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Source: (consider it) Thread: February Book Group - The Warden
Brenda Clough
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So here's a Q: was the hospital bequest really being abused? Whether it arises to the level of a genuine crime is a separate question (that, clearly, even the lawyers in the book were prepared to debate). But was a wrong actually being committed?

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Net Spinster
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
So here's a Q: was the hospital bequest really being abused? Whether it arises to the level of a genuine crime is a separate question (that, clearly, even the lawyers in the book were prepared to debate). But was a wrong actually being committed?

IIRC the letter of the bequest is being followed but the intent is not.

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Trudy Scrumptious

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
So here's a Q: was the hospital bequest really being abused? Whether it arises to the level of a genuine crime is a separate question (that, clearly, even the lawyers in the book were prepared to debate). But was a wrong actually being committed?

Oh, I would say definitely yes. To me it seems like just the sort of abuse that's crying out to be reformed -- but it didn't really get reformed, did it?

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Brenda Clough
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If it was clearly fraudulent, the lawyers (Abraham Haphazard etc.) wouldn't be waffling. So there is plainly space for debate. And the difficulty is hedged behind thickets of legalese dating back to the 14th c., which means it might as well be cuneiform.
In other words, the Archdeacon & co. do have a solid argument. The overarching -intent- of Mr. Hiram is clear. But the setup, the administration, is fuzzy. The twelve old men beyond their work are indeed being supported and cared for. (Who, btw, is actually doing the work maintaining twelve old men? The cooking, the carrying of coal, the cleaning? Mr. Harding isn't; he's playing his cello. Is it Eleanor managing the place? There must be a squadron of women servants back in the kitchen and laundry and scullery, never in view.) The twelve are as they have always been since 14-whatever, comfortable in their twilight years. The increase in the value of the bequest was not specifically directed to them.

A more prudent wording of the bequest would have allowed for the expansion or contracture of the population served. As the money increased, you could get 14, 18, 20 old men; if there was a financial crash you dial it back down to 12. (I assume there are always enough indigent old men to fill the hospital however large it got.) 20-20 hindsight here...

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venbede
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
That alone shows you how much more subtle he was than Dickens. Who always favored painting in black and white.

This threads is about Trollope and Trudy and others have pointed out his considerable virtues. But I can’t let a dismissal of Dickens get by without comment. Yes, he was melodramatic and sentimental. No, he didn’t do inner life. Yes, he is often grotesque (although that is when he is most original and powerful. Trollope only did grotesque in Barchester Towers, which is probably his most amusing book as a result.)

But Dickens had a wonderful, inimitable imagination and creates imaginative worlds which I find make Trollope look conventional and predictable. I’d far rather re-read Dickens.

Incidentally, Trollope’s model and most admired novelist was Thackeray who hasn’t been mentioned here.

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MaryLouise
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Yes, I was thinking 'apples and oranges' when it comes to comparing Dickens and Trollope. Dickens is magnificent as a writer who makes his characters unforgettable archetypes and larger-than-life comic vaudeville or grotesques or villains. Miss Havisham in Great Expectations isn't a finely drawn realist portrait of a disappointed spinster, she is Gothic personified. I've often thought that Dickens is at his best when he writes about children looking at the frightening and strange adults around them who hold the power of life and death over those in their care (Dickens never forgot his time in the blacking factory as a young boy). This isn't to say that Dickens doesn't allow for change and repentance and reform in character development: think of Scrooge.

Trollope is as effective looking at misguided or malevolent characters but they are people you'd expect to meet at the parish council, deluded if well-meaning, chilling but human. Those of don't understand themselves and the harm they do.

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MaryLouise
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Missed edit button. Last sentence should have read: Those who don't understand themselves and the harm they do.

It's a society that doesn't have to think about faith very much, a certain comfortable shared belief is a given. The presence of the Church is solid, enduring, a safeguard. This may be one of Trollope's strengths, to create a world and setting that is so concrete and fixed that any points of instability deserve close attention when set against the status quo. Radical change is unthinkable. The plight of the deserving poor may cause crises of conscience, individual sacrifice or Questions in Parliament, but it won't rock the boat. Darwinism or social revolution may be in the air but that isn't what Trollope wants to do here as a novelist.

The funny sharp insights are private or interior: the tart and dismissive Mrs Grantly who calls her husband 'archdeacon' in bed and raps him over the knuckles with her common sense. Suddenly this domineering character is seen in a tasselled nightcap listening to the counsels of his wife. That wives and daughters see the 'ordinariness' of these great church dignitaries is another irony Trollope likes to exploit.

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“As regards plots I find real life no help at all. Real life seems to have no plots.”

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andras
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Ah, Thackeray! A brilliant writer too often neglected these days, and Becky Sharp is, I think, one of the finest novelists' creations of all time, right up there with Lizzy Bennet.

The plot of The Warden does stem from a real event: the Earl of Guilford was reputed to be taking an incredible £2,000.00 per year as Master of the Hospital of St Cross, Winchester, leading to an investigation by a reformist clergyman. Certainly the Earl's income knocks poor old Septimus Harding's £800.00 into the shade!

I do wonder if it was Dickens' reforming zeal that got up Trollope's nose as much as his caricatures. Our man thought that the world was pretty-much right-way-up as it was, and didn't want to disturb it too much.

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Pigwidgeon

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I just finished The Warden and will take a break before starting on Barchester Towers. But I'm starting a re-watch (third or fourth time through at least) of the BBC series this evening.

(I just re-watched Sense and Sensibility in advance of seeing a stage production next week, but there can never be too much Alan Rickman!)

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Brenda Clough
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Is it the S&S stage production with a great many rolling chairs?

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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Is it the S&S stage production with a great many rolling chairs?

I've heard that everyone's on wheels (???), so I assume so.

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"...that is generally a matter for Pigwidgeon, several other consenting adults, a bottle of cheap Gin and the odd giraffe."
~Tortuf

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Brenda Clough
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On this reread I am impressed with all the funny bits that sneak in. Yes, the archdeacon in bed with his wife. Also the speculation that all bishops lose their ability to whistle once they ascend to that rank.

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MaryLouise
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Trollope has such depth and range of expression. I found some scenes moving, notably the tender affection and friendship of the two older men, the Warden and the Bishop. Neither is a match for Dr Grantly or John Bold, but they are a great comfort to one another.

‘The bishop and Mr Harding loved each other warmly. They had grown old together, and had together spent many, many years in clerical pursuits and clerical conversation.’

On the other hand I wondered about Trollope's reading of the poor old men, the dozen beneficiaries. They are shown with sympathy and pathos at times but in an unsentimental and IMO slightly paternalistic manner. Most of these elderly working-class men are illiterate, damaged by years of heavy drinking, easily swayed by those around them and unable to see beyond the idea of that hundred pounds a year, an unimaginable sum to those receiving one-and-sixpence a day. Trollope assume the reader will agree with him that they are hardly the best judges of what is best for them in this matter. This would have been the common understanding of the servant and labouring classes and their characters are presented as comic and one-dimensional.

"Only think, old Billy Gazy," said Spriggs, who rejoiced in greater youth than his brethren, but having fallen into a fire when drunk, had had one eye burnt out, one cheek burnt through, and one arm nearly burnt off, and who, therefore, in regard to personal appearance, was not the most prepossessing of men, "a hundred a year, and all to spend; only think, old Billy Gazy;" and he gave a hideous grin that showed off his misfortunes to their full extent.

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andras
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Well, a lot of people are easily swayed by the suggestion that they can get a lot of money just by putting a mark on a piece of paper.

A certain misleading promise on the side of a bus comes to mind!

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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by andras:
A certain misleading promise on the side of a bus comes to mind!

What promise? What bus?

[Confused]

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"...that is generally a matter for Pigwidgeon, several other consenting adults, a bottle of cheap Gin and the odd giraffe."
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Jengie jon

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This bus.

Jengie

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Brenda Clough
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Also the condescending attitude about working people, Irish, etc. is easy to find in other literature of the period. It's hard to say whether it's the -characters- in (say) a Collins novel telling us that this or that working person is resolutely stupid, or whether that is the author's opinion. But the notion is far more common than you will find in modern works, and so must have had some currency among the readers.

Charlotte Bronte was half Irish (Rev. Patrick was of Irish working-class stock) and married another Irish clergyman, Rev. Nicholls. So you might hope she would be free of prejudice. Nevertheless when her new husband took her to his home she wrote back to family and friends praising, with naive astonishment, how civilized everyone she met was. The houses of her Nicholls in-laws, furnished in quite a decent style, OMG.

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andras
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
Also the condescending attitude about working people, Irish, etc. is easy to find in other literature of the period. It's hard to say whether it's the -characters- in (say) a Collins novel telling us that this or that working person is resolutely stupid, or whether that is the author's opinion. But the notion is far more common than you will find in modern works, and so must have had some currency among the readers.

Charlotte Bronte was half Irish (Rev. Patrick was of Irish working-class stock) and married another Irish clergyman, Rev. Nicholls. So you might hope she would be free of prejudice. Nevertheless when her new husband took her to his home she wrote back to family and friends praising, with naive astonishment, how civilized everyone she met was. The houses of her Nicholls in-laws, furnished in quite a decent style, OMG.

Those attitudes persist to the present day, though most middle-class people are polite enough not to let their views show too much.

It's so well-known that the Scots are grasping penny-pinchers, the Irish are untrustworthy bog-dwellers and the Welsh spend all their time digging for coal and singing - with a side-order of meanness - that no novelist needs to actually say so any more.

When someone does stick their head above the parapet and say out loud what they really think, there's an immediate media storm; not because those views are not surprisingly widely held, but because it's rude to express them.

The columnist A A Gill was famous for this sort of thing. In 1988 he declared that the Welsh were loquacious, dissemblers, immoral liars, stunted, bigoted, dark, ugly, pugnacious little trolls. The Commission for Racial Equality didn't see any cause to censure him.

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Adrian Plass

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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by Jengie jon:
This bus.

Jengie

Thanks for the link. For some strange reason I haven't seen that on the streets of Phoenix, Arizona.
[Biased]

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~Tortuf

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aliehs
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Can any body join?


Guess it's not worthwhile till the new book is specified for March

Since the thread is called the February Book Club. does it automatically change to the March Book Club, or remain as February?
For what it is worth, I read The Warden years ago and remember it as an exercise in the niceties of administration of almshouses, which is not so different today in aged care facilities.

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Pigwidgeon

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quote:
Originally posted by aliehs:
Can any body join?


Guess it's not worthwhile till the new book is specified for March

Since the thread is called the February Book Club. does it automatically change to the March Book Club, or remain as February?
For what it is worth, I read The Warden years ago and remember it as an exercise in the niceties of administration of almshouses, which is not so different today in aged care facilities.

There will be a new book in March, and a new thread -- on the new Ship.

The Warden really had nothing to do with "niceties of administration of almshouses." It's worth a re-read. Fascinating characters, who evolve over the series. I just finished it a few days ago (I last read it in the 90's), and then one must go on to the rest of the Barchester Chronicles. To get a feel for the first two books, I highly recommend the BBC Mini-Series.

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"...that is generally a matter for Pigwidgeon, several other consenting adults, a bottle of cheap Gin and the odd giraffe."
~Tortuf

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andras
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quote:
Originally posted by aliehs:
Can any body join?


Guess it's not worthwhile till the new book is specified for March

Since the thread is called the February Book Club. does it automatically change to the March Book Club, or remain as February?
For what it is worth, I read The Warden years ago and remember it as an exercise in the niceties of administration of almshouses, which is not so different today in aged care facilities.

The thread will stay open - under the same name - for as long as anybody wants to post to it or until the Second Coming, whichever is sooner; and everyone on God's good Earth is welcome to pile in and add their thoughts, comments, complaints and general musings.

There'll be a new thread in March, the book being I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and the discussion will be led by Nenya. It's a wonderful read, so either pile in to this thread now or beg, borrow or steal a copy of the March book! Or both!

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Adrian Plass

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Sarasa
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Aliehs - Have a look at this thread which is the Ship's Book group thread for the whole of 2018. Feel free to add any suggestions. If you'd like to know more PM me.
http://forum.ship-of-fools.com/cgi-bin/ultimatebb.cgi?ubb=get_topic;f=1;t=012969
I guess I'll have to start a new thread when we paddle across to the new vessel?

I've really enjoyed this discussion about The Warden. What struck me was how modern the dilemma was, I can imagine the press having a field day in a similar situation now.

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Brenda Clough
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I must say I would like to read The Almshouse by the Dickens of the novel. Trollope has a good time sticking pins into the other figures of the day. Did you see how the three sons of the Archdeacon are named after noted clergymen of the period? I only discovered this by looking at the footnotes at the back of my edition of the novel.

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andras
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
I must say I would like to read The Almshouse by the Dickens of the novel. Trollope has a good time sticking pins into the other figures of the day. Did you see how the three sons of the Archdeacon are named after noted clergymen of the period? I only discovered this by looking at the footnotes at the back of my edition of the novel.

And Samuel is known to all as Soapy - the allusion would have been very obvious to Trollope's contemporary readers, but I'm a little surprised that it got past the publisher's reader.

(Little Soapy disappears after the first novel in the series; perhaps we're to assume that he's gone to his heavenly reward? Or is it a case of amnesia auctoris?)

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God's on holiday.
(Why borrow a cat?)
Adrian Plass

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Sarasa
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I got the 'Soapy' Sam allusion, though know I know very little about Samuel Wilberforce. It sounds like Trollope was enjoying himself with the decriptions of the Archdeacon's sons.
I think I could have done with an annotated edition, there were a few sayings that didn't make a lot of sense, something about 'Beverley out the window'?, I can't find it now to get the exact quote.

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Brenda Clough
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Hang on, I'll repeat what I derived from my footnoted edition when I get my hands on it. (I'm at work, no novels allowed here.)

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Brenda Clough
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OK, here we go.
Charles James, Henry, and Samuel. based on three prominent bishops: Charles Jams Blomfield, bishop of London from 1818 to 1856, HEnry Phillpotts, the bishop of Exeter from 1830 to 1869, and Samuel Wilberforce, Bishop of Oxford from 1845 to 1869. Notice in the novel that although Sammy talks so soft and sweet he does put a switch under the horses tail to see if it can be persuaded to kick.

Lydian revers to Lydia Languish in Sheridan's play The Rivals (1775), who prefers elopement to ordinary marriage. To woo her the rich heir Captain Absolute has to assume the identity of a penniless Ensign Beverly.

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Sarasa
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Thanks for the explanation about Lydia and Beverley, I should have looked it up when I was reading the book. I do like annotated editions, you learn such a lot.

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'I guess things didn't go so well tonight, but I'm trying. Lord, I'm trying.' Charlie (Harvey Keitel) in Mean Streets.

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Marama
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quote:
Originally posted by Brenda Clough:
So here's a Q: was the hospital bequest really being abused? Whether it arises to the level of a genuine crime is a separate question (that, clearly, even the lawyers in the book were prepared to debate). But was a wrong actually being committed?

There's no crime being committed, but yes, quite probably the bequest is being abused. It's difficult to see what the right answer is - probably the spirit of the bequest would see a new second almshouse built and another group of old men (and possibly women) being helped - but legally that's not possible. There seems little evidence of any lack of care, though the question of who is actually doing the hard work isn't answered - perhaps more should be spent there. In reality it's hard to see how more cash in hand would help the old men, but it shouldn't be going in to the Warden's pocket either.
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Marama
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quote:
Originally posted by Sarasa:


I've really enjoyed this discussion about The Warden. What struck me was how modern the dilemma was, I can imagine the press having a field day in a similar situation now.

Yes indeed. Not sure if they could come up with a good answer though, given the constraints of the original will.
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andras
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It's a bit of a spoiler for Barchester Towers but in the end Parliament steps in and effectively rewrites the will.

The consequence of that, coupled with the arrival in Barchester of a new Low Church Bishop and his chaplain (and the Bishop's ghastly wife!) drive much of the action of the book. It's a good read - how about we do it next year?

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God's on holiday.
(Why borrow a cat?)
Adrian Plass

Posts: 544 | From: Tregaron | Registered: Dec 2001  |  IP: Logged
Pigwidgeon

Ship's Owl
# 10192

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quote:
Originally posted by andras:
It's a bit of a spoiler for Barchester Towers but in the end Parliament steps in and effectively rewrites the will.

The consequence of that, coupled with the arrival in Barchester of a new Low Church Bishop and his chaplain (and the Bishop's ghastly wife!) drive much of the action of the book. It's a good read - how about we do it next year?

The Bishop's chaplain is also ghastly, and I shall always picture him as played by Alan Rickman.

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"...that is generally a matter for Pigwidgeon, several other consenting adults, a bottle of cheap Gin and the odd giraffe."
~Tortuf

Posts: 9835 | From: Hogwarts | Registered: Aug 2005  |  IP: Logged
Brenda Clough
Shipmate
# 18061

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I did wonder what happened to the Hospital at the end of this book. The warden's house is neglected, the beadesmen are sad. What is happening to the money that used to be Harding's? Is it being kept by the bishopric? It is clearly not being used for the twelve old men, nor to keep up the property.

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Science fiction and fantasy writer with a Patreon page

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