I can recall a meeting with an old professor, a former judge who'd later served as dean of a law school. He had white hair and a long view and was the sort of person you'd think of if you thought of a lawyer who had high ethics. Near the beginning of our meeting he mentioned that he'd recently finished reading all of Anthony Trollope's novels.
I had not read a one.
Later on, with the old man's words in mind, I read "Barchester Towers" and was pleasantly surprised at its humor. It also has a grand villain named Obediah Slope. [Trollope has shades of Dickens.] In a televised version of the novel, Obediah was played by Alan Rickman. Good choice.
After that, I read "The Warden" and still regard it as an unusual and insightful look at an honest man who becomes the target of an ethics case. Then came "The Way We Live Now" which could have been written in the wake of the Wall Street scandals and "Phineas Finn" which delves into ambition and politics.
I'm now reading "The Last Chronicle of Barset" - another novel surrounding law and ethics - and enjoying its slow unfolding of a scandal. Trollope knew the strange relationship between people and institutions.
As you can see, I haven't approached his work as methodically as my old professor but if you are interested in the big issues of life, don't overlook Anthony Trollope. He is too good to miss.
[Photo by Napoleon Sarony]