Sybil, or the Two Nations

Benjamin DISRAELI (1804 - 1881)

Sybil is one of the most prominent political novels of the mid-nineteenth century, taking as its subject the "condition of England" question. That phrase was first used by Thomas Carlyle in an essay of 1839 on Chartism, a working-class protest movement that plays a prominent role in this novel. The two nations are the rich and the poor, and the increasing gulf between them, and their condition also inspired such writers as Charles Dickens and Mrs. Gaskell, among others (one of whom, Friederich Engels, was the disciple of Karl Marx, and in his The Condition of the Working Class in England in 1844 described the appalling effects of the industrial revolution a year before Sybil appeared). Disraeli, of course, was far from being a Marxist though, like Engels, his sympathies are with the poor, exemplified in this book particularly by the Chartists, who were active between roughly 1839 and 1848. In his view, the villains are the aristocratic Whigs and Whig-Liberals, who, ever since the despoliation of the monasteries by Henry VIII in the sixteenth century, had made sure that the moneys which had been used for the alleviation of social distress and poverty, now flowed into their own pockets, leaving the poor with little recourse to help. His solution, which he sought to put into effect when he later became Prime Minister, was to push for measures of what he called "Tory democracy," or a kind of "compassionate conservatism," though quite different from the sort recently seen in the United States. Whatever one thinks of his politics, Disraeli tells a good story, in this case about the love of the aristocratic Charles Egremont for the lovely Chartist Sybil Gerard. In 2003, the Guardian ranked Sybil as No. 15 on its list of Hundred Greatest novels, and some consider it the best political novel of the nineteenth century. There is also general agreement that Disraeli (Lord Beaconsfield, as he became) and Winston Churchill are probably the only two prime ministers who can be seen as successes in the world of literature as well as that of politics. (Summary by Nicholas Clifford)

Genre(s): General Fiction, Romance

Language: English

Section Chapter Reader Time
Play 00 00 - Dedication and Advertisement Nicholas Clifford
00:01:55
Play 01 01 - Book I, Chapter i Nicholas Clifford
00:10:36
Play 02 02 - Book I, Chapter ii Nicholas Clifford
00:08:27
Play 03 03 - Book I, Chapter iii Nicholas Clifford
00:43:36
Play 04 04 - Book I, Chapter iv Nicholas Clifford
00:06:29
Play 05 05 - Book I, Chapter v Nicholas Clifford
00:19:53
Play 06 06 - Book I, Chapter vi Nicholas Clifford
00:15:20
Play 07 07 - Book II, Chapter i Nicholas Clifford
00:15:45
Play 08 08 - Book II, chapter ii Nicholas Clifford
00:07:21
Play 09 09 - Book II, chapter iii Nicholas Clifford
00:11:03
Play 10 10 - Book II, chapter iv Nicholas Clifford
00:12:49
Play 11 11 - Book II, chapter v Nicholas Clifford
00:15:44
Play 12 12 - Book II, chapter vi Nicholas Clifford
00:20:03
Play 13 13 - Book II, chapter vii Nicholas Clifford
00:14:15
Play 14 14 - Book II, chapter viii Nicholas Clifford
00:10:04
Play 15 15 - Book II, chapter ix Nicholas Clifford
00:12:00
Play 16 16 - Book II, chapter x Nicholas Clifford
00:24:44
Play 17 17 - Book II, chapter xi Nicholas Clifford
00:18:29
Play 18 18 - Book II, chapter xii Nicholas Clifford
00:12:11
Play 19 19 - Book II, chapter xiii Nicholas Clifford
00:13:53
Play 20 20 - Book II, chapter xiv Nicholas Clifford
00:12:54
Play 21 21 - Book II, chapter xv Nicholas Clifford
00:14:59
Play 22 22 - Book II, chapter xvi Nicholas Clifford
00:17:40
Play 23 23 - Book III, chapter i Nicholas Clifford
00:16:47
Play 24 24 - Book III, chapter ii Nicholas Clifford
00:21:04
Play 25 25 - Book III, chapter iii Nicholas Clifford
00:15:00
Play 26 26- Book III, chapter iv Nicholas Clifford
00:15:32
Play 27 27 - Book III, chapter v Nicholas Clifford
00:16:19
Play 28 28 -Book III, chapter vi Nicholas Clifford
00:07:37
Play 29 29 - Book III, chapter vii Nicholas Clifford
00:06:47
Play 30 30 - Book III, chapter viii Nicholas Clifford
00:25:59
Play 31 31 - Book III, chapter ix Nicholas Clifford
00:05:11
Play 32 32 - Book III, chapter x Nicholas Clifford
00:20:07
Play 33 33 - Book IV, chapter 1 Nicholas Clifford
00:12:25
Play 34 34 - Book IV, chapter ii Nicholas Clifford
00:06:59
Play 35 35 - Book IV, chapter iii Nicholas Clifford
00:11:14
Play 36 36 - Book IV, chapter iv Nicholas Clifford
00:15:06
Play 37 37 - Book IV, chapter v Nicholas Clifford
00:18:52
Play 38 38 - Book IV, chapter vi Nicholas Clifford
00:15:24
Play 39 39 - Book IV, chapter vii Nicholas Clifford
00:19:34
Play 40 40 - Book IV, chapter viii Nicholas Clifford
00:09:04
Play 41 41 - Book IV, chapter ix Nicholas Clifford
00:12:00
Play 42 42 - Book IV, chapter x Nicholas Clifford
00:07:24
Play 43 43 - Book IV, chapter 11 Nicholas Clifford
00:12:48
Play 44 44 - Book IV, chapter 12 Nicholas Clifford
00:10:58
Play 45 45 - Book IV, chapter 13 Nicholas Clifford
00:08:57
Play 46 46 - Book IV, chapter 14 Nicholas Clifford
00:11:57
Play 47 47 - Book IV, chapter 15 Nicholas Clifford
00:15:58
Play 48 48 - Book V, chapter 1 Nicholas Clifford
00:28:53
Play 49 49 - Book V, chapter 2 Nicholas Clifford
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Play 50 50 - Book V, chapter 3 Nicholas Clifford
00:10:42
Play 51 51 - Book V, chapter 4 Nicholas Clifford
00:19:24
Play 52 52 - Book V, chapter 5 Nicholas Clifford
00:12:28
Play 53 53 - Book V, chapter 6 Nicholas Clifford
00:08:51
Play 54 54 - Book V, chapter 7 Nicholas Clifford
00:12:55
Play 55 55 - Book V, chapter 8 Nicholas Clifford
00:17:40
Play 56 56 - Book V, chapter 9 Nicholas Clifford
00:13:02
Play 57 57 - Book V, chapter 10 Nicholas Clifford
00:10:41
Play 58 58 - Book V, chapter 11 Nicholas Clifford
00:10:32
Play 59 59 - Book VI, chapter 1 Nicholas Clifford
00:07:19
Play 60 60 - Book VI, chapter 2 Nicholas Clifford
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Play 61 61 - Book VI, chapter 3 Nicholas Clifford
00:11:56
Play 62 62 - Book VI, chapter 4 Nicholas Clifford
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Play 63 63 - Book VI, chapter 5 Nicholas Clifford
00:18:05
Play 64 64 - Book VI, chapter 6 Nicholas Clifford
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Play 65 65 - Book VI, chapter 7 Nicholas Clifford
00:12:11
Play 66 66 - Book VI, chapter 8 Nicholas Clifford
00:10:24
Play 67 67 - Book VI, chapter 9 Nicholas Clifford
00:15:50
Play 68 68 - Book VI, chapter 10 Nicholas Clifford
00:16:21
Play 69 69 - Book VI, chapter 11 Nicholas Clifford
00:10:41
Play 70 70 - Book VI, chapter 12 Nicholas Clifford
00:32:58
Play 71 71 - Book VI, chapter 13 Nicholas Clifford
00:11:57