New Grub Street (1891), generally regarded as Gissing's finest novel, is the story of the daily lives and broken dreams of men and women forced to earn a living by the pen. With vivid realism it tells of a group of novelists, journalists, and scholars caught in the literary and cultural crisis that hit Britain in the closing years of the nineteenth century, as universal education, popular journalism, and mass communication began to leave their mark on the life of intellectuals.
Projecting a strong sense of the London in which his characters struggle, Gissing also illuminates `the valley of the shadow of books', where the spirit of alienation that created modernism was already stirring.
About the Author
George Robert Gissing (/ˈɡɪsɪŋ/; 22 November 1857 – 28 December 1903) was an English novelist who published 23 novels between 1880 and 1903. Gissing also worked as a teacher and tutor throughout his life. He published his first novel, Workers in the Dawn, in 1880. His best known novels, which are published in modern editions, include The Nether World (1889), New Grub Street (1891), and The Odd Women (1893).
Gissing's early novels were not well received, but he achieved greater recognition in the 1890s, both in England and overseas. The increase in popularity was linked not just to his novels, but to the short stories he wrote in this period and his friendships with influential and respected literary figures such as the journalist Henry Norman, author J. M. Barrie and writer and critic Edmund Gosse.
By the end of the 19th century, critics placed him alongside Thomas Hardy and George Meredith as one of the three leading novelists in England. George Orwell was an admirer and in a 1943 Tribune article called Gissing "perhaps the best novelist England has produced". He believed his "real masterpieces" were the "three novels, The Odd Women, Demos, and New Grub Street, and his book on Dickens. [The novels'] central theme can be stated in three words - "not enough money."
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