When we think of Benjamin Disraeli (1804–81), one of two images inevitably first springs to mind: either Disraeli the two-time prime minister of Britain, or Disraeli the author of major novels such as Coningsby, Sybil, and Endymion. But were these two sides of his persona entirely separate? After all, the recurring fantasy structures in Disraeli’s fictions bear a striking similarity to the imaginative ways in which he shaped his political career.
Disraeli: The Romance of Politics provides a remarkable biographical portrait of Disraeli as both a statesman and a storyteller. Drawing extensively on Disraeli’s published letters and speeches, as well as on archival sources in the United Kingdom, Robert O’Kell illuminates the intimate, symbiotic relationship between his fiction and his politics. His investigation shines new light on all of Disraeli’s novels, his two governments, his imperialism, and his handling of the Irish Church Disestablishment Crisis of 1868 and the Eastern Question in the 1870s.
“Disraeli: The Romance of Politics casts new light on the complex interrelationship of Disraeli’s political career to his novels and controversial psychology. Robert O’Kell’s knowledge of Disraeli’s life, fictional works, and politics is eminently sound, and his use of primary materials and secondary sources evinces a long-standing familiarity with Disraeli and his milieu. This is altogether original and exemplary scholarship, written in fluid, jargon-free prose that is a pleasure to read.”--Michel Pharand, Director, The Disraeli Project, Queen’s University
“Highly recommended.” --E.J. Jenkins, Choice Magazine, vol 51:02:2013
Now available at Toronto University Press in paperback