Tuesday – technically I guess I should wait an hour and a half to make this report. I might read more pages before midnight. But perhaps not. I have finished The Warden by Anthony Trollope and while this might not seem like much as I only had 38 pages to go, it took me two months to read the first 99 pages. So this is A Feat. For some reason I finally got into the book at chapter 15 – when he starts making fun of Carlyle and Dickens. And even when he went back to the story, I stayed into it, long enough to finish. I honestly don’t know why it was so difficult for me to read this. Trollope writes well, his characters are sympathetic, he writes even-handedly about both sides of the controversy. His minor characters are nowhere near as engaging as Dickens’ – no Jellybies, no Jos, no Masters of Deportment, but still, it should not have taken so long. I’ve liked other Trollope books in the past and was not expecting it to be Bleak House.
The story, such as it is, is about the Church having too much money and not spending it on the poor, but allowing it to build up in sinecures where the appointees, in this case The Warden, receive hundreds of pounds a year (or more) for doing next to nothing. Taking up the fight is John Bold, would-be firebrand and reformer, but unfortunately for him also in love with the Warden’s daughter. The Warden in the meantime is a nice guy. Not really his fault he gets hundreds of pounds for not doing very much. It’s all part of the system. Things have gotten this way by being in place for hundreds of years and no one fixing them along the way. Then there are the would-be recipients of this particular reform’s success (should it be successful): the twelve old men who now receive a small amount of money, their food, clothing, lodging and care from Hiram’s Hospital. They each think they can get 100 pounds a year if their suit is successful. Why they think 800 divided by 12 is 100 I don’t know. It annoys me throughout the book. The most you can get, you ignorant bedesmen, is 66 2/3 pounds a year if there are zero expenses.
I don’t think either this is a problem with not being able to get into a story whose plot is based on a problem which is no longer relevant. Chancery ceased to exist long ago, and I was still moved by Bleak House. At any rate, in the end, I enjoyed the last 38 pages. And the moral of the story is if you want to reform society, pick a subject that has nothing to do with your girlfriend’s father. There are plenty of problems in the world. Pick a different one.
Total pages read:98
Books finished: The Warden
Other books read: Sense and Sensibility
A lot more read than I expected.