Occupational Hazards: The Irishness of Liberal Opinion

Elaine Hadley

in Living Liberalism

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780226311883
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226311906 | DOI:
Occupational Hazards: The Irishness of Liberal Opinion

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This chapter explores mid-Victorian political liberalism and liberalism's relation to its imperial holdings. It discusses how Ireland mattered in Anthony Trollope's novel Phineas Finn and it particularly looks at Irish tenant rights. The Union of Settlement between Ireland and Britain was often understood—not just among liberals—as a problem of consent, framed in the affective language of attachment, even allegorized as a marital union. More important to this parallel construction between political and marital consent is the ethical content of these choices. Phineas Finn, however, opens a tiny aperture onto an alternative perspective of liberalism. This liberalism takes its stand not through appropriation or imperial occupation but from an ambivalent relation to one's own place, a dual occupation, as if an Irishman and liberal all at once, in the same space. It is liberalism where consent occurs through attachment and connection, not coercion or alienation.

Keywords: liberalism; mid-Victorian politics; Phineas Finn; Ireland; tenant rights; Anthony Trollope; imperialism

Chapter.  27462 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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