Dear friends and readers,
I’ve returned to my study of the Palliser films in more earnest than I have done since last November. My first goal is nearly fulfilled: to understand this series for real — by which I mean I have really gone beyond sheer impressionism and can support all I say by concrete detail.
Here now is a newly revised thumbnail outline of the whole series, aligning each part to the particular novel and identifying the particular characters and stories in each. The major stills of this blog all come from an elegiac endpoint at the close or a climax of the major stories: Lady Glen and Madame Max now Duchess and Mrs Finn; Duchess and Duke, Phineas and Marie Finn; Phineas’s speech defending the Duke. The minor (so to speak) story stills are in media res moments: an election-campaign scene (George Vavasour’s money sluiced); the wrenching away of Frank from Mabel; the unkind mockery of Lord Fawn.
Major Story 1: 1:1-3:6: Small House at Allington (a few chapters) and Can You Forgive Her?, begin Phineas Finn; the Plantagenet, Lady Glen & Burgo Fitzgerald story overriding arch
1:2 to 3:5 is the George/Alice/Kate Vavasour story; Vavasour story set adrift in 3:6 (CYFH?);
3:6 transitional from Plantagenet and Lady Glen story to Phineas matter (CYFH? combines with Phineas Finn)
Major Story 2: 4:7 to 6:12: Phineas Finn, or the first part of the Phineas matter, the overriding arch story, with the Brentford family, Lady Laura & Kennedy, Violet and Chiltern matter a subsidiary parallel; the story does not exist apart from Phineas’s; Madame Max is a linchpin combining the Lady Glen/Plantagenet/Palliser matter with Phineas’s story) (PF)
Like 3:6, 6:12 is transitional: begins The Eustace Diamonds; we have the end of the Phineas/Lady Laura matter (PF) and beginning of Lizzie Eustace/Fawn in earnest (ED); 7:13: the Lizzie Eustace and her suitors and hangers-on story (what’s left of ED after much chopping and alteration; no Lucy Morris, no Lady Fawn, no Lucinda Roanoke) (so ED); 7:14: transitional: it carries on as Lizzie’s story but also has Mary’s death early & by its end we are in the thick of Phineas’s story once again (ED and Phineas Redux)
Major Story 2 continues: 8:15-9:19: Phineas Redux, begin The Prime Minister; Phineas story second phase, with the death of the old Duke, destruction of Lady Laura, Madame Max’s rescue of him and their marriage, Chiltern supports Phineas, Palliser & his other allies stands aside; in 8:16 first episode of clash of Duke with his two sons (PR, some anticipation of PM (especially Palliser romance, children and parents’ interaction which is newly invented pre-DC material). The two major stories are intertwined but here it’s the second that is emphasized.
8:16-9:18: Adelaide-Gerard Maule love story, Fawn a second suitor. If not the shortest inset story (if one regards Lord George de Bruce Caruthers and Jane Carbuncle as a separate story, theirs is as short), it’s striking for the one story where closure occurs off stage. The last we see of them Adelaide is in tears, and Gerard has marched off after insulting her. Onstage we are shown the Duke giving in to giving them Madame Max’s legacy, but they themselves are dismissed. Do the short stories undercut the complacency of the Palliser story? No. They are variants on it.
Major Story 1, second phase, with grown children and death of protagonist: 9:19-12:24: The Prime Minister; begins the long trajectory of the later years of Palliser story in the political arena as seen mostly from the domestic or private point of view (PR still and now PM much changed). Phineas matter is still here in the form of Marie Finn’s friendship for the Duchess, her role as a chorus, and his climactic defense of the Duke (as surrogate for the Duchess) in parliament.
10:20-11:23: is the Emily Wharton/Ferdinand Lopez story; ended more than set adrift as man commits suicide and woman retreats to father’s arms in 11:23 (a PM story which actually takes over Trollope’s PM at times)
12:24-26: The Duke’s Children, with ending of The Prime Minister. The ending of the Palliser story, with emergence of Silverbridge and Mary as new generation, and death of the now Duchess of Omnium in 12:26 (more PM and DC, with Silverbridge-focused matter (with his father, Tifto, Isabel Boncassen) and Mary-focused matter (with Frank). Much omitted with Mrs Finn taking Lady Cantripp’s role and her own.
10:21, 11:21, 12:24: the Mabel-Frank substory fitted into an introductory (where Silverbridge following mother’s orders ejects him from castle) and two charged scenes, one in Venice moving swiftly and silently and one powerful one in 12:24
11:24: Frank Tregear and Mabel Grex (I can’t show those which are excised altogether), as it happens a proto-Henry James sinister one; in the book they have begun by being after their respective sibling partners’ money
The reader will see I have identified an outline for 2 overriding stories: 1) the Pallisers and 2) Phineas Finn and Madame Max, the central figures. What often become or are the main stories in the 6 novels figure here frequently as contrasting or parallel substories. One of the 6 novels, The Eustace Diamonds, is interwoven into Major Story 2, or the two Phineas novels. It may seem perverse in me not to present ED as a third major story, but I’m trying to get at the underlying outline and major hinge points which hold the 26 episodes together.
I’ve also identified the inset novellas, some longer, some shorter, which are mostly set adrift. I no longer attempt to count them as they intertwine. The most savagely-cut sub-stories are found in The Eustace Diamonds (which however itself becomes not quite a substory) and The Duke’s Children (ditto): of Frank Greystock and Lucy Morris’s governess world, the Lucinda Roanoke parallel; Frank Tregear and Mabel Grex as a pair taking over Silverbridge and Mary, and Mabel’s tragedy. Mrs Greenow and her suitors are omitted altogether.
These decisions were partly taken because these characters do not affect the major hinge-points of the Palliser and Phineas’s story (by contrast for example, one cannot eliminate Lizzie Eustace’s story because her husband, Emilius, killed Bonteen when Bonteen attempted to defend Lizzie and her property from Emilius).
It might also be a particular actor is so effective, that his part increased, e.g., Derek Jacobi asks both Madame Max and Adelaide Palliser to marry him: the first is narrated briefly by Trollope; the second is not there at all, but substitutes for Spooner (a burlesque story in PR), and may be modelled on Mr Collins asking Elizabeth Bennet to marry him in Pride and Prejudice. I surmize Fawn’s part grew when Jacobi came on board and the parts were filmed; he was inserted into political parties, political table talk (ironic) and a humiliation before the prince at the political club. Jacobi is often mentioned when people remember watching the films from years back; the character, Fawn, (alas to me) emerges as the unmanly man of the series (a quietly gay allusion to Swinburne makes the one character who might be gay, Lopez, sympathetic insofar as he is isolated and without connections):
7:14: The familiar metonymy of character=bird in the cage is common in these films, but not likened to a man: Fawn is here set upon one of the domineering women of the films, Clara Hittaway, his sister in Trollope’s ED
Nevertheless, it’s telling that it’s a male role that is increased, and one that addresses the problem of “manliness” and manly success in the series (Clara is telling Fawn to advance on all fronts immediately; Fawn: “But Clara, she has withdrawn her position …”). And we miss out three major women: Mrs Arabella Greenow (comic), Lucy Morris (poigant), Lucinda Roanoke (bitter), with the story of the fourth scattered into near disarray, Mabel Grex (tragic). As I’ve suggested before, one can see the novellas as presenting a series of men trying to make it in the world and (in different ways) failing. While Raven did make a much more upbeat story, he kept the discomfort of Trollope’s comfort romances for men firmly in place.
Journalizing 4/16: I read, skimmed, and rearranged and (in my notes at any rate) somewhat revised my understanding of the arrangement of the six novels, their main and subplots, from 1:1 to 8:17. I’ve decided that before I go on to summarize and comment on the last two parts of the series (12:25 and 12:26), I will go back and outline the ending of the Phineas Redux matter (9:18 and 9:19), as well as the opening of The Prime Minister (10:20), and insert these summaries into that blog. Then I’ll move on to the center of The Prime Minister, which contains the Ferdinand and Emily Lopez story, and the first snatches of the Frank Tregear, Mabel Grex, Mary and Plantagenet (yes that’s his first name) Palliser or Silverbridge stories (10:21, 11:22, 11:23)
I have at least properly done 12:24, the first of the three parts of the Palliser series where most is based on The Duke’s Children.
Then I’ll be ready to I’ve study 12:25 and 12:26. I’ve just reread Trollope’s The Duke’s Children and loved it. I mean to write two blogs on the two last parts adapted from this book.
Then the whole matter (all the blogs I’ve written over the last three years) will go up on my website.
I hope then to return to my movie project on the Austen films which now exists as a a long draft chapter called Seeking Refuge: The Sense and Sensibility films; I mean to finish that and send it out to a publisher.