Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 458
*Eton. Fashionable boys’ preparatory school, located near Windsor, outside London, to which the protagonist, Harry Coningsby, is sent after he loses both parents at age nine. Founded in the fifteenth century, Eton is the most prestigious public school (equivalent to an American private school) for boys in Britain. The novel portrays the school as a scenic place at which bells ring merrily as boys advance in age, while forging influential bonds of friendship that are to last lifetimes. The boys also run the famous Library at Eton, an experience intended to serve as a participatory model for governance of free institutions. Coningsby reads much, and by the age of eighteen is ready to complete his education at Cambridge University, which ranks with Oxford University as the finest institution of higher learning for the elite of British society.
Monmouth House. Magnificent mansion and residence of Coningsby’s grandfather, the Marquis of Monmouth, at which Coningsby renews his acquaintance with his grandfather, along with an assortment of uncles and aunts. Lord Monmouth tells young Coningsby to regard the house as his own. Coningsby’s own family home, Beaumanoir, is also a vast and ornate mansion in which even mundane things, such as the serving of breakfast, can evolve into a ceremonious occasion.
Forest Inn. Traveler’s hostelry in England’s Midlands region where Coningsby first makes the acquaintance of the wealthy young Jew, Sidonia, a believer in the Hegelian omnipotent individual and the omniscience of youth. Sidonia is also a firm believer in the power of intellect and Coningsby renews their acquaintance at a later dinner arranged by his grandfather at Monmouth House.
*Paris. Capital of France in which Coningsby again meets Sidonia while on vacation when he is twenty-one years old. Coningsby meets with great social success in Paris but falls in love with Edith Millbank, who is already engaged to Sidonia.
*Manchester. City in northwestern England in which Coningsby briefly lives that the novel portrays as a center of the country’s Industrial Revolution and a beacon of technological progress, as symbolized by the fact that Coningsby’s bedroom is lighted by gas. Coningsby finds much to admire in Manchester.
Hellingsley. Estate adjoining Monmouth that Lord Monmouth dreams of owning that is bought out from under him by the wealthy manufacturer Oliver Millbank, who represents the new British aristocracy of merit, talent, and industrial-based wealth. The purchase also gives Millbank control of a parliamentary seat in the next election.
Darlford. Constituency in which Coningsby stands for election to Parliament, at his grandfather’s suggestion. The novel ends with his election, which places him on the threshold of public life as a symbol of a new generation of political leaders.
Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 251
Bivona, Daniel. “Disraeli’s Political Trilogy and the Antinomic Structure of Imperial Desire.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 22, no. 3 (Spring, 1989): 305-325. Sees Coningsby as addressing the problem of how to join aristocrats and bourgeoisie so as to renew England while maintaining a stable hierarchy. Views the answer provided in the novel—Coningsby’s marriage to Edith—as a form of imperialism.
Cazamian, Louis. “Disraeli: Social Toryism.” In The Social Novel in England, 1830-1850. Boston: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1973. Places Disraeli’s political trilogy—Coningsby, Sybil, and Tancred—in the context of his political position of social Toryism. Refers to Coningsby as a “hybrid,” part political tract, part “fashionable novel.”
Edelman, Maurice. “A Political Novel: Disraeli Sets a Lively Pace.” Times Literary Supplement, August 7, 1959, 10-11. Presents Coningsby as a political novel still read more than one hundred years after its publication. Explores the novel’s strong characters, some of whom are shown to reflect Disraeli’s own situations and concerns.
Masefield, Muriel. Peacocks and Primroses: A Survey of Disraeli’s Novels. London: Geoffrey Bles, 1953. Contains two chapters on Coningsby written for an audience not familiar with Disraeli’s works. Provides plot, lengthy quotations from the novel, background historical information, and identifications of characters with historical figures.
O’Kell, Robert. “Disraeli’s Coningsby: Political Manifesto or Psychological Romance?” Victorian Studies 23, no. 1 (Autumn, 1979): 57-78. Believes Coningsby is much more similar to Disraeli’s earlier romance novels than is often accepted. Presents political portions of the novel as secondary to the theme of personal identity.
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