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Sybil, or the Two Nations

Benjamin Disraeli

Book Overview: 

Sybil is one of the most prominent political novels of the mid-nineteenth century, taking as its subject the "condition of England" question

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Abbey ruins. When the two men had joined the beautiful Religious, whose apparition had so startled Egremont, they all three quitted the Abbey by a way which led them by the back of the cloister garden, and so on by the bank of the river for about a hundred yards, when they turned up the winding glen of a dried-up tributary stream. At the head of the glen, at which they soon arrived, was a beer-shop, screened by some huge elms from the winds that blew over the vast moor, which, except in the direction of Mardale, now extended as far as the eye could reach. Here the companions stopped, the beautiful Religious seated herself on a stone bench beneath the trees, while the elder stranger calling out to the inmate of the house to apprise him of his return, himself proceeded to a neighbouring shed, whence he brought forth a very small rough pony with a rude saddle, but one evidently intended for a female rider.

"It is well," said the taller of the men "that I am not a . . . Read More

Community Reviews

Disraeli is very much the bête noire of Gladstone's biography, but I thought reading one of his novels would provide more fun and interesting insight than adding yet another unfinished biography to my list.
One of Disraeli's oft-commented upon "qualifications" for office was his ability to flatter Qu

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 af

“We live in an age where to be young and to be indifferent can no longer by synonymous. We must prepare for the coming hour. The claims of the future are represented by suffering millions; and the youth of a nation are the trustees of posterity”.

The closing paragraph written by Disraeli nearly 200 y

My full review is available on Keeping Up With The Penguins.

Look, I’m all about political reform and uplifting the working classes. I can totally get behind Disraeli’s points about representative democracy and equality. But I must say, when it came to crafting a fictional story to make those points,

If you don't like politics or satires, this is not the book for you. While I am not very political myself, I like satires very much. This one uses a variation of Romeo and Juliet as a framework: Charles Egremont, newly-elected aristocratic Member of Parliament, meets and falls in love with the beaut

Apparently, Disraeli read little fiction himself. 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

It’s a funny little novel. Imagine a serving prime minister sitting down to write a novel, and you’d probably conjure up something pretty much like this offering.

Great novelist Disraeli most certainly ain’t. His prose occasionally borders on the insane. It’s not all as clunky and awful as the extra

Disraeli definitely had an agenda with this book. Yes, he was very political in his life so why wouldn’t we expect his novels to reflect that? 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 cl

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 politica

Rather well done historical fiction, blending actual events like Chartist riots and Parliamentary intrigues with social commentary about the aristocracy versus the working class, with nicely-done satirical sketches of fictional asshole aristocrats. Where I would fault Disraeli (although no more than

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