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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell

Clearly frustrated at the refusal of his contemporaries to recognise the iniquity of society, Tressell’s cast of hypocritical Christians, exploitative capitalists and corrupt councillors provide a backdrop for his main target — the workers who think that a better life is “not for the likes of them”. Hence the title of the book; Tressell paints the workers as “philanthropists” who throw themselves into back-breaking work for poverty wages in order to generate profit for their masters.

The hero of the book, Frank Owen, is a socialist who believes that the capitalist system is the real source of the poverty he sees all around him. In vain he tries to convince his fellow workers of his world view, but finds that their education has trained them to distrust their own thoughts and to rely on those of their “betters”. Much of the book consists of conversations between Owen and the others, or more often of lectures by Owen in the face of their jeering; this was presumably based on Tressell’s own experiences.(Summary by Tadhg)

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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists


Robert Tressell


1 An Imperial Banquet. A Philosophical Discussion. The Mysterious Stranger. Britons Never shall be Slaves 2 Nimrod: a Mighty Hunter before the Lord 3 The Financiers 4 The Placard 5 The Clock case 6 It is not My Crime 7 The Exterminating Machines 8 The Cap on the Stairs 9 Who is to Pay? 10 The Long Hill 11 Hands and Brains 12 The Letting of the Room 13 Penal Servitude and Death 14 Three Children. The Wages of Intelligence 15 The Undeserving Persons and the Upper and Nether Millstones 16 True Freedom 17 The Rev. John Starr 18 The Lodger 19 The Filling of the Tank 20 The Forty Thieves. The Battle: Brigands versus Bandits 21 The Reign of Terror. The Great Money Trick 22 The Phrenologist 23 The 'Open air' 24 Ruth 25 The Oblong 26 The Slaughter 27 The March of the Imperialists 28 The Week before Christmas 29 The Pandorama 30 The Brigands hold a Council of War 31 The Deserter 32 The Veteran 33 The Soldier's Children 34 The Beginning of the End 35 Facing the 'Problem' 36 The OBS 37 A Brilliant Epigram 38 The Brigands' Cave 39 The Brigands at Work 40 Vive la System! 41 The Easter Offering... Continue reading book >>

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