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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists [Hardcover]

Robert Tressell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1987
A year in the life of a group of painters and decorators in the town of Mugsborough at the turn of the century. Haunted by fears of unemployment, the men struggle to keep their jobs at any cost, but some of them begin to realize that their poverty is neither "natural" nor "just".


Product details

  • Hardcover: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Lawrence & Wishart Ltd (1 Jan 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0853151520
  • ISBN-13: 978-0853151524
  • Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 12 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (405 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 765,082 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

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 the Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

'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. 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' is both a master piece of wit and political passion and one of the most authentic novels of English working class life ever written.

“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.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
266 of 277 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A description of a journey through hell! 19 April 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
I first read the "Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" around 1947. It aroused such an interest in me that the story has remained fresh in my memory all of my life. I am now nearly 73 years old. It has been described as the first novel written by a working class person. The description of working class life in such a rich country is a permanent blot on the history of Great Britain. However Tressell writes with such humour that one minute you want to cry and the next explode with laughter. As a result of reading Tressell's book I became a Socialist. Nothing in my life has caused me to change my mind. The characters that Tressell described at the beginning of the twentieth century live on today. Read this book and I guarantee that your thinking will be radically affected. It was the only book that he ever wrote. Tragically, he never lived to see it published. Some people say that it won the election for the Labour Party immediately after the war.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars RTP 10 April 2012
Format:Paperback
I am ashamed to say that I have only recently read the unabridged version of Robert Tressell's Ragged Trousered Philantropist [RTP]. Many years ago I read my father's copy of the original Penguin edition that was an abridged version that had previously been abridged. Having lived in and walked the streets of Mugsborough [Hastings] all my life I felt almost duty bound to read it. I began with slightly gritted teeth knowing if I abandoned it before the end I would be reluctant to start over any time soon. As it turned out I found it engrossing, I didn't want it to end, it was one of those rare books I wanted to live in.
There is so much here. It's political message is, in a sense, blunted in the twenty first century. The solutions it offers were it least in part manifested in the post war settlement of the Attlee government that has been under attack since the 1980's. But the overarching questions that it asks -What are the causes of poverty, why do those oppressed willingly accept the values of the oppressors, why do they not rise up in revolt and take issue with the system that disadvantages them, remain vibrant.
On another level this is an historic record of the early twentieth century written from the ground up with cast iron authenticity. The author captures enough detail of his surroundings and of the characters to make it believable, touchable and easily recognisable. Tressell himself was a workman, his richly detailed account of working class life in Edwardian England is drawn from first hand experience. His understanding of human nature and its distortions caused by poverty were not imagined but drawn from his everyday experience.. It seems nothing short of miraculous that under these conditions he was able to write such an insightful account of what he experienced.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the money trick 18 Nov 2010
By Richard
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I found out about this book at a union meeting a couple of colleagues were discussing it, i thought it sounded very interesting, boy was i surprised, basically the whole book could have been written yesterday, there ae so many things that happend back when this was written, that are still going on today.
The chapter called the money trick puts in to easy to understand way how workers were and are exploited by bosses, i have told many other colleagues about this book, and more often than not about the money trick, this is a fantastic insight in to days gone by, and a must read for trade unionist and anyone who feels they are exploited by bosses.
Definately a must have book.
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63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This makes powerful reading. My sense from the start was that the story wasn't fiction outside the names of those peopling it, but in fact the author's own experience of life endured by the working class in England at the turn of 1900. That in itself made it fascinating.

At times I felt the author's rants about the evils of capitalism and the working class being their own worst enemy tiresome (if true), but then I realised his frustration with the mindset of those he spent his working life with would have made him feel the need to rave. What could be worse than spending your every working day in the company of miserable forelock-tuggers, men who at once idolised and hated their masters, and hated themselves even more. We see much of this frustration in the character Owen and his contempt for his fellow workers for regarding their state of starvation and wretched poverty as a privilege and are fiercely committed to preserving the system that keeps them downtrodden. Kudos to the reader who wrote: 'Not only is capitalism unsustainable but immoral.' One need only look at how far downhill the world had gone (as capitalism has gained a surer foothold) in the hundred years since this book was written to know that. More than ever people find no shame in stepping on (or even stomping on) each other to gain an economic advantage.

When a used-to-be Socialist tells Barrington 'enlightenment will never be brought about by arguing with people,' I couldn't have agreed more. While Barrington took this on board as dishearteningly true, delightfully, it didn't take the fight out of him. If one is passionate about changing injustice, even against the odds, one can't help but go on fighting the fight to inform and educate others.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent read
An excellent read with many of the topic discussed still being as prevalent today as they were in the writers time.

Progress hasn't been made in this respect.
Published 18 hours ago by Martyn
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
I first read this book over 30 years ago and was impressed with it then so I now have my own copy to read again. I hope this is taught in schools, if not, it should be.
Published 3 days ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists
Content is sadly very much up to date! Read and learn! What else can I say! Just read it and make up your own mind!
Published 5 days ago by S. Ebert-forbes
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
I had already read the paper version of this book about 5 years ago, unfortunately the person who borrowed it mislaid it, so being able to get it via Kindle version was great as I... Read more
Published 7 days ago by Mrs. Jean Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a brilliant book!
This book is not just a good story, it's a brilliant study of human nature. I'm amazed at Robert Tressell's understanding of human weakness. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Jackie M
3.0 out of 5 stars A Bit Slow
I am 500 pages into the book of 600 odd but I just feel uninspired to finish it - what it has said over the 500 pages could easily have been said in 100 or so. Read more
Published 16 days ago by Liam Michael O'Shea
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book
It's uncomfortable reading because you'll recognise the behaviour of the principal characters, and how they unconsciously conspire to preserve a status quo that works to nobody's... Read more
Published 17 days ago by Peter Mccormack
5.0 out of 5 stars Stupendous
A great read from front to back. I could not put it down. Down to earth, witty and sad. This book is a masterpiece. I will recommend it to all my friends.
Published 18 days ago by MR GRAHAM K WHEELER
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I'd heard a lot about this book - I,ve now finished it and it has helped in my understanding of how, and why, there was need for change. although the greed of some has not changed
Published 21 days ago by Alan Hankinson
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
This is a book that everyone should read. Trouble is current times are just being rehashed all over again. Nothing changes, rich stay rich and poor stay poor!
Published 21 days ago by EW
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