Michael Vignola, “Anthony Trollope’s Leap in the Dark: The Temporality of Victorian Political Reform and Victorian Women’s Suffrage” (pp. 321–353)
Anthony Trollope’s Phineas Finn (1867; 1869) depicts the seminal expansion of democracy under the Second Reform Act, an event that had yet to conclude when he finished composing the novel. This unique circumstance gives rise in the novel to anticipations that await real-world contingencies to become legible. Phineas Finn’s thick particularities thus bring into focus the temporality of reform characterized by the indeterminacy encoded in the phrase “a leap in the dark.” Attention to the circulation of the phrase and its evocation in Phineas Finn reveals the centrality of women’s suffrage to the project of democratic reform, particularly in its promise to realign the boundaries of political and private life.