Monday, March 8, 2021

The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell (DNF)

Enough! I’m throwing this on the “did not finish” (DNF) pile and moving on.


In the preface, Tressell – pen name for Robert Noonan, writes:


I designed to show the conditions relating from poverty and unemployment: to expose the futility of the measures taken to deal with them and to indicate what I believe to be the only real remedy, namely – Socialism.


I was less than enthused, but I am not afraid of reading opposing world views; I’ve done it before, and even liked a few, so I continued on. I was encouraged, when later in the preface Tressell says:


The Philanthropists’ is not a treatise or essay, but a novel. My main object was to write a readable story full of human interest and based on the happenings of everyday life, the subject of Socialism being treated incidentally. 


Perfect! I can live with that, and I’ll even read with an open mind. Make your case Mr. Tressell. He also promised a “humorous side” to the story. Even better!


250 pages later, very little story, no humor, and nearly endless propaganda based on clichés, anecdotes, and Straw-Man arguments. 


I’ve read socialists before – most notably Orwell. But whereas Orwell writes a fascinating story, to subtly profess his ideology, Tressell overtly asserts his ideology, thinly veiled as a story – not at all convincingly or interestingly.


So, enough!


Out of 177 novels, this in only the fourth DNF.


  1. That's too bad--but interesting, though, because I've occasionally thought about reading this.

    1. I wouldn't tell anyone NOT to read it...but for me, I just wasn't interested in continuing.

  2. I just DNFed a book this weekend too. Sometimes, you're just not the right audience for a book, and that's totally fine.

    1. Absolutely. It's rare that I give up. I have had a few surprises where I was unimpressed for 90% and then wowed at the end, but I could tell that wasn't going to be the case here. Too many books, too little time to waste on what is not for me.

    2. It's fairly rare for me too. I maybe DNF a book once every year or two... but I think that's because I'm pretty good at figuring out what books I'm going to like, anymore. And exactly, there are too many good books I WILL enjoy to waste time on one I'm not.


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