The Fiction of George Gissing

A Critical Analysis


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About the Book

Most of George Gissing’s 23 novels have a certain air of autobiography, despite Gissing’s frequent arguments that his fictional plots bear little resemblance to his own life and experiences. Starting with Workers in the Dawn (1880), almost all of Gissing’s fictional works are set in his own time period of late–Victorian England, and five of his first six novels focus on the working-class poor that Gissing would have encountered frequently during his early writing career.
While most recent criticism focuses on Gissing’s works as biographical narratives, this work approaches Gissing’s novels as purely imaginative works of art, giving him the benefit of the doubt regardless of how well his books seem to match up with the events of his own life. By analyzing important themes in his novels and recognizing the power of the artist’s imagination, especially through the critical works of Coleridge, Wordsworth, Shelley, and Keats, the author reveals how Gissing’s novels present a lived feel of the world Gissing knew firsthand. The author asserts that, at most, Gissing used his personal experiences as a starting point to transform his own life and thoughts into stories that explain the social, personal, and cultural significance of such experiences.

About the Author(s)

Lewis D. Moore, a retired professor of English, taught at the University of the District of Columbia in Washington for thirty years. He is also the author of Meditations on America: John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee Series and Other Fiction (1994).

Bibliographic Details

Lewis D. Moore
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 236
Bibliographic Info: bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3509-8
eISBN: 978-0-7864-5215-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vi

Preface      1

Introduction      5

1. Gissing and the Imagination      9

Part One: The Social Imagination

2. The Triumph of Mediocrity: Gissing’s New Grub Street      21

3. Deception, Violence, and the Criminal Act      29

4. New People: George Gissing’s Rising Classes      40

5. The Loss of Innocence: Progress, Science, and Technology      50

6. The Failed Triangle: Marriage, Family, and Children      57

7. Politics, Work, and Business      71

8. Education Old and New      82

Part Two: The Personal Imagination

9. Money as Language and Idea      93

10. Discovery and Disintegration: Figures of Disquiet      104

11. Romantic Love, Sexuality, and Convention      114

12. The Dubious Sex: Women in George Gissing’s Fiction      123

13. Conflicted Identities: The Individual and Society      132

Part Three: The Cultural Imagination

14. Against the Modern: Rural Idylls and Urban Realities      145

15. Gissing and Morley Roberts: The Life of Writing in Late-Victorian England      156

16. Nationalism, Imperialism, and the Idea of England      167

17. Religion and Morality      175

18. The Natural World in Human Time      185

19. The Late-Victorian Detective      197

20. Frontiers, Edges, and Boundaries      203

21. Conclusion      210

Bibliography      213

Index      219

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