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): Romance

Language: English

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