Thursday, February 11, 2010
Phineas Redux is getting juicy now, nearly 300 pages in. I am struck by how relevant Trollope is -- really. Early on the novel is rough going, since it is mostly about internecine battles between two political parties (nothing like our political system). Oh, and there is a corrupt press, partisan in the extreme (Mr. Quintus Slide, editor of The People's Banner, has conveniently switched political allegiance). A mad, bad husband writes a libelous letter, the publication of which he hopes will force his estranged wife to return to him. The newspaper editor, Slide, claims a moral imperative (something like that of the esteemed National Enquirer) which necessitates public probing into the private lives of the privileged few. Trollope shows a compassionate awareness of the unfair tyranny of bad husbands over unhappy wives. In related subplots, the deliciously named Duke of Omnium is at death's door, his beloved Madame Max Goesler attends the Duke, and an unscrupulous suitor eyes Madame Max.