Tressell's novel is about survival on the underside of the Edwardian Twilight, about exploitative employment when the only safety nets are charity, workhouse, and grave. Following the fortunes of a group of painters and decorators and their families, and the attempts to rouse their political will by the Socialist visionary Frank Owen, the audiobook is both a highly entertaining story and a passionate appeal for a fairer way of life. It asks questions that are still being asked today: why do yourwages bear no relation to the value of your work? Why do fat cats get richer when you don't? Tressell's answers are "The Great Money Trick" and the "philanthropy" of an unenlightened workforce, who give away their rights and aspirations to a decent life so freely.
Intellectually enlightening, deeply moving, and gloriously funny (complete with exploding clergyman), The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists is a book that changes lives.
© and (P)2004 CSA Telltapes Ltd
"A brilliant and very funny book." (The Spectator)
I would never have chosen this book but for a friend recommending it to me as being a good read many years ago. In all those intervening years I never came across it - until spotting it on audible.
The only reason I give it 4 stars rather than five is that it is an abridged version and although I have never read the unabridged book I could tell it was abridged by the way the story seemed to jump in places leaving little story threads unfinished. To be honest I simply can't understand why publishers produce abridged versions of books - but I suppose that little debate is out of place here.
Abridgment aside though - don't be put off downloading this. My friend was right - it's a gem! I cannot believe how little the life of the common man has changed since this was written and just how relevant and fresh the message contained in the book still is. For the first time I understand the underlying principles of socialism and feel so sad that despite its high ideals it seems so unattainable.
Don't get me wrong - despite its theme, this book is not all serious, in fact it's highly entertaining, and Tony Robinson (Baldric from Blackadder) was the ideal choice for narrator.
This was an audio credit well spent.
Magnificently read and well paced, this audio book is a real eye opener to anyone seeking to learn of socialist motives and ideals, i can only echo that an abridged version of a book is always a shame, but i didn't feel it detracted from it too much, i highly recommend this.
My name is Mrs Eastwood. Not just Mrs! I have been virtually chairbound for the last three years and Audible books are good company
My late Father was a painter and decorator from his apprenticeship at 14 until he retired at 72. He worked during the period the book is set in and assured me that the treatment metered out by the bosses and foremen were just as described. He gave me the book to read when I was too young to understand the implications of being out of work in those days. It is a great pity it is an abridged version as the book gives a very good insight into the home lives and struggles of the 'common man' at that time. The women who cared for husbands and children on very little money are true heroines. The reasoning regarding the idealised vision of the Labour Party is very convincing - what a pity it never happened! The little comic moments must have been a great relief to the men doing such hard work. I am now 71 and can clearly remember seeing my Father pushing a barrow laden with ladders and tins of paint. He and his mate would sometimes trudge for up to 2 hours before and after work - it could not happen in this day and age but this book is a wonderfully enlightening listen.
one of those books like Lord of the Flies or 1984 that are still so relevant today
"Not a must read"
As I find reading most politically inspired books, "The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists" is an extreme view. The author portrays all the capitalists as evil and greedy and the poor suffering working class as having no options. While hailing the greatness of socialism, Tressell neglects to take into account the nature of man to be greedy and lazy as well as ignoring that people may actually want to be different, have different things, travel, change their vocation or any other objection you may have to socialism. He just kind of sweeps them under the rug with a statement about how that wouldn't be necessary or simply wouldn't happen.
The story itself moved along pretty well. The characters were well thought out although a little one dimensional. It's not a long book so it was not too much of a drag to get through but don't expect any great philosophical revelations, it's mostly socialist propaganda with very little applicable material to today's society. It's been proven that socialism doesn't work so I kind of found it a moot point.
The narrator does a very good job and I rather enjoyed his performance. I would consider listening to him again.
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