Victorian Popular Fictions 6.1 6 Khan


Victorian Omniscience and Liberal Politics in Anthony Trollope’s The Warden

Hanna Khan

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Written and published alongside the proliferation of the period’s vaunted but contradictory ideology of mid-century liberalism, this article examines the overlooked aesthetic function of the Trollopean narrator. The narrator’s embodied and character-driven investment in Anthony Trollope’s The Warden  (1855) stands in contrast to the abstracted and impersonal attitudes of the realist novel and to the conflicting principles defined by mid-century liberalism, while commenting on the advent of the daily paper’s commercialism. The narrator’s provincial status enables a socially- informed take on the quaint township of Barchester, with its new reformist politics subsuming the life of the eponymous warden. Moreover, the novel’s satirical register—evident in the narrator’s characterizations of the mid-Victorian press; his review of media giant The Jupiter’s reportage of Barchester; and finally, his spoofing of popular literary culture, most notably the literary reinterpretations of contemporaries Charles Dickens and Thomas Carlyle—evince that Trollope’s solutions to mid-Victorian social and political issues lie less in reformist politics than they do in questions of aesthetics.


Anthony Trollope; realism; satire; aesthetics; ideology; liberalism; narrator; daily newspaper

Date of Acceptance: 23 June 2024

Date of Publication: 28 June 2024

Double Blind Peer Reviewed

Recommended Citation:

Khan, Hanna. 2024. “Victorian Omniscience and Liberal Politics in Anthony Trollope’s The Warden.” Victorian Popular Fictions, 6.1: 72-89. ISSN: 2632-4253 (online) DOI:‌/‌‌10.‌‌46911/HTXU9766 

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