Sybil : Or The Two Nations, Paperback
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Sybil, or The Two Nations is one of the finest novels to depict the social problems of class-ridden Victorian England.

The book's publication in 1845 created a sensation, for its immediacy and readability brought the plight of the working classes sharply to the attention of the reading public.

The 'two nations' of the alternative title are the rich and poor, so disparate in their opportunities and living conditions, and so hostile to each other. that they seem almost to belong to different contries.

The gulf between them is given a poignant focus by the central romantic plot concerning the love of Charles Egremont, a member of the landlord class, for Sybil, the poor daughter of a militant Chartist leader.

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Classic fiction (pre c 1945)
  • ISBN: 9780199539055



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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.

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