The Readers Review: Literature from 1714 to 1910 discussion

Phineas Redux (Palliser, #4)
This topic is about Phineas Redux
The Trollope Project - Archives > Phineas Redux Aug 19-25: Ch 41-48

Comments Showing 1-18 of 18 (18 new)    post a comment »
dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
I am away for the remainder of August and have difficulty starting new threads from my phone. I will post more at the appropriate time, but feel free to go ahead and start discussing if you are ahead.

message 2: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Aug 19, 2018 11:23AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2199 comments Mod
This section has a variety of topics. We have Gerard Maule's up and down fortunes. We are reunited with Lizzie Eustace and find out what became of her marriage. It's an interesting parallel to Laura and Kennedy. Then we suddenly find ourselves in a murder mystery.

I wasn't thrilled with Planty Pall when we first met him a couple of books ago, but now I have a lot of sympathy for him. He doesn't want to be bothered with marriage dramas or foxhunting dramas.

message 3: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Given that Planty Pall has almost nothing to do (so far) in this book we have never seen him so much as on a horse, NM foxhunting, and for him to give two pence about who marries who is to ask him to be someone else. Come to think on it is he still chasing the ten penny pound?

Redux is as much about The Duke as Eustice was, as in almost not at all.

He is the stick he always was.

message 4: by Lori, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
I almost groaned aloud when Lady Eustace showed up again. I got so tired of her in the last book and didn't really care what happened to her. But I guess her family is a good plot device for when we need troublemakers.

I knew from the book descriptions that Phineas would be accused of murdering someone, but I assumed it would be Mr. Kennedy.

message 5: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments I was also surprised to see Lady Eustace and Mr. Emilius turn up again. But Trollope certainly does weave a tangled web! Interesting plot twist to have Emilius as one of the accused in murdering Bonteen. The evidence we know of so far seems so certainly to point to Phineas, but I can’t believe that he is truly guilty. Doesn’t seem to fit with Trollope’s style. Plus, it would be quite a leap for Phineas to be guilty of such a devious murder- deliberately following Bonteen, retracing his steps and beating him to death from behind. Phineas might be extremely angry, but such an action would require almost temporary insanity.

I’m still disappointed in Glencora and Madame Max not seeing the true character of Lady Eustace- false, manipulative, totally egotistical.
Also disappointing are the disparaging remarks made about Emilius as a Jew. Unfortunately, antisemitism was widespread in England which was reflected in the literature and I know Trollope was antisemitic, but still troubles me in a way that other cultural beliefs/values do not.

message 6: by Lori, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
I found the antisemitic remarks disturbing too.

No, Phineas isn't guilty. It would have been in his character (and his state of mind at the time) to catch up with Bonteen and have a quarrel with him, and it could have turned into a physical fight. But Phineas is not the type to sneak up and brain someone, even when he's angry. Especially not when he's angry.

message 7: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick The second Phineas flashed the cosh, I knew something was up. That scene made zero sense. Completely out of style for Trollope. In that page it was announced that

Someone is going to get coshed and the evidence will all point to Finn.

Maybe the worst writing in the sequence.

message 8: by Robin P, Moderator (last edited Aug 21, 2018 06:04PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Robin P | 2199 comments Mod
I agree that Finn wouldn't attack that way. He did the old-fashioned duel in the other book, and he defended himself with Kennedy, but an ambush isn't his style. He would want to face his enemy and make a speech before he took any action.

It seems to me that Emilius, while unpleasant, was a different character in the previous book. I don't remember a reference to his ancestry or possible bigamy. He reminded me most of Slope from Barchester Towers (still my favorite Trollope).

message 9: by Phrodrick (last edited Aug 21, 2018 06:42PM) (new)

Phrodrick I remember that Emilius was from his first introduction rumored to still be married and to having been Jewish. He has reeked of slime baggery from day one. An oily dishonest and opportunistic Victorian version of the worst of today's TV preachers.

That it was in him to be violent much less murderous is a new and IMHO another out of balance aspect of this book.

Trollope has used the biz of being dark and associated with foreigners, outsiders and Jews.
Elsewhere I have seen references to Trollope being antisemitic.

But Madam Max is also dark and was once married to a Jewish Banker. She was an outsider and through the Duchess she is very inside.

I do not know Trollope's bio that well. Antisemitism was fairly common. Did he had a real hatred, or just follow the form of his day/age/class?

message 10: by Lori, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
I'm not sure of his personal views. This is an excerpt from the first Phineas Finn, when Lady Glencora was worried about the Duke possibly marrying Madame Max:

"She intended also that her little boy, her fair-haired, curly-pated, bold-faced little boy, should be Earl of Silverbridge when the sand of the old man should have run itself out. Heavens, what a blow would it be, should some little wizen-cheeked half-monkey baby, with black brows, and yellow skin, be brought forward and shown to her some day as the heir! What a blow to herself;—and what a blow to all England!"

Sure, he was showing from Lady Glencora's viewpoint that she was angry, and anyway she later befriended Madame Max, but it also seems to imply that someone (himself, Lady Glencora, or society at large?) considered fair children more worthy/noble/whatever than dark children. Or else why mention the child's physical description? It had nothing to do with the story.

message 11: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Agreed that this quote is a tad extreme as it chops into a hypothetical baby. I took that as the then Lady Glencora venting.

A pale, peaches and cream completion was most desired in this era. Among other things it meant a person who never had to work.

Still I take your point.

message 12: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments So, of course, as with everything Trollope and anti semitism is more complicated. His anti semitism was definitely in keeping with the general Victorian view and also one which was displayed in much literature. However, critics point out that Trollope portrayed Jewish characters even more vile than Emilius, but also others who were sympathetically and positively portrayed. At least one writer discussed Trollope's Jewish characters as mirroring/satirizing society’s view- interesting.
Madame Max’s background is obscure. It seems evident her past husband was Jewish, but as to whether she is? Glencora’s comment about the physical attributes of Madame Max’s hypothetical children certainly leads to the conclusion that she may well be Jewish. That makes her position as one of the heroines of the Palliser series evidence for the view that Trollope was not entirely anti semitic. That makes me feel better anyway.

message 13: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1868 comments Mod
This section seems to be trying to advance several threads in our tale, and I found it a bit confusing at times to follow each story. Politically we see that Mr. Bonteen put himself into difficulties with his party and had lost what little popularity he had, and also he and his wife were flattered into supporting Lizzie Eustace. Phineas is struggling to find his place, and has seen is own reputation damaged both by the People’s Banner and by Bonteen’s dislike of him. I look forward to seeing how this tangled tale gets unravelled!

message 14: by LiLi (new) - rated it 4 stars

LiLi | 277 comments I continue to be confused why Madame Max escapes Trollope's obvious and revolting anti-Semitism.

message 15: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick It may be because she was never described to be other than Jewish by marriage.

Or it may be that Trollope was no more Anti-Semitic than was the then norm. That is if pushed to make a public statement, he would have mumbled something like, "Some of my best friends... " meantime taking it as given that his private club was "exclusive".

Benjamin Disraeli was certainly among the models for one or another of his politician. Altho by then BD was not a practicing Jew.
Lionel Nathan Freiherr de Rothschild is generally considered Parliaments first practicing Jew (1847) and there had been a handful of earlier sitting members with some kind of Jewish association, conversion, fore bearer and such. Were Trollope consciously anti-Semitic he would have had several opportunities to embarrass them as part of his version of the House.

The point being that while the reader is advised against making 1 to 1 comparisons with the pols in the book and the pols in the history books, certain flavors of the real people are part of Trollope's books.

No one sitting in Trollope's House of Commons is ever a dark, non-Englishman stranger (allowing of course for Welsh, Scots, Irish and others of the sceptered isles who might take offense at being called an Englishman).

In this I digress. My belief remains that politics are included in these books as filler. I find it hard to believe that the very few pages given to parliamentary politics last long enough to bore a person determined to read over 4000 pages. That so much of the political narration is meant to be funny should give the least perspicacious reader some relief from the heavy plot building around house hold politics.

message 16: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments I agree that politics have seemed to play second fiddle to other themes, with Phineas Redux being the most political so far. However, this is what Trollope had to say in his Autobiography- which I've downloaded in ibooks for free but I'm sure is free elsewhere.
"...Phineas Finn, in which I commenced a series of semi-political tales. As I was debarred from expressing my opinions in the House of Commons, I took this method of declaring myself." He goes on to say that the Speaker of the House gave him a two month seat in the gallery so he could write about parliamentary proceedings with accuracy. He also says, which I think I referred to in a previous post, that he knew he couldn't just make the novels about politics- "If I write politics for my own sake, I must put in love and intrigue, social incidents, with perhaps a dash of sport,for the benefit of my readers. In this way I think I made my political hero interesting." He was happy that men such as those who served with Phineas in Parliament read these novels. Maybe surprisingly, he says that Lady Laura is the best character in both novels about Phineas, but he doesn't detail why.

message 17: by Lori, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1369 comments Mod
Linda wrote: "he says that Lady Laura is the best character in both novels about Phineas, but he doesn't detail why"

His ideal heroine seems to be a martyr.

message 18: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2889 comments Mod
I agree that the scene in which Phineas shows that he has a cosh in his pocket for self defence came out of the blue.
He would not commit a cowardly murder. He was angry with Bonteen but would not sneak up behind him and hit him on the head.
I wonder who did it?
And then there is Lord Fawn's statement---did he actually see anyone?

back to top