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Benjamin Disraeli

Book Overview: 

Coningsby is the first of trilogy of political novels that Disraeli and gives an insight into his views of the political turmoil following the passage of the Great Reform Bill by the Whigs in 1832 (a second Reform Bill was passed in 1867 under Disraeli’s Tory leadership as prime minister). While Coningsby looks primarily at political questions, its successor -- Sybil, or the Two Nations -- was concerned with the “condition of England” question and the growing social and economic imbalance between rich and poor that in tje writer's view was hastened (though not begun) by the industrial revolution. Granted that Disraeli was not Dickens or Trollope or Eliot or one of the other giants of British letters in the nineteenth century, it’s a bit unfair to suggest (as some have) that the plots are thin and only there to provide the writer with a podium for setting forth his political and social views. It’s true that Boy Meets Girl, Boy Loses Girl, Boy Gets Girl, but much else happens as well, particularly thanks to the role played by the mysterious figure of the Jewish Sidonia, who in addition to enormous wealth and widespread international connections embodies a kind of wisdom that transcends the mere knowledge acquired by even the best educated Englishmen. Coningsby, himself a product of both Eton and Cambridge, is fortunate enough to be taken under his wing, and intelligent enough to accept his guidance.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .wn prescient sagacity and maturing ambition; were all men gifted with a high spirit of enterprise, and animated by that active fortitude which is the soul of free governments.

It was a lively season, that winter of 1834! What hopes, what fears, and what bets! From the day on which Mr. Hudson was to arrive at Rome to the election of the Speaker, not a contingency that was not the subject of a wager! People sprang up like mushrooms; town suddenly became full. Everybody who had been in office, and everybody who wished to be in office; everybody who had ever had anything, and everybody who ever expected to have anything, were alike visible. All of course by mere accident; one might meet the same men regularly every day for a month, who were only 'passing through town.'

Now was the time for men to come forward who had never despaired of their country. True they had voted for the Reform Bill, but that was to prevent a revolution. And. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Undoubtedly a useful historical insight on Disraeli’s thinking and something of a reflection on the politics of the day, but a fairly awful novel. Often excruciating eulogising of a social class (upper), a large part of which, one suspects, despised the author because of his origins, no matter how u

I had always been an admirer of Disraeli ever since learning about him in history lessons at school. After recently reading 'The Lion and the Unicorn', I thought it was about time I tried one of Disraeli's own novels - and what a pleasant read it has been.

Disraeli ought to be up there with Dickens i

I'd actually rate this book 2 stars as a novel, and 4 stars as a historical document.

As a novel, it has a plot that meanders slowly for nearly 400 pages, including long diversions in which Disraeli comments on 19th Century British politics, before suddenly rushing to a climax in the last few chapte

This book is quite entertaining, has an engaging narrative, and gives great insight into the political atmosphere of its time. One trying to understand the tory/conservative perspective of the great reform act should definetely give this a read.

The edition from World Classics gave a handy index of the terms used compiled by Sheila Smith. Although it could have gone more into the historical background. The novel is more about the historical political background and Disraeli's political stances than about the story. For a modern reader Disra

This is an odd book. Nominally a novel, the plot and setting are pretty much just padding and framing for character sketches and analysis on the politics of the era. Its purpose is not so much to entertain as to explain the views of the author, B. Disraeli, MP. It's distinctly Victorian, with very l

Having read and thoroughly enjoyed Disraeli's Sybil, (you can find my observations around here somewhere), I somehow came away with the idea that he had only written a couple of novels and when I stumbled upon this 1940s Modern Library edition (in the rather excellent Pickwick bookstore in Nyack, Ne


I turned to this after rereading Tom Reiss' "The Orientalist." Wanted to read about the status of Jews in 19th Century Britain.

How amazing people were before TV and the internet and twitting. Politicians wrote fine books and knew about art & literature! Obama would have been much happier ba

1. Too many digressions/rants about politicians/politics of the early 19th c.

2. Pale imitation of Trollope.

3. There are some interesting characters and situations buried amid the rants (this kept me from abandoning the book), but probably not worth the effort.

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