Sunday, March 11, 2012

Finally Finished with Trollope

A few years ago I was at a conference on character education at Baylor.  Two of the main speakers were Stanley Hauerwas and David Solomon, and I heard both of them say that the best way to educate someone in character development would be to have them read a bunch of Anthony Trollope novels.  Never having read any Trollope, but usually appreciating 19th century literature, I came back and went to the bargain bookstore where I found a bunch of said novels (though I'm not sure the bunch I located was the right bunch...).

I was intrigued with the Barchester series he wrote, because supposedly it was inspired by the the Salisbury Cathedral in England (pictured), which I had visited recently.  It is a massive structure in an otherwise sleepy little town.  The events of the novels are structured around the ecclesial families of the town and the rather complicated relationship with the government.  I read the first book in the series, The Warden, pretty quickly and appreciated the moral dilemma the main character faced.  The other books were much longer, though, and so I put them off until some other time (though my wife read through a couple of shelf feet worth of these).

This past Christmas break I picked up the next one, Barchester Towers, and started in.  It didn't quite grab me, but I plodded on, ignoring Robby Prenkert's advice about reading things you're enchanted by.  There have been quite a few novels I've started and given 50 or 100 pages, and then called it quits because I wasn't enchanted (A Tale of Two Cities comes to mind here).  But this one, I felt I should keep reading because it wasn't just a diversion or entertainment, it was supposed to be character formation.  So, it stayed on my nightstand in the company of several other books that I dip into occasionally.  Well, finally I finished it yesterday, taking it with me to Ft. Wayne for a couple of my son's soccer games.  I'm guessing that the only character formation that happened was some bit of patience or perseverance.  Otherwise I was mostly annoyed with it.  Sorry Hauerwas and Solomon.  I'm on to other more enchanting books.

1 comment:

FarmerLenny said...

I haven't read the novels, but I really liked the BBC miniseries from the '80s based on these books. (It's called Barchester Chronicles and stars Alan Rickman. Also, the guy who plays the Warden would have made an excellent Father Brown, I think.)