The Warden - Anthony Trollope
This was written in 1855, Trollope's first successful novel. It was highly topical at the time, when there was uproar about excessive wealth of the clergy, and the vulture press and their muck-raking reports. The Jupiter publication made mincemeat of a kindly warden of a hostel for old men, whose conscience tore him apart when it was said he was overpaid. The story was based on a real-life case where a legacy provided for the needs of retired men. This legacy increased in value but the allowance for the men stayed the same, the extra money being raked off by the warden. Trollope's fictional warden didn't want to fight the case. He felt that regardless of who might win, he could not continue in a role that could be morally repugnant. Trollope writes tongue in cheek, using gentle humour to make his point. Dickens was writing at the same time, and he too was targeted as Mr. Popular Sentiment. These general themes are timeless - duty, conscience, wealth, poverty, entitlement, and decisions to be made when there is no right answer.
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