Saturday, August 20, 2011

A Good Man

I recently read a column in the National Post by Barbara Amiel in which she mentioned Septimus Harding in passing. He is one of my favorite characters in fiction and a subject that figures large in Anthony Trollope's novel, Barchester Towers. He is a prime example of the ordinary as truly extraordinary. In the BBC film production, a paragraph is placed as a eulogy provided in an after a dinner toast by his son in law, Dr Grantly, the archdeacon; but in the book it is Trollope's concluding narrative paragraph. Clearly of great importance to Trollope. Here goes: "The author now leaves him (Harding), in the hands of his readers: not as a hero, not as a man to be admired and talked of, not as a man who should be toasted at public dinners and spoken of with conventional absurdity as a perfect divine, but as a good man without guile, believing humbly in the religion which he has striven to teach, and guided by the precepts which he has striven to learn." One can clearly see why the BBC wanted to place this wonderful narrative as dialogue. The place in this life of the Septimus Hardings of this world is so obscured by the lurid and extravagant that we cannot see them through the haze. When a master like Trollope brings them to life, we are humbled by their majesty!

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