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Sybil, or The Two Nations by Benjamin…
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Sybil, or The Two Nations (1845)

by Benjamin Disraeli

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Young England Trilogy (2)

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» See also 35 mentions

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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 beautiful poor Chartist Sybil Gerard. Disraeli used little subtlety in making his point of England being "Two nations; between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; ... THE RICH AND THE POOR." and amidst the humor and the romance, there are strong indictments about a government that allows the terrible conditions of the working classes. The book covers the conditions of farming labourers, mill workers, miners and metalworkers - each suffers in a different way but all suffering.

I particularly liked the satire of the political hostesses & the names Disraeli used for the minor characters (such as Lord Muddlebrains, Lady Firebrace, Colonel Bosky, Mr. Hoaxem etc.). I had a little bit of familiarity with the way aristocratic women sometimes figured as political hostesses before this & so Disraeli's lampooning of them struck me as very funny, such as Lady St. Julian's belief that all that is necessary for the party to secure a Member's vote on some particular issue is to have "asked some of them to dinner, or given a ball or two to their wives and daughters! ... Losing a vote at such a critical time, when if I had had only a remote idea of what was passing through his mind, I would have even asked him to Barrowley for a couple of days." ( )
1 vote leslie.98 | Feb 6, 2017 |
I found this book amazing, fascinating, and irritating.
Let's get the irritating part out of the way first. I have no sympathy for the wealthy and powerful of any age and even less for the simpering Victorians -- perhaps this is a result of too many hours watching Master Piece Theater. In addition, I found the writing style of the mid 1800's ponderous compared to the current almost journalistic approach of many writers. Unlike another reviewer, I did not find Disraeli's insertion of reams of social and political commentary into the storyline a detraction. Again this is a personal bias of mine: I am an avid reader of history.

The fascinating part of Sybil is the historical context and Disraeli's narrative descriptions of life outside the Victorian Beltway. As I mentioned, I found his social and political digressions very interesting. I also found it fascinating that today's romantic novels are direct descendents of the Victorian's popular literature: something that may be common knowledge to many but was lost on me.

Lastly, Sybil amazed me because the social conflicts that so troubled Disraeli are still with us. America. One hundred and sixty-four years after Sybil was first published, the same dynamics of wealth and self-absorption that Disraeli wrote about still thrive.

Reading Sybil was time well spent. ( )
3 vote LesPhillips | Jul 9, 2009 |
Why don't more heads of state write novels? Actually, after reading Sybil we should be thankful that they don't, since apparently Disraeli thinks it's totally legit to interrupt the narrative for whole chapters devoted to the political and social history of England. Actually, I enjoyed this book more than I thought I would at first. When Disraeli is actually talking about things happening, he's really fairly good at it. Also, he has this dramatic device that initially annoyed me-- ending a chapter on a cliffhanger and then jumping ahead in the next chapter and filling in the resolution much later-- that I soon came to like, since I did want to know what happened next and thus kept on reading. Like Gaskell in North and South, though, Disraeli tangles with social problems that can't be solved in a novel, even a 400-page one, and so the resolution doesn't quite work. But Charles Egremont is a decent, likable protagonist (the best sort, really), and his overbearing, scheming mother was certainly fun; I wish she had had more to do. And that Sybil herself had had a character of any sort beyond "immensely virtuous", really.
1 vote Stevil2001 | Mar 9, 2009 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Benjamin Disraeliprimary authorall editionscalculated
Smith, Sheila M.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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I would inscribe these volumes to one whose noble spirit and gentle nature ever prompt her to sympathise with the suffering; to one whose sweet voice has often encouraged, and whose taste and judgment have ever guided, their pages; the most severe of critics, but—a perfect Wife!
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'I'll take the odds against Caravan.'
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0140431349, Paperback)

So vivid was its exposure of the horrifying inequalities of Victorian society--from the desperate poverty of the industrial workers to the gross and irresponsible excesses of the wealthy--that is subtitle "The Two Nations" has passed intothe language.

But Disraeli, the man who was to become one of Britian's most famous prime ministers, did not produce in "Sybil" merely a political tract on behalf of Tory democracy as the answer to the Hungry Forties. This is a dramatic novel of romance, full of wit and irony; a love story which ranges through adventure, mystery and political intrigue while questioning many of the basic assumptions of the Victorian social structure.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:12 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Benjamin Disraeli (* 21. Dezember 1804 in London; (QG (B19. April 1881 in Mayfair), 1. Earl of Beaconsfield seit 1876, war ein konservativer britischer Staatsmann und erfolgreicher Romanschriftsteller. Zwei Mal, 1868 und 1874 bis 1880 bekleidete er das Amt des britischen Premierministers. "Sybil" ist ein Roman von Benjamin Disraeli aus dem Jahr 1845. Er beschreibt das Schicksal der englischen Arbeiterklasse und deren zum Teil menschenunw(4)(Brdigen Lebensumstnde.… (more)

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