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Phineas Redux (Palliser, #4)
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The Trollope Project - Archives > Phineas Redux Sep 2-8: Ch 57-64

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message 1: by Frances, Moderator (last edited Sep 04, 2018 02:58AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1928 comments Mod
This section brings us into the trial, and gives, in my opinion, quite a thrilling account of these proceedings. While I have often found Trollope's details of Parliament somewhat tedious ( and confess to, on occasion, skimming through them quickly), I did find this section quite a compelling and enjoyable read.

Poor Lord Fawn-again I felt sorry for him, despite his being the principal cause of Phineas being arrested and charged in the first place. What do you think of his conduct before and during the trial?

What do you think of Mr Chaffenbrass?

Any other witnesses or spectators that you particularly enjoyed reading about, or disliked?

Please post your thoughts here on this section.


message 2: by Lori, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1435 comments Mod
I agree, the courtroom scenes were excellent. Chaffenbrass was brilliant, especially in the way he questioned the novelist.

Lord Fawn seems to get himself on the wrong side of everything. But he's such a ridiculous snob that I can't really feel sorry for him. He comes from such a nice family, but I guess they doted on him too much.


message 3: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick We do understand that PFs lawyer is being played for laughs right?
The name is a clue, if not the ultimate one.
More background on the man.
https://trollopesociety.org/character...


message 4: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments That description of Chaffanbrass makes me think of Peter Falk’s Columbo television detective of a few decades ago. His physical appearance and manners were at odds with the perceptive workings of his mind in dealing with the evidence.


message 5: by Frances, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Frances (francesab) | 1928 comments Mod
I particularly enjoyed the wig being moved about on his head, and his daughter needing to come and support him home, where he slept straight through until 30 minutes before he was to appear in court the next day.


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

Frances (francesab) | 1928 comments Mod
Phrodrick wrote: "We do understand that PFs lawyer is being played for laughs right?
The name is a clue, if not the ultimate one.
More background on the man.
https://trollopesociety.org/character..."


Yes, we do!


message 7: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments I am finding Chaffanbrass’s maneuvering of witnesses enjoyable. Although the reality that acquittal or death is not based on finding the truth, but on how successful one is in manipulating the evidence and witnesses is disturbing.

While in the past I have sometimes been skeptical of the depth of Phineas’s feelings, this ordeal has no doubt impacted him to his core. His disappointment that people he thought knew him and thought well of him could doubt his innocence has truly devastated him.

Hurray for Madame Max. A book on Trollope’s independent women- He Knew She Was Right- called her the first female detective in fiction. Her masculine qualities of assertiveness, independence, courage and a desire to do meaningful work aren’t demeaned as they might be in earlier Trollope novels, but held up as a model of new possibilities for women.


LiLi | 281 comments I'm impressed by Chaffanbrass's capacity to drink large quantities of port! Loaded up on booze, opiates, and cocaine seems to have been the Victorian way. :)

Hurray, indeed, for Madame Max. Everyone else was too lazy to bother to do the legwork.


Brian E Reynolds | 754 comments I've read this before and seen the TV series but I still found this section so compelling I read it all in one sitting.
I am a lawyer and I thought Trollope had a good handle on describing the legal thinking in the case. It felt realistic. A few times when I thought a character might be incorrectly assessing a strategy, another character would vocalize my assessment.
And I too am impressed by Chaffy's thinking while imbibing abilities - a Rumpole.


message 10: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Brian wrote: "I've read this before and seen the TV series but I still found this section so compelling I read it all in one sitting.
I am a lawyer and I thought Trollope had a good handle on describing the leg..."


FYI Mortimer has a NYT (?) write up where he states that Chaffanbrass was a literary fore bearer of Rumpoles's. Perhaps the capacity for "Chateau Thames Embankment" is heritable.

Speaking of trained Lawyers. Up until this book I had counted myself a Phineas Finn supporter. None of his faults, excepting his susceptibility to the ladies ever struck me as all that faulty. Even the mobility of affections was executed with some degree of honor. No back room meetings and no public courting of more than one at a time.

Here I found him aggravating.
He is trained in the law and yet never seems to recognize how strong the is case against him. Granting that he has only his knowledge of his innocence to keep him relatively sane, but he never accepts that anyone knowing the totality of the evidence might at least harbor suspicions.

Again I protest that the out of no where flourishing of the 'life preserver' was bad writing to force a plot point.

The book begins with Finn recognizing that his London friends all disappeared once he was out of office. None of them could be counted as true. Suddenly he wants to use his trial as some kind of absolutist test on these same people. They must not only express and act in solidarity with him, they must somehow prove that in their hearts they reject the case against him.

He wants to be believed, a very human need given his situation. But his bitterness is about the fact that others, my only believe him mostly. He wants to demand no room for doubt.

Trollope for some reason wants this character to be unfairly judging other, and the result is that I made a cross the board reassessment of my feelings towards Phinneas Finn.


Brian E Reynolds | 754 comments I agree that Finn clearly has faults and the trial shows them. First, as Phrod points out, he exhibits lousy legal instincts which, in looking at it positively, does serve to validate his decision to pursue a career in government rather than law. Second, he does seem to require Blind Faith from his adherents. This second fault derives a bit from his first fault, as it's hard for him to understand what he is unable to see. Overall, he is still an appealing character to me, though.


message 12: by Lori, Moderator (last edited Sep 11, 2018 08:53AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Lori Goshert (lori_laleh) | 1435 comments Mod
I don't know. I think, in his place, I'd feel exactly the same way. If something like that ever happened to me, I'd hope my friends would know I was incapable of committing that kind of crime, whatever the evidence may look like. This is planned murder we're talking about, not just someone ending up dead after a fight. Of course, I wouldn't expect the police to believe me, but if my friends didn't believe me, I think I'd feel the same way Phineas did. I hope he finds it in his heart to forgive them and move on after this is all over, though.


message 13: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Brian wrote: "I agree that Finn clearly has faults and the trial shows them. First, as Phrod points out, he exhibits lousy legal instincts which, in looking at it positively, does serve to validate his decision ..."

Brian,

Thanks for the better statement of Finn's limits. I still like the character, I am just that much less inclined in his favor.


message 14: by Brian E (last edited Sep 11, 2018 09:37AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian E Reynolds | 754 comments Lori, you're right about what people expect from their friends, but I was expecting Finn, as a trained lawyer, and someone with some empathetic abilities, to be able to make a better objective assessment of his situation and what to expect from his government associates. Yes, his social, women and non-government friends, like his landlords, can have blind faith, but he should expect professional friends like Monk and Low to not be able to be so blind to other factors. Trollope as narrator objectively assesses the attitudes of the professional friends but does not to have Finn do so.


message 15: by Linda (new)

Linda | 207 comments Brian wrote: "Lori, you're right about what people expect from their friends, but I was expecting Finn, as a trained lawyer, and someone with some empathetic abilities, to be able to make a better objective asse..."

I think that facing almost certain death for a crime he didn't commit has Phineas unable to think rationally or objectively. Trollope describes his extremely deteriorating physical and mental condition in jail. I've found many faults in Phineas along the way, but in this instance I do empathize.


message 16: by Brian E (last edited Sep 11, 2018 12:15PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brian E Reynolds | 754 comments Linda and Lori are more objective in understanding Finn's non-objectivity than I am, as a lawyer assessing another lawyer. But then, Phrodrick would be too. More about this comes in the next section, as I am seeing.

One other thing from this section. I found it interesting when Chaffy examined the witness on the French skill in novel plots. As an American looking up to the British Victorian novelists, I hadn't expected that the British might consider the French to have more expertise, though with Hugo, Dumas, Stendhal, Balzac and Flaubert, it shouldn't surprise me. As I've said before, though, I'm easily surprised.


Bonnie | 243 comments Phrodrick wrote: "We do understand that PFs lawyer is being played for laughs right?
The name is a clue, if not the ultimate one.
More background on the man.
https://trollopesociety.org/character..."


What does the name mean?


message 18: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick This is just not a typical Trollope name. It looks and reads out of place, except that when Trollope wants to paint a caricature quickly, he will use names like this one.


message 19: by Phrodrick (new)

Phrodrick Possibly meaning "one strength" derived from Irish óen "one" and gus "force, strength, energy". Aonghus (sometimes surnamed Mac Og meaning "young son") was the Irish god of love and youth. The name was also borne by an 8th-century Pictish king and several Irish kings. more...
Behind the Name: Meaning of Names, Baby Name Meanings
https://www.behindthename.com/


message 20: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new) - rated it 4 stars

Rosemarie | 2939 comments Mod
This section has been very exciting.
Phineas feels frustrated that people like Mr. Monk would even consider the possibility that he could commit such a murder. He must be depressed, scared and not thinking clearly. It stated that he couldn't concentrate on reading anything. His mind must be in a whirl.
Hooray for Madame Max! She is a woman of action.


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