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The Prime Minister (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – June 4, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

Review

Novel by Anthony Trollope, published serially during 1875 and 1876 and in book form in 1876. Considered by modern critics to represent the apex of the PALLISER NOVELS, it is the fifth in the series and sustains two plot lines. One records the clash between the Duke of Omnium, now prime minister of a coalition government, and his high-spirited wife, Lady Glencora, whose drive to become the most brilliant hostess in society causes embarrassment for her husband and eventually contributes to his downfall. The second plot relates the machinations of Ferdinand Lopez, an ambitious social climber who wins the support of Lady Glencora--but not her husband--for an election campaign. The novel brilliantly dissects the politics of both marriage and government. -- The Merriam-Webster Encyclopedia of Literature --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author


Nicholas Shrimpton is Emeritus Fellow of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University.
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Product Details

  • Series: Oxford World's Classics
  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (June 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199587191
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199587193
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 1.3 x 5.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #201,775 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Anyone who is interested in Victorian history and British politics will find the novel a pure delight.
Leonard L. Wilson
Emily gives up a good life to become the wife of the bounder Mr. Ferdinand Lopez. b. Ferdinand Lopez is the father of a Portuguese father and a British mother.
C. M Mills
The simplicity of the structure allows Trollope to do what he does best -- planning, rather than plotting, vivid scenes of intensity and character collision.
mulcahey

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

42 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Leonard L. Wilson on August 6, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When Plantagenet Palliser (Duke of Omnium) is named Prime Minister, his wife, the Duchess Glencora, is delighted. Immediately she plunges into politics herself, giving huge parties intended to support the Duke, who is completely honorable, but unfortunately detached and reserved, seeming at times icy to those whose political backing is needed. Glencora, one of Trollope's most delightful creations, has a sparkling personality, but is occasionally too outspoken and is sometimes misunderstood. Eventually her well-intended machinations result in embarrassment for the Duke's ministry.

In the other main plot, Emily Wharton ignores the advice of her father and almost all her friends when she falls in love with Ferdinand Lopez, about whom very little is known except that he seems to be a wealthy gentleman. Finally she persuades her father to give his permission for her marriage. Very quickly she discovers that she has made a horrendous mistake, and her life becomes a living hell. Only one of her old friends remains true--Arthur Fletcher, who vows that he will always love no one but her.

Anyone who is interested in Victorian history and British politics will find the novel a pure delight. Others may find it slow going and mystifying in spots, although no such knowledge or interest is needed for the Emily-Lopez plot. Lopez is one of the most despicable villains in all of Trollope's fiction, ranking with George Vavasor of "Can You Forgive Her?" Emily, on the other hand, sometimes becomes tiresome in her queer, fastidious obstinacy.

The character of Plantagenet Palliser is finely drawn. He is a man who is scrupulously honest, too much so for partisan politics. He is a natural leader and yet a thin-skinned, conscientious man who takes any criticism to heart.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By mulcahey on July 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
A reader of the Palliser novels will find THE PRIME MINISTER supremely satisfying, a splendid reward for the intermittent longueurs and annoyances of the previous four books. It's a little like climbing a mountain: only when you get to the top can you see where you are and be sure it was worth the trouble to get there. Trollope is working on a very broad canvas, and here we finally see the fruition of the Pallisers' marriage and of Plantagenet's political toils, if not ambitions, all rendered with sensitivity and truthfulness.
But this, the chief interest of the novel for me, is doomed to feel weirdly flat and over-detailed to a reader who comes to THE PRIME MINISTER cold. Phineas and Marie, Lord Cantrip, Mr Monk, Gatherum and the Duke of St Bungay will seem only ciphers to readers knowing nothing of their histories, and they may even think the Pallisers themselves unworthy of the attention devoted to them. For them the chief interest of the novel will be the Lopez-Wharton plot, which has plenty of dazzle and drive to sustain it -- but when Lopez is dispatched they may find themselves frustrated and at sea, with a book in their hands that is no longer the book they thought they were reading. Emily Lopez thereafter is not good company, perhaps not a false creation so much as one we see about 30 pages too much of.
The technical presentation of the novel is very fine. Trollope loves characters and situations, those are where his genius is most on display, and sometimes seems to regard plot as a necessary evil. Too often, elsewhere, he commits himself to subplots that canot really engage his interest, seemingly for no better reason than that is how novel-writing was supposed to be done.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Mark Silcox on July 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
This book seemed to me to represent a return to form after the previous two rather plodding entries in the Palliser Saga. Trollope's depiction of relations between the intensely private Plantagenet and the injudiciously extrovert Glencora is a dead-on accurate portrait of middle-class marriage, and the fact that P. is made prime minister gives Trollope the chance to show interaction between the personal and political spheres in a way that I found absolutely fascinating.
The most intriguing part of the book, though, are the sections that deal with Ferdinand Lopez, a Jewish "outsider" to upper class London society, toward whom Trollope seems to have had a fascinatingly unsettled and ambivalent attitude. Is he a tragic figure whose relatively small-scale vices only bring about his downfall because he is trying to gain entry into a self-enclosed world of unearned privilege, or is he really the unscrupulous "adventurer" that the other characters all regard him as being? The fact that the author himself never really seems to have made up his own mind on this topic is perhaps a weakness in some sense, but it shows that Trollope was able to retain at least some of his intellectual honesty as the curious, inquisitive liberalism of his youth began to give way to the slightly paranoid toryism of his old age.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By H. Schneider on October 23, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Before politicians are admitted to new offices, few of them would not announce that they want to clean the stables. In practice, things go differently. We see this all the time.

Why do I read Trollope? Simply because he is there; or rather, more specifically, I found the Penguin edition of the `Prime Minister' in the `still to be read' section of my shelf. I took it on a trip. It is an amusing way to spend time. Who reads Trollope? People with lots of time, I would guess. People who are not in a rush, who enjoy the chuckle and the insight, and who find the mysteries of the English caste system and legal structure worth a few or more hours. And those who think that British politics are hilarious.

`It is easy for most of us to stay away from stealing and picking, as long as the clear consequence is prison diet and garments. But when silks and satins come of it, the net result of honesty does not seem so secure.' Right, isn't it?

Of course, this book is not about Gordon Brown; it is about Plantagenet Palliser of the Palliser clan, aka the Duke of Omnium, and of the novel series about the Pallisers. The Duke has made it to the position of prime minister, but not all aristocrats look at this achievement with much respect. It is more like a disturbance in a life. This is the 5th of 6 volumes, and I have no idea why I bought it, back in the 90s. Shouldn't I have started with number 1 of the series? It seems that is not strictly necessary for enjoyment. (The product page here says that this is the best of the six.)

Trollope was a masterful observer of people from certain social strata. His knowledge did not, it seems, encompass the whole width of society, but stayed with `society'. That doesn't make him a snob; it just makes him honestly incomplete.
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