Benjamin Disraeli

  • Elliot Engel
  • Margaret F. King
Part of the Macmillan Studies in Victorian Literature book series (MSVL)


Benjamin Disraeli’s Young England trilogy of the 1840s — Coningsby (1844), Sybil (1845) and Tancred (1847) — usually serves as the alpha and, often, the omega as well for any study of Disraeli’s fiction. But in correctly regarding that trilogy as Disraeli’s magnum opus, a symphony of interwoven Romantic and Victorian motifs, critics have tended to treat his first novel, Vivian Grey (1827), and his six succeeding (though hardly successful) novels of the 1830s as a sort of prelude, in which can be heard a gradually evolving harmony between the same Romantic and Victorian strains: between individual aspiration and social consciousness, between an exotic vision of what might be and a realistic appraisal of what is. Donald Stone, in his recent study The Romantic Impulse in Victorian Fiction, best expresses this view of the evolution of Disraeli’s art: ‘By linking the Byronic will with the Shelleyan sympathetic imagination Disraeli attempted to show that Romantic convictions could serve the public interest.’1


Artistic Control Love Story Realistic Appraisal Lyric Poetry Moral Corruption 
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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    Donald Stone, The Romantic Impulse in Victorian Fiction (Harvard University Press, 1980) pp. 80–1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 1.
    John Holloway’s The Victorian Sage: Studies in Argument (London: Archon, 1962) devotes a chapter to Disraeli (pp. 86–110) and analyses briefly most of Disraeli’s novels from the 1830s.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Morris E. Speare, The Political Novel: Its Development in England and America ( New York: Oxford University Press, 1924 ) p. 62.Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    Susanne Howe, Wilhelm Meister and His English Kinsmen (Columbia University Press, 1930) p. 184.Google Scholar
  5. 9.
    Bernard R. Jerman, The Young Disraeli (Princeton University Press, 1960) p. 96. Of Disraeli’s first four novels, The Young Duke is the only one excluded from Disraeli’s ‘secret history of my feelings’.Google Scholar
  6. 15.
    Leslie Marchand, Byron’s Poetry (Harvard University Press, 1968) p. 134.Google Scholar
  7. 17.
    Richard A. Levine, Benjamin Disraeli ( New York: Twayne, 1968 ) p. 51.Google Scholar
  8. 18.
    See R. W. Stewart’s Disraeli’s Novels Reviewed, 1826–1968 ( Methuen, NJ: Scarecrow, 1975 ) p. 146.Google Scholar
  9. 22.
    Gordon Hall Gerould, The Patterns of English and American Fiction ( Boston: Little, Brown, 1942 ) p. 325.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elliot Engel and Margaret F. King 1984

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elliot Engel
  • Margaret F. King

There are no affiliations available

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