The Warden, a short novel, is like a musical theme played on a solo instrument -- a violoncello -- at the beginning of a concerto. ... No one hearing the theme for the first time has any notion of the variations and developments, the changes in mood, place, and dynamics, or the complexity of texture that will come with the complete orchestral work. As Anthony Trollope himself later understood, Barchester Towers would hardly be so well known as it is had there been no Framley Parsonage and no Last Chronicle of Barset.'
Each novel in the Barchester sequence, like each glimpse of a familiar Barsetshire personage in novels outside the sequence, adds to the meaning of what has gone before. In life outside books we know some friends, or enemies, intimately for a while, and then the ways part. We hear about them, with sudden intense curiosity, or see them unexpectedly -- older, and changed -- years later.
It is like that in the world of Trollope's fiction. People who will be central to the parliamentary sequence or in other later novels are first glimpsed, their significance unrecognised (even, sometimes, by their creator) in the Barchester novels. It is not the chronicles of Barset that make up a great concerto, it is his work as a monumental whole.
[But] In 1855 [when The Warden was published], no one knew that this was how it would be. ...
But this is my idea of heaven, reading-wise, and after reading this, my plan to read and re-read all of the Barsetshire novels this year has just turned into a longing to read and re-read them, together and all in a row, just to feel this happening. :)
I'm so happy to see that others in our reading circle are also planning to read some Trollope this year, and I'm looking forward to hearing about it. If anyone is interested to reading along with me, somewhere along the way, of course I would love that too.