Saturday, 11 August 2001

Anthony Trollope: Phineas Redux (1873)

Edition: Electronic Text Center, University of Virginia Library; taken from the Oxford Text Archive version, 1994
Review number: 900

The fourth Palliser novel, as its title says, is about Phineas Finn's return to the political scene. Standing once again for parliament takes up the first part of the story, along with the renewal of his acquaintance with the women who played an important part in his early career before his marriage, Lady Laura Kennedy, Madame Goestler and Glencora Palliser, now the Duchess of Omnium.

The second half of the novel rather overshadows this, however. Here, Phineas is accused of the murder of a political rival on circumstantial evidence; it takes the efforts of the three women to unearth the evidence which proves him innocent at the last minute of his sensational trial.

Phineas Redux is clearly from the middle of a series; it would be inconceivable as a stand-alone novel. Its purpose is to contain the further adventures of characters well known to its readers. Its main interest is the depiction of Phineas' mental state while he is in prison awaiting his trial. Phineas Redux does not particularly grab the attention; it is one of Trollope's poorer novels.

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