As Elizannie has have been having a bit of a blog overload in the aftermath of May 7th, she has decided to let Clarice help out for this one. After all she should know more about History and English Lit having lectured for the WEA on both subjects [plus Popular Culture] for many years.
In a discussion with their cousin about what may come next after the May 7th result, it was decided that now history is not a compulsory subject on the school curriculum, perhaps not enough voters on Thursday realised what it was like to live in the patriarchal, capitalist society of the 19thC where money said everything about an individual down to the fact that the poor were showing God's disapproval by being poor and the rich his approval by their riches. This was further extended by having the 'deserving poor' - allowed to receive the charity of the rich [quite often the leavings from their table] and the undeserving poor. The rich were morally bound to reinvest their business profits/wages and by becoming even richer showed even more God's approval of their life style - which included of course their treatment of the poor and this would extend to the minimum wages paid to employees [dare I add zero contracts?] If an employee became ill/unable work, well basically hard luck. Obviously some sort of sinning somewhere along the line as God once again is showing his disapproval. [An awful lot of sibulance in that sentence. A bit more effort could do something with that]
To reinforce this 'God Given Right', think of the words of the third verse of 'All Things Bright and Beautiful' by Mrs Alexander. Now no longer sung in our churches, it was sung by rich and poor alike in churches up until the 1970s/80s:
The rich man in his castle,The poor man at his gate,God made them high and lowly,And ordered their estate.
This blog is also a homage to the wonderful singer and socialist, our mate Roy Bailey and his 'gigging mate' the equally wonderful but sadly late Tony Benn . They used to perform a wonderful 'gig' which we saw on many occasions, singing along in our cracked voices, which was basically the history of dissent with songs provided by Roy and narration by Tony. Luckily everyone can still enjoy and learn from their inspiration by following this link .
So it was decided that perhaps a reading list should be provided of 19thC and early 20thC novels which would provide a fictional but accurate overview of the differences between rich and poor in this country, which was becoming more affluent in the light of the industrial revolution. But that affluence was not shared by all who produced it. To make a profit three parts are needed: production; investment; labour. The suppliers of the first two were enriched exponentially, the suppliers of the third actually became worse off it their living conditions and welfare is taken into account. And because there was an ever increasing pool of labour [sound familiar] due to the agricultural revolution with workers flooding into the newly growing industrial towns from the countryside, any industrial revolt would be pretty pointless.
Clarice has been awful lazy of late. So she promises that she will go through the list and 'review' each novel in turn in a socio historical way. And so she should. You will notice no Marx is included. Although he may be referred to in the footnotes... but only as are other 19th/20thC commentators and politicians.
So this is the list, no particular order, no particular preference:
Mary Barton Elizabeth Gaskell
Shirley Charlotte Bronte
A Christmas Carol Charles Dickens
Felix Holt George Eiliot
Sybil or Two Nations Benjamin Disraeli
Hard Times Charles Dickens
The Nether World George Gissing
A Child of the Jago Arthur Morrison
Dombey and Son Charles Dickens
The Ragged Trousered
Philanthropists Robert Tressell
Love on the Dole Walter Greenwood
People of the Abyss Jack London
Some, more modern, but giving a good historical overview:
Rape of the Fair Country Raymond Cordell
How Green was my Valley Richard Llewellyn
Animal Farm George Orwell
Fame is the Spur Howard Spring
Blog dedicated to all those Labour Activists who worked so hard in the weeks leading up to 7th May 2015 including Roy Bailey and Elizabeth Ann Mills. It was not in vain.