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Sep 24, Peter rated it it was ok. Benjamin Disraeli was a politician. He had Queen Victoria's approval, or perhaps, more accurately, Victoria really disliked Gladstone. In any case, one can either enjoy or disapprove of his politics, but it is difficult to warm up to his abilities as a novelist. Sybil is first and foremost a political novel; it does offer character, and the fundamentals of a plot, but when you sift out the thin literary bits, you are left with large chunks of politics. It is interesting to see how Disraeli portra Benjamin Disraeli was a politician.

It is interesting to see how Disraeli portrays the two nations of the workers and the landed gentry, and one can learn from his discussion. There were indeed those of the upper class who were sympathetic to the concerns of the lower classes, and it is very true that the Industrial Revolution was a social revolution, but Disraeli's novel was very disjointed.

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Sybil, or the Two Nations

Far too often political arguments and comments interfered with the telling and development of a good narrative. Structureally, we have the rich represented by Charles Egremont, who is the second son, and thus has more freedom to cast his eyes around society and question its structure. For the poor we have Sybil, a beautiful, angelic young woman whose father is Walter Gerard a leader of the poor who are trying to gain more recognition for their plight in society.

Naturally, after several plot-like twists they fall in love, Egremont saves Sybil and all this is wrapped up with obvious political overtones from the author.

Sybil, or the Two Nations by Benjamin Disraeli

This novel does perhaps offer some insight on the social upheaval occurring in the 19C but too many shades of party politics tend to dominate the novel. There are other writers of the industrial novel such as Dickens and Gaskell. For fiction read them. View 1 comment. Disraeli definitely had an agenda with this book. The difficulty with him is the following: a He is trying to explain an entire movement in the Victorian period: the struggle for the rights of the working class. To encapsulate this in around pages is extremely difficult to do.


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Fuck yes. He thus has to compromise either his beliefs or the believability of his inventions. That being said I did enjoy this book. Though I think Sybil is a hypocrite and Egremont should have quit being such a weenie, I appreciate what Disraeli attempted to do in writing this novel. Plus: Lord Marney is so deliciously evil I just want to cackle along with him Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

View all 5 comments. Feb 13, Peter Ellwood rated it it was ok. His prose occasionally borders on the insane.

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Well, no. There are plenty more examples where that came from too. The characterisation is shallow in some ways, but revealing in others. But by the end he still comes down at the savage end of the spectrum rather than the noble. The plot is rubbish too. I could go on.

Sybil : or The Two Nations

For that reason I would give it two and a half stars if such a rating existed, to lift it above the dross I tend to give two stars to. Not for one second do you doubt that he reckons he can do this writing thing, and strangely, it helps him along. Oct 25, Simon rated it really liked it. Taken for what it isn't; for example it isn't a sympathetic account of Chartism; Sybil is not a great book.

It tries to champion the idea that if the working classes could only acknowledge their inferiority to the aristocracy then the aristocracy might then reward this act of deference by looking after the great unwashed a little better. This alliance presumably would be "one nation politics". Good luck Ed Milliband! Taken as a fascinating insight into a developing political mind, or a critique o Taken for what it isn't; for example it isn't a sympathetic account of Chartism; Sybil is not a great book. Taken as a fascinating insight into a developing political mind, or a critique of The Corn Laws, The Poor Law, The New Poor Law Ammendment, a revealing of the living conditions of the industrial and rural poor, the fear of revolution in mid 19th century Britain, the pointing out of some of the reasons why Chartism failed at the time , as a collection of characters, some of whom work very well indeed we have early spin doctors in here as well as the unique novel writing of a major statesman, it is a work that deserves to be widely read.

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Mr Disraeli will be heard. Apparently, Disraeli read little fiction himself.

Top 20 Benjamin Disraeli Quotes - (Author of Sybil, or the Two Nations)

This is evident from the appallingly bad plotting and derivative characterization herein. Disraeli awkwardly attempts to mix political treatise Marx before Marx, as he has a go in favour of THe PEOPLE and Labour against Capitalism [capitals as used with vapid portentiousness in the novel], excoriating the growing disparity between rich and poor with romance.

It doesn't work, for several reasons. One is that there isn't much logical overlap betw Apparently, Disraeli read little fiction himself. One is that there isn't much logical overlap between the plots such as they are. Another is that it's difficult to make a plausible case for the inherent merit of the working class when the apparent symbolic representative thereof is in fact an aristoctrat who has been robbed of her due--a tired play on the fair unknown, hamhandedly handled.

Furthermore, she doesn't even appear until about twenty percent of the way through the book and then has virtually nothing to do for the rest of it except love her father and be the object of an aristocrat's love. He ends up rescuing her from a mob of rioting strikers. So much for the working class. Disraeli seems to want to sympathize with the working class but without the ability to really get beyond the stereotypes of either the salt of the earth English peasant duly cared for by paternalistic landowners or the rowdy, violent mob made so by greedy and parasitic landowners.

The characters are at best flat. The action is poorly constructed. Disraeli will, for example, end a chapter on a cliffhanger and then ignore any follow-up to said cliff-hanger subsequently, except in passing. One might see this as daring and innovative. I see it as a failure of novelistic architecture.

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There are many more nineteenth century novelists to whom one ought to devote one's attention ahead of Disraeli. I would not suggest being in any hurry to read this. Go for Dickens instead. He does Dickensian characters much better than Disraeli does them, for one thing. Feb 15, Katie Lumsden rated it really liked it. More like 3. A really interesting read and another great Victorian novel. Some of the social commentary is a little heavy-handed and it's not a patch on Gaskell as industrial novels go, but an interesting plot and an enjoyable read :.

Mar 12, Paul Taylor rated it liked it. A unusual "mongrel" of a book with echoes of Dickens, Austen and Hansard. Is it a love story, is it a social commentary or is it a description of the evolution of Parliamentary democracy? It tries to be all three. I found this such an interesting read, yet it's also a book that's hard to recommend. It is too long for one thing and the characters are pretty much two dimensional ciphers for the political narrative.

But for me, the political narrative was compelling enough so neither of these really mattered. Disraeli's England has many parallel's to our own times, a country experiencing huge technological innovations, and a hunger and fear depending on where you are placed on the social strata of the chan I found this such an interesting read, yet it's also a book that's hard to recommend. Disraeli's England has many parallel's to our own times, a country experiencing huge technological innovations, and a hunger and fear depending on where you are placed on the social strata of the changes these will bring.

You realise the Industrial Revolution has such a huge impact on almost every aspect of every person's life, on the work you would be doing, on where and how you lived, how much things cost, how long you lived.


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  7. Of course, no story of massive societal change would be complete without a venal and enfeebled elite unable to grapple with the big 'state of the nation' questions. What I found really interesting is the argument that Disraeli puts forward that life under 'Venetian Capitalism' which he never really properly defines but broadly speaking seemed to cover industrialisation, international finance, government borrowing and high, perpetual taxation has meant that the conditions and opportunities for the poor are even worse than under feudalism. He theorises that the working class and old aristocracy are thus natural allies against the avaricious and greedy capitalist class.

    These are arguments that I've read about in a very detached way but I can't say I ever really properly understood. So if you like long political fiction and aren't too fussed about characterisations Sep 26, Liz rated it really liked it. I was expecting a political book, and I got one. The writing style might not be the greatest, and there were tendencies to melodrama.