was very gracious. On the following morning Dr. Gwynne, the master, told the archdeacon that in his opinion the thing was settled.
At this time the bishop was quite on his last legs; but the ministry also were tottering. Dr. Grantly returned from Oxford, happy and elated, to resume his place in the palace and to continue to perform for the father the last duties of a son, which, to give him his due, he performed with more tender care than was to be expected from his usual somewhat worldly manners.
A month since, the physicians had named four weeks as the outside period during which breath could be supported within the body of the dying man. At the end of the month the physicians wondered, and named another fortnight. The old man lived on wine alone, but at the end of the fortnight he still lived, and the tidings of the fall of the ministry became more frequent. Sir Lamda Mewnew and Sir Omicron Pie, the two great London doctors, now came down for the fifth time and declared, shaking their learned heads, that another week of life was impossible; and as they sat down to lunch in the episcopal dining-room, whispered to the archdeacon their own private knowledge that the ministry must fall with five days. The son returned to his father's room and, after administering with his own hands the sustaining modicum of madeira, sat down by the bedside to calculate his chances.
The ministry were to be out within five days: his father was to be dead within— no, he rejected that view of the subject. The ministry were to be out, and the diocese might probably be vacant at the same period. There was much doubt as to the names of the men who were to succeed to power, and a week must elapse before a cabinet was formed. Would not vacancies be filled by the outgoing men during this week? Dr. Grantly had a kind of idea that such would be the case but did not know, and then he wondered at his own ignorance on such a question.
He tried to keep his mind away from the subject, but he could not. The race was so very close, and the stakes were so very high. He then looked at the dying man's impassive, placid face. There was no sign there of death or disease; it was something thinner than of yore, somewhat grayer, and the deep lines of age more marked; but, as far as he could judge, life might yet hang there for weeks to come. Sir Lamda Mewnew and Sir Omicron Pie had thrice been wrong, and might yet be wrong thrice again. The old bishop slept during twenty of the twenty-four hours, but during the short periods of his waking moments, he knew both his son and his dear old friend, Mr. Harding, the archdeacon's father-in-law, and would thank them tenderly for their care and love. Now he lay sleeping like a baby, resting easily on his back, his mouth just open, and his few gray hairs straggling from beneath his cap; his breath was perfectly noiseless, and his thin, wan hand, which lay above the coverlid, never moved. Nothing could be easier than the old man's passage from this world to the next.
But by no means easy were the emotions of him who sat there watching. He knew it must be now or never. He was already over fifty, and there was little chance that his friends who were now leaving office would soon return to it. No probable British prime minister but he who was now in, he who was so soon to be out, would think of making a bishop of Dr. Grantly. Thus he thought long and sadly, in deep silence, and then gazed at that still living face, and then at last dared to ask himself whether he really longed for his father's death.
The effort was a salutary one, and the question was answered in a moment. The proud, wishful, worldly man sank on his knees by the bedside and, taking the bishop's hand within his own, prayed eagerly that his sins might be forgiven him.
His face was still buried in the clothes when the door of the bedroom opened noiselessly and Mr. Harding entered with a velvet step. Mr. Harding's attendance at that bedside had been nearly as constant as that of the archdeacon, and his ingress and egress was as much a matter of course as that of his son-in-law. He was standing close beside the archdeacon before he was perceived, and would also have knelt in prayer had he not feared that his doing so might have caused some sudden start and have disturbed the dying man. Dr. Grantly, however, instantly perceived him and rose from his knees. As he did so Mr. Harding took both his hands and pressed them warmly. There was more fellowship between them at that moment than there had ever been before, and it so happened that after circumstances greatly preserved the feeling. As they stood there pressing each other's hands, the tears rolled freely down their cheeks.
"God bless you, my dears," said the bishop with feeble voice as he woke. "God bless you— may God bless you both, my dear children." And so he died.
There was no loud rattle in the throat, no dreadful struggle, no palpable sign of death, but the lower jaw fell a little from its place, and the eyes which had been so constantly closed in sleep now remained fixed and open. Neither Mr. Harding nor Dr. Grantly knew that life was gone, though both suspected it.
"I believe it's all over," said Mr. Harding, still pressing the other's hands. "I think — nay, I hope it is."
"I will ring the bell," said the other, speaking all but in a whisper. "Mrs. Phillips should be here."
Mrs. Phillips, the nurse, was soon in the room, and immediately, with practised hand, closed those staring eyes.
"It's all over, Mrs. Phillips?" asked Mr. Harding.
"My lord's no more," said Mrs. Phillips, turning round and curtseying low with solemn face; "his lordship's gone more like a sleeping babby than any that I ever saw."
"It's a great relief, Archdeacon," said Mr. Harding, "a great relief — dear, good, excellent old man. Oh that our last moments may be as innocent and as peaceful as his!"
"Surely," said Mrs. Phillips. "The Lord be praised for all his mercies; but, for a meek, mild, gentle-spoken Christian, his lordship was — " and Mrs. Phillips, with unaffected but easy grief, put up her white apron to her flowing eyes.
"You cannot but rejoice that it is over," said Mr. Harding, still consoling his friend. The archdeacon's mind, however, had already travelled from the death chamber to the closet of the prime minister. He had brought himself to pray for his father's life, but now that that life was done, minutes were too precious to be lost. It was now useless to dally with the fact of the bishop's death — useless to lose perhaps everything for the pretence of a foolish sentiment.
But how was he to act while his father-in-law stood there holding his hand? How, without appearing unfeeling, was he to forget his father in the bishop — to overlook what he had lost and think only of what he might possibly gain?
"No, I suppose not," said he at last in answer to Mr. Harding. "We have all expected it so long."
Mr. Harding took him by the arm and led him from the room. "We will see him again to-morrow morning," said he; "we had better leave the room now to the women." And so they went downstairs.
It was already evening and nearly dark. It was most important that the prime minister should know that night that the diocese was vacant. Everything might depend on it, and so, in answer to Mr. Harding's further consolation, the archdeacon suggested that a telegraph message should be immediately sent off to London. Mr. Harding, who had really been somewhat surprised to find Dr. Grantly, as he thought, so much affected, was rather taken aback, but he made no objection. He knew that the archdeacon had some hope of succeeding to his father's place, though he by no means knew how highly raised that hope had been.
"Yes," said Dr. Grantly, collecting himself and shaking off his weakness, "we must send a message at once; we don't know what might be the consequence of delay. Will you do it?"
"I! Oh, yes; certainly. I'll do anything, only I don't know exactly what it is you want."
Dr. Grantly sat down before a writing-table and, taking pen and ink, wrote on a slip of paper as follows:
By Electric Telegraph. For the Earl of — —, Downing Street, or elsewhere. The Bishop of Barchester is dead. Message sent by the Rev. Septimus Harding.
"There," said he. "Just take that to the telegraph office at the railway station and give it in as it is; they'll probably make you copy it on to one of their own slips; that's all you'll have to do; then you'll have to pay them half a crown." And the archdeacon put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the necessary sum.
Mr. Harding felt very much like an errand-boy and also felt that he was called on to perform his duties as such at rather an unseemly time, but he said nothing and took the slip of paper and the proffered coin.
"But you've put my name into it, Archdeacon."
"Yes," said the other, "there should be the name of some clergyman, you know, and what name so proper as that of so old a friend as yourself? The earl won't look at the name, you may be sure of that; but my dear Mr. Harding, pray don't lose any time."
Mr. Harding got as far as the library door on his way to the station when he suddenly remembered the news with which he was fraught when he entered the poor bishop's bedroom. He had found the moment so inopportune for any mundane tidings that he had repressed the words which were on his tongue, and immediately afterwards all recollection of the circumstance was for the time banished by the scene which had occurred.
"But, Archdeacon," said he, turning back, "I forgot to tell you — the ministry are out."
"Out!" ejaculated the archdeacon in a tone which too plainly showed his anxiety and dismay, although under the circumstances of the moment he endeavoured to control himself. "Out! Who told you so?"
Mr. Harding explained that news to this effect had come down by electric telegraph and that the tidings had been left at the palace door by Mr. Chadwick.
The archdeacon sat silent for awhile meditating, and Mr. Harding stood looking at him. "Never mind," said the archdeacon at last; "send the message all the same. The news must be sent to someone, and there is at present no one else in a position to receive it. Do it at once, my dear friend; you know I would not trouble you, were I in a state to do it myself. A few minutes' time is of the greatest importance."
Mr. Harding went out and sent the message, and it may be as well that we should follow it to its destination. Within thirty minutes of its leaving Barchester it reached the Earl his inner library. What elaborate letters, what eloquent appeals, what indignant remonstrances he might there have to frame, at such a moment, may be conceived but not described! How he was preparing his thunder for successful rivals, standing like a British peer with his back to the sea-coal fire, and his hands in his breeches pocket — show his fine eye was lit up with anger, and his forehead gleamed with patriotism-how he stamped his foot as he thought of his heavy associates — how he all but swore as he remembered how much too clever one of them had been — my creative readers may imagine. But was he so engaged? No: history and truth compel me to deny it. He was sitting easily in a lounging chair, conning over a Newmarket list, and by his elbow on the table was lying open an uncut French novel on which he was engaged.
He opened the cover in which the message was enclosed and, having read it, he took his pen and wrote on the back of it —
For the Earl of — —, With the Earl of — —'s compliments,
and sent it off again on its journey.
Thus terminated our unfortunate friend's chance of possessing the glories of a bishopric.
The names of many divines were given in the papers as that of the bishop-elect. The British Grandmother declared that Dr. Gwynne was to be the man, in compliment to the late ministry. This was a heavy blow to Dr. Grantly, but he was not doomed to see himself superseded by his friend. The Anglican Devotee put forward confidently the claims of a great London preacher of austere doctrines; and The Eastern Hemisphere, an evening paper supposed to possess much official knowledge, declared in favour of an eminent naturalist, a gentleman most completely versed in the knowledge of rocks and minerals but supposed by many to hold on religious subjects no special doctrines whatever. The Jupiter, that daily paper which, as we all know, is the only true source of infallibly correct information on all subjects, for awhile was silent but at last spoke out. The merits of all these candidates were discussed and somewhat irreverently disposed of, and then The Jupiter declared that Dr. Proudie was to be the man.
Dr. Proudie was the man. Just a month after the demise of the late bishop, Dr. Proudie kissed the Queen's hand as his successor-elect.
We must beg to be allowed to draw a curtain over the sorrows of the archdeacon as he sat, sombre and sad at heart, in the study of his parsonage at Plumstead Episcopi. On the day subsequent to the dispatch of the message he heard that the Earl of — — had consented to undertake the formation of a ministry, and from that moment he knew that his chance was over. Many will think that he was wicked to grieve for the loss of episcopal power, wicked to have coveted it, nay, wicked even to have thought about it, in the way and at the moments he had done so.
With such censures I cannot profess that I completely agree. The nolo episcopari, though still in use, is so directly at variance with the tendency of all human wishes that it cannot be thought to express the true aspirations of rising priests in the Church of England. A lawyer does not sin in seeking to be a judge, or in compassing his wishes by all honest means. A young diplomat entertains a fair ambition when he looks forward to be the lord of a first-rate embassy, and a poor novelist, when he attempts to rival Dickens or rise above Fitzjeames, commits no fault, though he may be foolish. Sydney Smith truly said that in these recreant days we cannot expect to find the majesty of St. Paul beneath the cassock of a curate. If we look to our clergymen to be more than men, we shall probably teach ourselves to think that they are less, and can hardly hope to raise the character of the pastor by denying to him the right to entertain the aspirations of a man.
Excerpted from Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope. Copyright © 2017 Anthony Trollope. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
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Table of Contents
CHAPTER I: Who Will Be the New Bishop?
CHAPTER II: Hiram's Hospital According to Act of Parliament
CHAPTER III: Dr. and Mrs. Proudie
CHAPTER IV: The Bishop's Chaplain
CHAPTER V: A Morning Visit
CHAPTER VI: War
CHAPTER VII: The Dean and Chapter Take Counsel
CHAPTER VIII: The Ex-Warden Rejoices in His Probable Return to the Hospital
CHAPTER IX: The Stanhope Family
CHAPTER X: Mrs. Proudie's Reception—Commenced
CHAPTER XI: Mrs. Proudie's Reception—Concluded
CHAPTER XII: Slope versus Harding
CHAPTER XIII: The Rubbish Cart
CHAPTER XIV: The New Champion
CHAPTER XV: The Widow's Suitors
CHAPTER XVI: Baby Worship
CHAPTER XVII: Who Shall Be Cock of the Walk?
CHAPTER XVIII: The Widow's Persecution
CHAPTER XIX: Barchester by Moonlight
CHAPTER XX: Mr. Arabin
CHAPTER XXI: St. Ewold's Parsonage
CHAPTER XXII: The Thornes of Ullathorne
CHAPTER XXIII: Mr. Arabin Reads Himself in at St. Ewold's
CHAPTER XXIV: Mr. Slope Manages Matters Very Cleverly at Puddingdale
CHAPTER XXV: Fourteen Arguments in Favour of Mr. Quiverful's Claims
CHAPTER XXVI: Mrs. Proudie Wrestles and Gets a Fall
CHAPTER XXVII: A Love Scene
CHAPTER XXVIII: Mrs. Bold is Entertained by Dr. and Mrs. Grantly at Plumstead
CHAPTER XXIX: A Serious Interview
CHAPTER XXX: Another Love Scene
CHAPTER XXXI: The Bishop's Library
CHAPTER XXXII: A New Candidate for Ecclesiastical Honours
CHAPTER XXXIII: Mrs. Proudie Victrix
CHAPTER XXXIV: Oxford—The Master and Tutor of Lazarus
CHAPTER XXXV: Miss Thorne's Fête Champêtre
CHAPTER XXXVI: Ullathorne Sports—Act I
CHAPTER XXXVII: The Signora Neroni, the Countess De Courcy, and Mrs. Proudie Meet Each Other at Ullathorne
CHAPTER XXXVIII: The Bishop Sits Down to Breakfast, and the Dean Dies
CHAPTER XXXIX: The Lookalofts and the Greenacres
CHAPTER XL: Ullathorne Sports—Act II
CHAPTER XLI: Mrs. Bold Confides Her Sorrow to Her Friend Miss Stanhope
CHAPTER XLII: Ullathorne Sports—Act III
CHAPTER XLIII: Mr. and Mrs. Quiverful Are Made Happy. Mr. Slope is Encouraged by the Press
CHAPTER XLIV: Mrs. Bold at Home
CHAPTER XLV: The Stanhopes at Home
CHAPTER XLVI: Mr. Slope's Parting Interview with the Signora
CHAPTER XLVII: The Dean Elect
CHAPTER XLVIII: Miss Thorne Shows Her Talent at Match-Making
CHAPTER XLIX: The Beelzebub Colt
CHAPTER L: The Archdeacon Is Satisfied with the State of Affairs
CHAPTER LI: Mr. Slope Bids Farewell to the Palace and Its Inhabitants
CHAPTER LII: The New Dean Takes Possession of the Deanery, and the New Warden of the Hospital
CHAPTER LIII: Conclusion
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
eBook, 2015 Read your Freebies, historical fiction read 1/10-1/13/2015 4 stars " The sorrows of our heroes and heroines, they are your delight, oh public!— their sorrows, or their sins, or their absurdities; not their virtues, good sense, and consequent rewards. When we begin to tint our final pages with couleur de rose, as in accordance with fixed rule we must do, we altogether extinguish our own powers of pleasing. When we become dull, we offend your intellect; and we must become dull or we should offend your taste" At almost 600 pages, this is a weighty tome. With its focus the mid 1800s British Anglican Church,aka the Church of England, its even heavier. However, Trollope, while taking on the polity if said church and all its foibles, makes what could be a dreary boring book a lot of fun and very humorous while introducing problems that are inate in human kind: we all stumble, we are all forgiven, and we all luve in an imperfect world. The names, in now hindsight introduce their character: Slope, Proudie, Grantly,Bold, Stanhope, Arabin, Harding, Quiverfill, Thorne....all well drawn characters in a soap opera to rival that of the original Upstairs,Downstairs. The profundity of their actions and pronouncements are dissected by Trollope as he speaks to the reader directly on occassion, to elaborate outside the situation, for good or not. Hence the quote above taken from the last chapter, as we catch our breath, from a death at the beginning that changes the characters and their interactions, to one near the end that makes it "all good", sliwly we follow these people through a season of change in response to life, as well as politics, polity, the role of women, and propriety. "Our doctrine", writes Trollope, "is that the author and the reader should move along together in full confidence with each other. Let the personages of the drama undergo ever so complete a comedy of errors among themselves, but let the spectator never mistake the Syracusan for the Ephesian; otherwise he is one of the dupes, and the part of a dupe is never dignified." This was an easier read than I had imagined, and very entertaining. It is my first Anthony Trollope book, read at the suggestion of a reviewer/ blogger I know who praises Trollope to the heavens. So, Simon, this review is for you
In stacks. I tried to read it, really I did, but it just didn't grab me. I'll try it again someday and will probably love it.
The death of the bishop of the fictional town of Barchester sets in motion a pitched battle of religion in this book by Anthony Trollope. One one side is the new bishop, his domineering wife, and his ambitious new chaplain, Mr. Slope. On the other side is practically every other member of the clergy in the town, from the dean, the archbishop, and the entire chapter. Entangled in the dispute is mild Mr. Harding, formerly warden of the Barchester hospital, providing bed and care for 12 worthy aged men. A scandal forces him from his position and threatens to split the town in half. Mr. Harding's widowed daughter Mrs. Bold is another focus of the story, this time providing the romance. With three eligible men seeking her hand - or is it her fortune - she remains oblivious until her hand is almost literally forced.I was surprised to find myself really enjoying this book. The beginning was rather rough, started as it does with solely ecclesiastical matters. I know nothing at all of the organization of the Anglican church and was bewildered by the politics involved. But once the personalities behind the offices began to emerge, I was really hooked. The style is rather old-fashioned, but not so much that I couldn't read it quickly. Highly recommended - lots of fun.
There was a time when Anglican clergy did not wear stripy jumpers. Glorious intrigues in the provinces with the high-born gentlemen of the Victorian English Church.
Trollope likes to walk you through his books hand in hand. It took me a while to get used to this style but once I did I began to appreciate his work. This novel is a gentle read especially after I'd just finished "Girl with a dragon tattoo". I can't think of two more diametrically opposed novels. I think I needed a rest after Stieg Larsson's book. This is the second novel in the series and should be read after The Warden. We meet the same characters a bit later. The've now become old friends - Trollope's characterisation is so good. There's not much of a plot but what there is Trollope makes the most of. However this doesn't matter - the strength of the novel is in the way the characters interplay with each other.If I have a criticism it is that Trollope takes the easy way at the end and ties everything together in a happy ending for everyone. Even the odious Mrs Proudie and Slope don't lose out.A good read. I'm already well into the third in the series - Dr Thorne.
Recommended if you enjoy Jane Austen. Trollope is actually funnier than Austen, and his characters are less black-and-white, more finely drawn. There is some rather stunning sexism which is perhaps appropriate from the era that produced the work but shocks nevertheless, perhaps because the story FEELS like an Austen, who never would have compared women (in a loving way, believe it or not) to parasites. I found it mostly easy to ignore, because the story was so fresh and delightful otherwise. He also has a fun way of going against the storytelling traditions of the times, calling himself out on it, and making the story work anyway. This was a surprising treat!
What a read! Exquisite.
Again, Harding's gentle humour and wickedly drawn characters are a delight. I can't help but think they were slightly more delightful when in that more slender volume The Warden though. But one can hardly complain that very little happens in Harding when that is one of the joys that draws one there. Also, Barchester Towers has the Signora Neroni, and Bertie, both of whom I am in love with. How Harding manages to write characters who he clearly disapproves of but represents so generously is a core part of his charms.
After a slow start due to the language and writing style, I enjoyed Barchester Towers very much. The plot is exquisitely interwoven with the many well-drawn characters coming together in the last third of the book. The humour and satire is gentle as we revisit characters from Trollope's prequel, The Warden, which isn't necessary to understanding this novel. Barchester Towers will not an easy read for many people, but this British classic is well worth the effort.
Barchester Towers, published in 1857, is the second of Anthony Trollope's Barsetshire novels and probably the most famous. On the face of it, the plot seems a bit dull; the high and low church factions of the Church of England struggle for power within the fictional cathedral city of Barchester. Alongside the religious and political intrigues there are domestic subterfuges that are somewhat reminiscent of Austen. And that's it. I enjoy classics and length is not usually a problem for me, but for the first hundred pages or so I did find it something of a struggle to keep reading.But I'm glad I gave heed to the Trollope fans and persevered, because once Trollope gets all his pieces set things do start moving. Not in a spectacular or dramatic way, but as outside events begin changing the relationships, I found myself drawn in. Despite his very-much-present authorial opinions, Trollope draws his characters with a light hand and drops little truths about them so casually. In one passage he says of Mr. Harding and his daughter Eleanor that "there was little confidence between them, though neither of them knew why it should be so." This so perfectly describes a relationship in my own life that I just stopped at that sentence to marvel over Trollope's insight into how we interact with the people we love.Trollope always takes pains to defend his characters (at least, the ones he likes) in the eyes of his readers. I'm still not sure why I don't think Mr. Arabin a complete cad for his attendance on Signora Neroni, but so it is. Trollope makes him too sympathetic to admit of such a judgment. But on the other hand, Trollope makes sure we know his distaste for characters like Mr. Slope. Though Dr. Proudie is indicted for his weakness, next to Mr. Slope he seems quite benign and we, like Dr. Grantly, feel rather inclined to give him a pat on the head.Trollope definitely has a fascination with the idea of the termagant wife. In The Warden the strong wife is Mrs. Grantly, and she wields her power wisely. The nightcap/bedroom discussions are so amusing. But in Barchester Towers we see wifely power gone wrong in Mrs. Proudie, whose domination of her husband ¿ while quite funny ¿ is also a bit sad. Despite this, I never could dislike Mrs. Proudie. She's too much fun in her battles with the odious Mr. Slope.One of the fascinating things about Trollope's style (not that I'm an expert; I've only read this and The Warden thus far) is his approach to the relationship between the author and reader. Trollope openly scorns the devices many authors employ to heighten suspense and keep their readers gasping until the denouément ¿ which is in such cases, he maintains, always a disappointment. He puts it so gracefully: "Our doctrine is that the author and reader should move along together in full confidence with each other" (127). I think readers do like to be tricked sometimes (how else would the mystery genre survive?), but reading an author who so frankly tells you right at the start that the heroine is not going to marry either of her fulsome suitors is a nice change.Though I quite liked the novel, none of this is effusive praise. I have enjoyed the first two Barsetshire novels, but there is something so mild about the sensibility and humor that I respond to it in kind. Trollope is not an author to recommend to a reader new to classics; he requires patience and the ability to see small events as big to the characters living them. There are no flashy special effects in a Trollope novel, I'm finding ¿ and the sensation is pleasant.
Wonderful! I absolutely devoured this book.I was massively entertained by the Machiavellian manoeuvrings of the oily and ambitious Mr Slope and the autocratic Mrs Proudie as they each sought to capture the bishop and become the acknowledged éminence grise of the diocese - for all the world as though it were an established diocesan office and the only thing to settle was who would occupy it. (Although would either be happy with that title? What would the Low church Evangelical equivalent be?)Leaving aside the wannabe éminences grises, the other characters were also splendidly rendered. There's a realism to all of Trollope's characters that I love. They are very human: neither wholly bad nor wholly good, but instead full of ambitions, foibles, faults and graces which make them very complex and very realistic.The plot is straightforward - the arrival of a new bishop causes conflict between High and Low church parties in Barchester - but the twists and turns as the characters interact make it very entertaining. The writing is wonderful - vivid and rich, with lots of literary and political allusions. (I recommend reading an edition with notes - especially if you're unfamiliar with the Church of England, Victorian politics, and the history and literature of ancient Greece and Rome - and keeping a dictionary close at hand.) It also has a warm, conversational tone and no small amount of humour and tension, despite the serious moral, political and social comment woven into the narrative throughout.I think that that there are several tests of great literature, and in my opinion all the social comment and technical linguistic skill in the world are of little merit if the book is easily put down and forgotten about. I finished this book just before 2 o'clock this morning because there was NO way on God's green earth that I was putting it down and going to sleep without having reached the end. Not negotiable, no matter what time the alarm was set for. Sleep? Irrelevant. Who needs to sleep when there are books like this to read? The narrative was compelling, the writing addictive and the comment insightful. This is great literature and a great read.
This novel tells the tale of a variety of colourful characters in the fictional cathedral town of Barchester, surrounding in particular the arrival of the new bishop, the hen-pecked Dr Prodie. This book follows the intrigues of ambition and power struggles within the Church.First off, this book is very stereotypically English and old-fashioned. Its sense of irony, its very descriptive depiction of corruption and hypocrisy, the well-drawn out characters - I thought it was wonderful, as I can relate to people and situations like this. Although the novel centers around intrigues within the cathedral, the situations could equally well be translated to other areas of life because it is really about normal everyday occurrences.As I've said already, the characters help to bring this book to life, and you find yourself learning to love them, despite their faults. The bumbling bishop is loveable in his own way. The Signora Madeline Vesey Neroni, who seems to be able to ensnare all men and arouse the hatred and jealously of all women by holding court on a large sofa, does have a heart and helps a blossoming love affair to flourish. Even the "baddie", Mr Slope, is so well portrayed that you can feel some sympathy for him when things don't go his way.This book is part of a series known as the Barchester Chronicles, and I think this one has certainly whetted my appetite to find out more about these wonderful characters...
I¿d read The Warden before Barchester Towers and thought it was a nice book, not really something that stuck with me, but a more or less good read. This one, however, is one of my all-time favorites. Went on to read the whole series, the Palliser series ¿ now working on the others. The well-developed characters, mellifluous prose and Trollope¿s good-natured sense of humor distinguish the second in the Barsetshire series.As in The Warden, the plot involves minor Anglican appointments in the town of Barchester. Familiar characters also turn up ¿ Mr. Harding, the saintly ex-warden, his newly widowed daughter Eleanor and his son-in-law, the imperious archdeacon Dr. Grantly. After Dr. Grantly¿s father the bishop dies, he expects the position but instead it goes to an outsider, Dr. Proudie. The appointment leads to a split in the town between Grantly and his conservative if somewhat indifferent High Churchmen and Proudie with the fervent evangelical Low Church faction. Actually, it isn¿t Bishop Proudie ¿ amiable and conflict-phobic ¿ leading the charge, but his memorably bossy wife Mrs. Proudie and the great Mr. Slope ¿ her slimy, hypocritical, hubris-filled chaplain. Of course, with two such strong-willed personalities, conflict is bound to arise. Romantic troubles plague Eleanor, courted by Slope, poor dandy Bertie Stanhope and Grantly adherent Mr. Arabin. But the plot isn¿t the important thing in a Trollope novel ¿ something he states in one of his comic asides ¿ ¿And what can be the worth of that solicitude which a peep into the third volume can utterly dissipate? What the value of those literary charms which are absolutely destroyed by their enjoyment?¿ The author even goes so far as to inform readers of Eleanor¿s choice in marriage at the beginning. Henry James disliked Trollope¿s asides and his insertion of himself as the narrator, but that¿s one of the best parts, especially to a fan of more-represented-later metafiction (not counting Tristram Shandy). Trollope¿s smooth, comfortable prose and his comic take on mundane matters are what set apart his books. The author describes Slope and Grantly¿s conflict as an epic war, gently mocking the militant stance immediately taken up. Signora Neroni, Bertie¿s sister, provides more overt humor with her excessive love of drama and the fact that she has to be carried everywhere on her sofa. There¿s a psychological depth to his characters, with each minute emotion described. His isn¿t the inner monologues of Virginia Woolf or Henry James¿ texture of consciousness or the clause-laden, exhaustively described, nuanced, run-on prose of Proust or even the complicated erudition of fellow Victorian George Eliot (all of which I like), but solid detailed descriptions that almost hide the skill in constructing them. For example, Mr. Harding¿s ambivalence about Eleanor and Mr. Slope ¿ he almost hates Slope and genuinely hoped the marriage would not go through, but recognized that there was nothing shameful socially in a union. To Grantly, he half-defended his daughter, wanting to believe she¿d never consent to a marriage but trying to say it was appropriate in case it did happen. Similar anguish is endured by Eleanor, the Grantlys and Mr. Arabin as they attempt to talk civilly but avoid the mention of marriage. Trollope is remarkably effective in his sweet and sour thoughts of Eleanor gradually recovering from her husband¿s death"How much kinder is God to us than we are willing to be to ourselves! At the loss of every dear face, at the last going of every well beloved one, we all doom ourselves to an eternity of sorrow, and look to waste ourselves away in an ever-running fountain of tears. How seldom does such grief endure! How blessed is the goodness which forbids it to do so! 'Let me ever remember my living friends, but forget them as soon as they are dead,' was the prayer of a wise man who understood the mercy of God. Few perhaps would have the courage to express such a
Great book, but this epub version is missing 15 chapters of the book....not the one to get...