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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (1914)

by Robert Tressell

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,3743710,204 (3.96)1 / 94
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is the classic working-class novel. It was written in 1906 by an impoverished house painter, Robert Tressell, and within its framework contains a manifesto for socialism. It tells of the appalling working conditions of a group of painters and decorators and their struggle to survive at the most basic level. It is moving, grimly humorous and tragic. It has sold over 6 million copies worldwide since it was published, and has the power to change lives.… (more)
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» See also 94 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 37 (next | show all)
I wanted to like this book because I'd heard so much about it, but there are only so many times one can read about men being willing to work for less, of two coats of paint being applied when there ought to be three, etc before it becomes repetitive and dreary. With 400 pages of the book read and another 200 stretching before me, I decided enough was enough. ( )
  cappybear | Jun 25, 2021 |
powerful propaganda, but a failure as literature. ( )
  SamanthaD-KR | Jun 10, 2021 |
It’s okay.
A bit dull and really belabours the point.

Mary Barton did it much better:
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/54620 ( )
  mjhunt | Jan 22, 2021 |
Overlong, under-edited, but very detailed and always interesting. The book works through the travails of workmen at the not very lucrative bottom of the Edwardian dynamic, and does so with the insight of one of their own. In parts dogmatic, in parts adopting the approach of rational inquiry, but always from a committed standpoint; such that when in Chapter 3 a baby shows up unquietly teething, you're already foreseeing the Dickensian scene of maudlin fate that will follow. Tressell’s motive is the “suppressor fury” (his phrase) - exposing the injustices and unfairness of these working arrangements, of the economy as it was, and is. His remedy is Marxist but not in the wearisome formula of a tract; the book is written in the prosaic profane discourse of workmen, and with real common feeling for their ways. Still, in the way of Marxists, he can be patronising in his insistence on received truth and on the delusions (false consciousness) of the men. Likewise, the author curls his lip at their diversions and pleasures - football, their “beano”, taking sides in elections, churchgoing. Overall an engaging read, and it is rather touching now to be reminded how keen the belief was (pre USSR) in the utopia of common endeavours and gains. There’s documentary interest too, as these workmen, housepainters mostly, are working on the very housing stock we now expensively cherish. ( )
  eglinton | Oct 25, 2020 |
The first part of the book was interesting, I liked learning about the way of life and living conditions van the group of main characters. How they interacted, how work matters were delat with then etc.

When the amount of pages read grew however, I started not liking it very much. It became a very political book, less interesting for me. ( )
  BoekenTrol71 | Jul 14, 2020 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (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, PeterIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Miles, PeterEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Sillitoe, AlanIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is the classic working-class novel. It was written in 1906 by an impoverished house painter, Robert Tressell, and within its framework contains a manifesto for socialism. It tells of the appalling working conditions of a group of painters and decorators and their struggle to survive at the most basic level. It is moving, grimly humorous and tragic. It has sold over 6 million copies worldwide since it was published, and has the power to change lives.

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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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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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