DISRAELI STOOD right outside the classical tradition of élite education, but he was from the start marinated in Eng. Lit. His father Isaac had moved from orthodox Jewry to become a literary historian and even —some have claimed-a sociologist of an erudite and unsystematic sort, and young Benjamin was let loose in his 25,000 volume library.1 Isaac was a Tory, and contributed to the anti-Jacobin cause a novel, Vaurien, ‘a smart and libellous Invective on the Leaders of the Democratick and Philosophick Partys’ which has some of the marks of his son’s style —mysterious revolutionists, ramifying conspiracies, and so on-but as a friend of Godwin and Blake he was less a Burkian ‘organic conservate’, than a remnant of Enlightenment intellectualism.2