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The second novel in Trollope's Palliser series, Phineas Finn's engaging plot embraces matters as diverse as reform, the position of women, the Irish question, and the conflict between integrity and ambition. Through the engaging figure of the handsome Irishman Phineas Finn, Trollope explores the realities of political life, and the clash between compromise and conviction, that is as topical today as it was in the 1860s. In his introduction, Simon Dentith looks at the British political context and the interwoven strands of politics, the rights of women, and their struggle for equality in marriage. He also considers the novel's interesting publishing history and Trollope's own parliamentary ambitions. One appendix outlines the internal chronology of the series, providing a unique understanding of the six novels as a linked narrative, and a second appendix describes the passage of the second Reform Act of 1867, a controversial measure that extended the franchise and was the subject of heated Conservative and Liberal debate. In addition, there is a biography of Trollope and a chronology of his life as well as extensive notes.
Simon Dentith is Professor of English at the University of Reading.