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2019 Group Reads - Archives > New Grub Street- Background

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message 1: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2786 comments Mod
Please post any information about New Grub Street or the author George Gissing in this thread.
I will be posting the reading schedule in a week's time.

message 2: by Trev (new)

Trev | 294 comments I have read about a third of George Gissing's 23 novels all of which have been worth reading. He seems to be more widely appreciated now in countries other than his birthplace judging by the visitors they have at the small commemorative centre run by the George Gissing Trust. Here is a link to that centre which provides a brief overview of the author and his works.

message 3: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2786 comments Mod
Thank you, Trevor. I have read one of his books so far, Born in Exile, but have three on my bookshelf.

message 4: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2786 comments Mod
Here is the blurb from the back of the Penguin version of the novel:

In New Grub Street George Gissing re-created a microcosm of London's literary society as he had experienced it.

His novel is at once a major social document and a story that draws us irresistibly into the twilit world of Edwin Reardon, a struggling novelist, and his friends and acquaintances in Grub Street including Jasper Milvain, an ambitious journalist, and Alfred Yule, an embittered critic.
Here Gissing brings to life the bitter battles (fought out in obscure garrets or in the Reading Room of the British Museum) between integrity and the dictates of the market place, the miseries of genteel poverty and the damage that failure and hardship do to human personality and relationships.

message 5: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2786 comments Mod
About George Gissing (1857 to 1903), from the same book:
He was born in Wakefield, the son of a pharmacist, and was educated there and at a Quaker school in Cheshire.
In 1872 he went on a scholarship to Owens College (now the University of Manchester), but his academically brilliant career there, where he specialized in Greek and Latin, was cut short when he stole money in an attempt to reform a young prostitute, Marianne Harrison.
After a brief imprisonment, he went to America where he had various jobs, but ended up on the verge of starvation in Chicago.
This episode in his life forms one of the best sections in New Grub Street (1891).
He returned to Europe and married Marianne Harrison, but his action turned out badly for both. After she died, he married another working class girl, which also turned out badly. He separated from her in 1897 and in 1898 he met Gabrielle Fleury. He lived with her from 1899 on in France, but couldn't legally marry her because his wife would not give him a divorce.

Between 1880, when he published his first novel Workers in the Dawn, and his death, Gissing published over twenty novels.
He was a master of sober realism, who became a respected writer though not a rich one.
He was known and admired by other writers, such as Henry James, H.G. Wells and Frederic Harrison.
Some of his other works are Born in Exile, The Nether World, The Odd Women and In the Year of Jubilee.

message 6: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  | 685 comments Mod
So sorry I was late with this, I had emergency oral surgery and on pain killers... I didn't trust my fingers, lol.

Availability: Project Gutenberg various formats

New Grub Street, realistic novel which is set in the literary and journalistic circles of 1880s London by George Gissing, published in three volumes in 1891. It portrays the intrigues and the crippling effects of poverty in the literary world.

New Grub Street contrasts the career of Edwin Reardon, a gifted but impoverished author of proven literary merit, with that of Jasper Milvain, a materially successful reviewer and literary hack. The book suggests that self-advertising affords a writer a more certain route to success than does talent.

New Grub Street is the only one of George Gissing’s two dozen novels never to have gone out of print, and has long been recognized as the most important novel of the nineteenth century on the subject of the writing professions. Indeed, no novel in the English tradition even remotely approximates the thoroughness, sophistication, and clear-sightedness with which New Grub Street explores the social and economic contexts in which writing, publishing, and reading take place.

New Grub Street is one of a very few novels which deal with the difficulties of the work life, and with the systematic distortions of literary production caused by marketplace conditions. Gissing wrote the novel in two months in the autumn of 1890, at the pace of nearly 4,000 words a day, Reardon's rate. It was published as a three-volume work, with the second volume arguably a little padded. In this and in several other ways, New Grub Street may be said to be a meta-novel, fictionalizing its author and the processes of its own creation. Gissing was 33 at the time of its publication, the author of eight previous novels, and he had rejected chances to tutor and write for periodicals in order to continue writing fiction. The economic fates of Gissing's previous novels resemble those of his hero's: his first book, Workers in the Dawn, was published in 1880 at his own expense; The Unclassed was sold in 1884 for thirty pounds, Isabel Claredon in 1886 for only fifteen, Demos in 1886 for 100 pounds, and New Grub, his best success thus far, for 150 pounds.

He corrected proofs in February 1891, and wrote to his brother, "I am astonished to find how well it reads. There are savage truths in it." New Grub Street was the first of his books to achieve a second impression, but unfortunately, he had sold it outright to Smith, Elder and Co.

“Few novels detail with such sparkling, bitter intelligence the emotional and financial toll that creating and publishing fiction can take on a writer’s life. Yet, for all its bleakness, Gissing’s satire remains a compelling read and a bracing book to teach, because it captures, like no other Victorian novel, the strains of innovation and enervation that alternately inspire and beleaguer its weary idealists and cunning pragmatists. New Grub Street has fresh relevance for us, as Stephen Arata’s skilful introduction makes clear, because all its major themes—the pressures of commerce, financial precariousness, dwindling interest in literature and print journalism, and concern about maintaining a serious forum for art and ideas—are, if anything, even more urgent matters today.” — Christopher Lane, Northwestern University, author of Hatred and Civility: The Antisocial Life in Victorian England (2004)

message 7: by Rosemarie, Moderator (new)

Rosemarie | 2786 comments Mod
Thanks for the info, Gem. I hope you feel better soon!

message 8: by Gem , Moderator (new)

Gem  | 685 comments Mod
Rosemarie wrote: "Thanks for the info, Gem. I hope you feel better soon!"

My pleasure. Thankfully I'm at a place where, not entirely comfortable, I don't need the pain pills. Those things are evil, I felt high for days and not at all myself.

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