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The Prime Minister (World's Classics) Hardcover – 10 Oct 1991

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 849 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc; New edition edition (10 Oct. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195208994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195208993
  • Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.6 x 19 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,778,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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About the Author

Anthony Trollope (1815 - 1882) established a successful career in the Post Office whilst also writing over forty novels, plus short stories. He enjoyed considerable acclaim during his lifetime. He is best remembered for the Barsetshire Chronicles.

David Skilton is Professor of English at Cardiff. He has also edited Thomas Hardy for the Penguin Classics.

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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It is certainly of service to a man to know who were his grandfathers and who were his grandmothers if he entertain an ambition to move in the upper circles of society, and also of service to be able to speak of them as of persons who were themselves somebodies in their time. Read the first page
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Didier TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 11 Sept. 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This, the fifth novel in the Palliser series, is according to David Skilton in his introduction `the key work in the (...) series'. Now I wouldn't know about that, not having read the sixth and last novel, but what I do know without a shadow of a doubt is that this is a very very good novel in its own right.

Trollope loosely intertwines two plots in `The Prime Minister'. In the `political' plot Plantagenet Palliser is asked and eventually (though reluctantly) accepts to become prime minister, to the great pride and joy of his wife Lady Glencora. In the `social' plot, Emily Wharton, daughter of a wealthy lawyer, falls in love with and marries, against the advice of all her friends and relatives, a certain Ferdinand Lopez (about whom nobody seems to know much, not who his parents were, or how he makes a living). In both cases the protagonists come to realize before long that it's not all gold that glitters: Palliser learns that being prime minister is not all it's made out to be, and Emily discovers how deceptive appearances can be when she gets to know her husband better.

Trollope investigates several themes in `The Prime Minister' by (implicitly) comparing and contrasting the main characters. As to the men: Plantagenet Palliser is indeed `the perfect gentleman' but this has its drawbacks too, or so it seems: he is scrupulous to a t, unable to socialize and `joke around' with other men, and ever in doubt of his own capability to be a good prime minister. The question Trollope raises is ultimately: can a true gentleman be a good prime minister? Ferdinand Lopez on the other hand is the opposite: he has all the outer trappings of a gentleman, but it turns out that beneath this thin veneer he is a ruthless and egotistical opportunist.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By reader 451 TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 21 April 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The Prime Minister contains two interlacing stories: the career of Plantagenet Palliser, the hero in the series of which this novel is the crowning part, and the tribulations of the London heiress Emily Wharton in love and marriage. I thought the insider's view of parliamentary and cabinet politics would be the novel's attraction. Actually the struggles of Emily Wharton, who has made a love match to a dangerous adventurer, turned out to be more exciting. Trollope was a master storyteller, and that tale is full of interesting surprises as well as sharp, entertaining dialogue. The political story tends to form a lighter backdrop to it.

The Prime Minister is indeed half social comedy and half psychological. It is a cross, perhaps, between Evelyn Waugh and George Eliot. It tends, besides, to be interested in the emotional side of politics and in the effect of social mores on private life, not the other way around. It is also prejudiced (the villain is a swarthy Latin, and he is an arch-villain), though somehow that doesn't shock too much (so am I: a swarthy Latin, I mean, not an arch-villain). But most importantly, it is a compelling read.

Two more points. First, it is not necessary to have read the previous Palliser novels to enjoy this one. Second, in spite of its length, it is quickly read, even if the last hundred pages are superfluous (the work was serialised and expected to reach a certain length).
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. K. A. Wheatley TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 8 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
What I love about Trollope is his scope and vision. He writes so brilliantly about politics and just makes them come alive. There is not a moment of boredom from start to finish, and that is because Trollope has a fundamental understanding of what politics is all about, it is about people, and he cares passionately for people. I get so attached to the characters in his novels because they are given real, interesting lives. This book is about compromise in politics, about how ideals have to be tempered for real life and is an interesting precursor to the final book in the series "The Duke's Children" for what Palliser learns in politics here he has to learn more brutally in his private life next. Fantastic
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Stracs VINE VOICE on 3 April 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Trollope devotee I cannot honestly say this is one of his works which I enjoyed the most, but it is one of his works which I admire the most. Trollope was really pushing the boundaries of his own writing when he wrote The Prime Minister, he was daring to be different - which is something I always admire in a writer with an established reputation. As a result, The Prime Minister lacks something of the warmth of the Barset novels or the political optimism of some of the earlier Palliser novels e.g. Phineas Finn. However, it is one of his finest, most complex observations of marital relationships, and also his most acute observation of the British political system and for these reasons it is a great novel.

As always with Trollope, the women are the standout characters of the piece - Lady Glencora is at her most charming, witty, frustrating, obstinate best in this book. She is ably assisted thankfully by Mrs Finn - the wonderful Madam Max of previous novels. It was such a relief to find Mrs Finn still played a significant role here despite her marriage in the previous book of the series. Emily Lopez is admittedly not my favourite of Trollope's ladies but she is at least not as saccharine sweet as the likes of Lily Dale, and she is made up for by the underused but rather marvellous Mrs Parker.

However, the male characters here do almost live up to their female rivals in interest, which is unusual in a Trollope novel. Ferdinand Lopez is a great example of the complex outsider, and the direct contrast presented with Plantagenet Palliser, the ultimare insider, is brilliantly drawn. Lopez remains largely a mystery throughout the novel, which just adds to it's brilliance. His ancestral origins remain unclear throughout, as does his cultural background.
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