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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by…
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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

by Robert Tressell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,178309,946 (4.01)1 / 85
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As ever on reading this book (8th or 9th time) I'm torn between admiring it as a important piece of left-wing writing and the often reactionary views of Tressell himself - after all he "employed" a black manservant (ie slave) called Sixpence, of whom he was said to be "very fond". In 1897, Tresell led a successful protest against the employment of black skilled labour.
I suppose all our idols have feet of clay! ( )
  Dithreabhach | May 8, 2018 |
This book is a bitterly savage satire on the social, economic and religious conditions in England during the early years of the twentieth century. In some ways this reminded me of Dos Passos's trilogy [U.S.A.]. Both books make it crystal clear why socialism, Bolshevism/communism, trade unions and anarchy were popular ideas in the years immediately preceding & following the Russian Revolution. However, Dos Passos's books were ultimately more optimistic than this one; despite the terrible conditions of American laborers, there was the feeling that Wobblies and/or the union organizers would eventually make life better. Tressell holds out no such hope - instead, he shows that the most downtrodden citizens are some of the strongest opponents to change.

I did find the names Tressell gave to the employers amusing: Mr. Oyley Sweater (as in one who sweats the work out of his employees); Mr. Grinder; Mrs Starvem; the painting firm of Dauber and Botchit; Snatchum the undertaker; and on the town council Dr. Weakling as the only one interested in helping others! Not to mention the workers' manager Hunter, variously called Nimrod or Misery.

While I believe that conditions for blue collar workers in the United States & England have improved, I found this idea that the workers firmly held to conditions that were ultimately responsible for their misery depressing because it seems so similar to the way lower economic classes in the U.S. responded to Donald Trump.

I also listened to the LibriVox recording; Tadhg's narration was wonderful -- this free public domain audiobook was of better quality than some commercial audiobooks! ( )
1 vote leslie.98 | Jan 2, 2018 |
Too long and political. Otherwise an interesting look at the lives of the working poor. ( )
  tgamble54 | Aug 22, 2017 |
I have twice tried to read this book. Once when I was in my late teens and another in my 50s. Both times I have been unable to finish it. The plot is dreary and repetitive. Its analysis is simplistic and bitter. I think it is really only popular because we want it to be. It was written by a working class man who had first-hand experience of the class war and an insight into how they were and what they suffered at the turn of the century. He in turn makesx us suffer pages and pages of boredom. ( )
  mumoftheanimals | Sep 22, 2016 |
A book that teaches you to stand for your beliefs, no matter the difficulties. ( )
  siok | Aug 21, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 30 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Tressell, Robertprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Breedon, NeilCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Day, GaryIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sillitoe, AlanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists tells the story of a group of working men who are joined one day by Owen, a journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society. Owen's spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system rouse his fellow men from their political quietism. A masterpiece of wit and political passion and one of the most authentic novels of English working class life ever written.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0586090363, Paperback)

Originally published in 1914, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a timeless story of Socialism, political awakenings and class struggle, told with a volatile mix of heartfelt rage and sly humour. The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists tells the story of a group of working men who are joined one day by Owen, a journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society. Owen's spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system rouse his fellow men from their political quietism. It is both a masterpiece of wit and political passion and one of the most authentic novels of English working class life ever written. This enduring favourite is now reinvigorated by a smart new jacket and exclusive extra material as part of Perennial's Modern Classics line of reissues. Now its timeless message of justice, equality and reason will be introduced to a whole new generation of discerning readers.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:22:20 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

This novel tells the story of a group of working men who are joined one day by Owen, a journeyman-prophet with a vision of a just society. Owen's spirited attacks on the greed and dishonesty of the capitalist system rouse his fellow men from their political quietism.… (more)

» see all 5 descriptions

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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