May 28th, 2011
It grieves me to say it, but I don’t think I like Anthony Trollope very well. I began The Warden a few days ago, and have so far yawned my way through about two-thirds of the novel. I find the characters insipid and inconsequential, and while his arguments are interesting (I am very fond of church disputes, though prefer the doctrinal over the financial), the satire is ruined by too much cleverness without enough content.
I suppose Trollope’s defenders might argue that his finest barbs are soaring over my head. Or the less dogmatic among them might suggest I chose a poor specimen of his work with which to begin. But I can’t help feeling him to be a sad mix, combining the worst of the maudlin mid-19th century with a crude beginning of the delicate wit that characterizes so many British works of the later 19th and early 20th centuries.
Being nearly incapable of leaving a story half-finished, I suppose I will finish The Warden. Who knows, I may try another of his novels after that, just to be sure of my own feelings. I am generally quite fond of curmudgeons — even those who wear checked trousers.