So what am I reading? Well, re-reading both The Warden with the middle kiddoes and Pride and Prejudice with the biggles, and I'm reading for the first time Nicholas Nickleby and enjoying it!
Although my enjoyment is a bit ironic - the intro to The Warden pointed out that Trollope didn't like Dickens' work. Dickens' characters are mostly one-dimensional, either black or white, good or evil (at least according to the author of the Introduction; I haven't read enough Dickens to know for sure, but I am seeing this in Nicholas Nickleby and remember not liking The Pickwick Papers because of the cartoonish characters; although Sidney Carton comes to mind as an argument that Dickens could write more fully-orbed characters when he wanted to). Trollope's characters, on the other hand, are much more nuanced and fully realized, a mixture of virtue, vice, and absurdity, as are we all. Even though I'm enjoying Nicholas Nickleby, I'm finding it doesn't demand much thought or character analysis. The characters are pretty much as presented - all sneering vice or blushing virtue. I'm not as drawn into this story as I am when I read Trollope. And although I'm enjoying NN and want to read more of Dickens (best in small doses), I think I like Trollope better. I find I learn more about human nature from Trollope, about beings made in God's image, yet subject to the fall and the pervasive presence of sin and selfishness. There really isn't a villain in The Warden. Everyone does what he thinks is best, even though some are mistaken in their understanding of the results of their actions.
And all this reminds me of Gene Edward Veith's workshop on the humours at CiRCE in July. I'm almost ready to get my notes out and start blogging through them.