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Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (Wordsworth Classics) Paperback – April 9, 2012


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Product Details

  • Series: Wordsworth Classics
  • Paperback: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth (April 9, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184022682X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840226829
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #442,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

'The first great English novel about the class war, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is spiked, witty, humorous, instructive and full of excitement, harmony and pathos.' Alan Sillitoe 'Some books seem to batter their way to immortality against all the odds, by sheer brute artistic strength, and high up in this curious and honourable company must be counted The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Robert Tressell's unfailing humour mixes with an unfailing rage and the two together make a truly Swiftian impact.' Evening Standard Robert Tressell has complete familiarity with the idiom of his characters. His language is bizarre, vital, highly inventive and precisely heard - it is a complete and living archaeology of the speech of a particular human group. A brilliant and very funny book.' Spectator --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

'The first great English novel about the class war, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is spiked, witty, humorous, instructive and full of excitement, harmony and pathos.' - ALAN SILLITOE

'Some books seem to batter their way to immortality against all the odds, by sheer brute artistic strength, and high up in this curious and honourable company must be counted The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Robert Tressell's unfailing humour mixes with an unfailing rage and the two together make a truly Swiftian impact.' - MICHAEL FOOT, Evening Standard

'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a wonderful book. Its wonder comes from the raciness of its story and the passionate ethics that emerge.' - City Limits

'Robert Tressell has complete familiarity with the idiom of his characters. His language is bizarre, vital, highly inventive and precisely heard - it is a complete and living archaeology of the speech of a particular human group. A brilliant and very funny book.' - Spectator

'A torch to pass from generation to generation.' TONY BENN --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

A perfect way to explain Socialism, it's form and need.
Blaise Phelan
Although written a century ago, the book deals with social problems as relevant today as the day it was written.
Ron Gletherow
To any one interested in history as it really was this is a must read book.
tim eborn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 28 people found the following review helpful By MR G S JACKSON on July 31, 2000
Format: Paperback
When I read this book, it stoked an emotional fire which fuelled a belief in the politics of social justice. Tressell is not as misty-eyed or naive as most socialist writers. He doesn't rely upon an unrealistic belief in human nature. Instead, he tackles ignorance, short-sightedness and cynicism head-on.
No Happy Endings here - it could never be a Hollywood film. The bitterness and pain you feel at the end leaves you wanting to change the world. To fight those forces ranged against the underdog. Even though you'll probably lose.
Seen in that light it feels as relevant today as it was when it was written.
I was given the book by a much older friend. I've now bought copies for half-a-dozen people. It's one of those books you just should read to be an all-rounded person.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful By jonmeyer@dircon.co.uk on February 18, 1998
Format: Paperback
A brilliant, sad and moving account of life in Edwardian England for the working class "Philanthropists" struggling through poverty in order to make their employers rich. Though starving and wretched the majority of these working men react furiously to suggestions that their poverty is caused by their "masters" robbing them of the fruits of their labours. They are referred to as philanthropists due to their generosity of spirit and material wealth , gladly handing over all the benefits of the luxuries and necessaries of life which they help to create, to their greedy paymasters and employers. The solution to their problems is provided by the author as a Socialist, Cooperative Commonwealth of Nations under God, where the marvels of modern science and technology should be harnessed, owned by the people, and producing an abundance of the comforts of civilisation, not for one company's profit but for everyone's needs. An old lesson whose truths are as relevant today as they were when this masterpiece was written. A Socialist's bible if ever their was one.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By thedevilscoachman on January 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
A friend of mine sent me this book, which I had never heard of at the time. If you get past the awkward title, and the somewhat purple Victorian prose, it really is a wonderful book. First and foremost, it reads really well. It's well-written, the story is compelling, and the characters likeable. The overall flavor I would describe as Dickensian, although nowhere near as baroque or whimsical. So it's not some boring polemic. And, second, it's socialist in its outlook. It explains socialism and the old Labour movement not in some theoretical, jargonistic way, but by means of practical examples that the central character uses to explain the movement to his co-workers. At the same time they're learning, you're learning, too - and it's very well done. Of course, the plot of the story drives home the lessons you've learned as well. And the arguments for more social equity work - I guess they can be argued against, if you're so inclined, but they're not at all simplistic or overly idealistic - they're really rather practical. Overall, a wonderful book for just about anyone thinking about the construction of society - even capitalists who'd like to cut their teeth against challenging political arguments.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By "alexandra3679" on December 9, 2003
Format: Paperback
I think that this book is excellent. It illustrates the workers, who have been made ignorant by a capitalist system premised on the values of feaudalism, in which wokers - or serfs - know their place, which is at the bottom of the hierachy. This contributes towards the workers intrasigence in their refusal to see the causes of their poverty, which subsequently causes them to be ingnorant. Those who became enlightened to the true causes of their poverty could be forgiven in their reluctance to fully embrace socialism for they were in a minority, and prone to assault as illustrated in the book.
This attitude prevails today, as it did in the early part of the 20th century, in that the majority of the British working class still insist that poverty, and inequality are caused by the drunken, the lazy unemployed, lone parents asylem seekers, and cheap foreign imports. As this attitude is encouraged by media propaganda, in a similar manner as those who benefit from the system in Tressell's book, then the working classes of post modern Britain remain just as intrasegent and ignorant as ever, the majority seeing edication as irrelevant to to them.
One aspect of the book that I am grateful to Tressel for is the way he highlighted the conditions of women in working class Britain in the early 20th century. By doing this Tressell gives credibility to the feminist movement, and its achievements so far.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Martyn Stanley on January 3, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is fantastic book on so many levels. It paints a vivid and real picture of 19th century life, of the hardships people faced, and the way they used humor and whatever means they had at their disposal to get through it. It was written in the 19th century, of the 19th century so reading as close to jumping in your DeLorean and firing up the flux capacitor as it gets. The life the protagonists lead is one of severe hardship and strife, of social inequality and of a lack of any of the modern safety nets which keep people in food and shelter when they have no work or means to support themselves. It's hard to read in places, the stark reality Tressell shows us is not a nice one.

While he takes us on a tour of the 19th century working class, Tressell makes a heartfelt plea for people to embrace socialism and to strive to make it our system of government. His simple examples of how it could work, and his examples of how capitalism is flawed are excellent and thought-provoking. I don't know whether Tressell's socialism could work in modern britain, but I think it offered a better life for the working classes of the 19th Century.

Terry Pratchett, often extols the power of narrative for getting a point across and Tressell's 'Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' is a prime example of how powerful it can be. It's partly the inspiration for expressing my own world view in my 'Deathsworn Arc' fantasy series.

All in all, anyone interested in political history should read this book. It's enjoyable and informative to the last.
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Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (Wordsworth Classics)
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