Read New Grub Street by George Gissing Online


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,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....

Title : New Grub Street
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780140430325
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 560 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

New Grub Street Reviews

  • Jeffrey Keeten
    2019-04-16 04:19

    “That is one of the bitter curses of poverty; it leaves no right to be generous.”George Gissing was a young man on his way. He had impressive scores at the Oxford Local Examinations, and all was going well until he fell in lust with a young orphaned prostitute named Marianne Helen Harrison or Nell. He gave her money to keep her from plying her trade and when he ran out of money he stole from his fellow students. He was caught, expelled, and convicted serving a month of hard labor at Belle Vue Gaol. What a promising start for a young novelist. I'd probably have twenty books written and published if I'd been so foolish to get hooked up with a woman of questionable morals and went to jail because of it. When Gissing got out he married Nell and their relationship became the basis for his first novel. Gissing was very bitter about having to make a living teaching and tutoring to support his writing. "According to his pupil Austin Harrison, from 1882 Gissing made a decent living by teaching, and tales of his fight with poverty, including some of his own remembrances, were untrue. The issue of his supposed poverty may be explained by Gissing's attitude to teaching, which he felt robbed him of valuable writing time which he limited as much as possible and by poor management of his finances."George GissingI see from other reviews that people were making comparisons of Gissing with Dickens, but to me the book was more modern than a Dickens more like reading Henry James. I knew as I read the book that the chance for a happy ending was beyond impossible. I would have been disappointed if Gissing had decided to manufacture a happy ever after conclusion. It would have rang untrue, like a bell with a crack, and certainly would have made unsound all the wonderful work he does in this book to show the devastating mental effects of uncertain income and the fickle chance of fate. Grub Street, London The setting of the novel is Grub Street. It was a street close to London's impoverished Moorfields district that ran from Fore Street east of St Giles-without-Cripplegate north to Chiswell Street. Famous for its concentration of impoverished 'hack writers', aspiring poets, and low-end publishers and booksellers, Grub Street existed on the margins of London's journalistic and literary scene. It was pierced along its length with narrow entrances to alleys and courts, many of which retained the names of early signboards. Its bohemian society was set among the impoverished neighbourhood's low-rent flophouses, brothels, and coffeehouses. Now as long as a young writer could keep a couple of coppers in his pocket imagine the quick, all inclusive education of the world he could obtain spending a few months on Grub Street.This book is about writing and the battle with poverty in 1880s London. There are really two main characters Edwin Reardon and Jasper Milvain. Edwin writes serious novels and views any sensational writing, to make money, as something he is incapable of. He has a wife and child and as the novel progresses we see him slide farther and farther into the grip of poverty. Jasper Milvain sees writing as a means to an end. His reputation is only of concern to him as that it provides him more opportunities to make more money. He is always scheming and trying to position himself to achieve a better position. He really is the exact opposite of Reardon. I didn't despise Milvain, although I never liked him and certainly would never feel comfortable trusting him. I was equally as frustrated with Reardon's inability to make changes that would have at least insured that he could keep his wife loyal to him and his life above the poverty line. Interesting enough Gissing did make the decision to do what was necessary to stay out of poverty, so one wonders if he wished he'd taken a perceived artistically more honorable route of sticking with just writing and enduring the poverty.Reardon is afraid of poverty and yet ends up feeling more secure falling back into it than he does fighting to stay above it. "The difference," he went on, "between the man with money and the man without is simply this: the one thinks, 'How shall I use my life?' and the other, 'How shall I keep myself alive?' A physiologist ought to be able to discover some curious distinction between the brain of a person who has never given a thought to the means of subsistence, and that of one who has never know a day free from such cares. There must be some special cerebral development representing the mental anguish kept up by poverty." Milvain is always working the angles. He is clever and wants everyone to like him, but is always looking for a way to elevate himself in the esteem of others sometimes at the cost of his friends. "Jasper, whose misrepresentation was willful, though not maliciously so, also fell into silence; he did not believe that his conversations with Amy Reardon had seriously affected the course of events, but he knew that he had often said things to her in private which would scarcely have fallen from his lips if her husband had been present---little deprecatory phrases, wrong rather in tone than in terms, which came of his irresistible desire to assume superiority whenever it was possible. He, too, was weak, but with quite another kind of weakness than Reardon's. His was the weakness of vanity, which sometimes leads a man to commit treacheries of which he would believe himself incapable. Self-accused, he took refuge in the pretense of misconception, which again was a betrayal of littleness." There is a side theme working in the novel about the emancipation of women. A new law allows women to inherit, and over the course of the novel we see the importance of that law at work. Women are suddenly in a position to make different decisions and do not have to spend the rest of their life under the thumb of a father, brother or son if they are lucky enough to be bequeathed money and means of their own. after Gissing's second marriage ended with his wife committed to an insane asylum he became good friends with Clara Collet. Miss Collet seems to have been in love with Gissing, but there is no evidence of the feelings being reciprocated. Clara was an outspoken advocate of advancing the pay of women and I feel she influenced those sections of the novel regarding the emancipation of women. Clara Collet, a woman who made a difference. The characters in this novel with a change of clothes, an iPhone, and a brush up on modern language are the same people populating our lives today. People, regardless of the time period, exhibit the same foibles and strengths. They have the same desires, the same troubles, and the same insecurities. There are no lazy people in this book. Everyone is striving the best they can to be successful, but pride plays a big hand during the course of this book and opportunities are lost and irrevocable things are said. Deception, misinterpretation and debilitating anxiety are the worms that wiggle through the plot of this novel. It will have such an influence on you, as the reader, that you will find yourself squirming with thoughts of your own personal defects and failings.

  • Glenn Russell
    2019-04-15 05:05

    "Literature nowadays is a trade. Putting aside men of genius, who may succeed by mere cosmic force, your successful man of letters is your skillful tradesman. He thinks first and foremost of the markets; when one kind of goods begins to go off slackly, he is ready with something new and appetizing. He knows perfectly all the possible sources of income."New Grub Street - George GissingUnforgettable 500-page British classic set in 1880s London about the men and women working as part of the literary hub of New Grub Street. Indeed, we encounter some of the most articulate, refined, educated people in society; however, since these genteel men and women of letters lack the benefit of either family fortune or private wealth, they must continually use their pens to stave off grueling poverty and starvation as they attempt to stake their claim in the world of books and publishing. Not an easy task even when their writing is going well, a fact author George Gissing (1857-1903) knew first-hand since circumstances hurled him into much the same plight; matter of fact, his earliest published novel, Workers in the Dawn, hit bookstores in 1880, when Gissing was a mere twenty-three years old, a semi-autobiographical three-volume novel recounting the unhappy life of a struggling, half-starved London artist married to a prostitute. Incidentally, when the author read the first book review of Workers he became so outraged he described literary critics as “unprincipled vagabonds.” Ooooo, George! If you were alive today, I hope you wouldn’t lump me among those nasty, filthy English cads.Anyway, New Grub Street is also a “triple-decker,” that is, a novel in three volumes, which was standard fare at the time - almost predictably, the reason for this format was money: rather than purchasing novels, the reading public typically used circulating libraries and these circulating libraries could make a separate charge for each volume checked out. One of the main characters, Jasper Milvain, bemoans how such a demanding structure is “a triple-headed monster, sucking the blood of English novelists.” And Milvain isn’t even a novelist; rather, as we come to know in much more detail, his literary focus is entirely practical and utilitarian – acknowledging his turn of mind and skill level, he writers columns for literary periodicals.As counterpoise to all these literary folk, there’s old John Yule, a wealthy retired merchant who would very much like to see literary production abolished since by his reckoning the writing and especially the reading of books makes men weak, flabby creatures with ruined eyes and dyspeptic stomachs, men who should spend their leisure hours not reading but out in open-air exercise. But, alas, John is fighting a losing battle since in 1880s England reading has caught on like wildfire – books, journals, magazines and newspapers are all the rage.One of the novel’s overarching themes is the hierarchy of social class. A prime example is John’s brother Alfred Yule, a literary man and journalist, who disgraced his family by taking a humble servant woman for his wife. Then when Mrs. Yule gave birth to daughter Marian, Alfred forbade his wife to speak to her daughter since he was horrified at the prospect that Marian might be infected with his wife’s faulty grammar and hackneyed diction. No, no, no – as soon as humanly possible, Marian was separated from her mother and sent off to a day school. Then, some years later, after hearing her mother’s grammatical errors, young Marian innocently asked her father, “Why doesn’t mother speak as properly as we do?”Along somewhat the same lines, in conversation with his hyper class-conscious wife Amy, young novelist Edwin Reardon stresses the biggest difference in all the world: that the man with money thinks: “How should I use my life?” and the man without money thinks: “How shall I keep myself alive?” Reardon goes on to ruminate that if he should fail to make a great name for himself as a novelist, how such a fate would be a grievous disappointment to Amy. However, when we first encounter the novelist around age thirty, the promise of fame is very much alive as he did write and have published two marginally successful novels prior to his marriage. But shortly thereafter, as we read further on, a crisis is at hand: sensitive, high-principled Edwin Reardon encounters the ever-looming nightmare for a poor novelist attempting to make money in order to support a family by the publication of his work: writer’s block. In many respects, the drama of Edwin Reardon’s personal and artistic integrity is at the heart of the heart of Gissing’s compelling tale.Another writer with integrity is Reardon’s friend Harold Biffen, a habitually half-starved scarecrow of a man who has a vision for a realistic novel, a novel depicting life as it truly is, specifically, the grimy nitty-gritty of an everyday drudge, in his case, a grocer living hardscrabble in the poorest section of the city. This literary skeleton-man despises romantic novels with their heroes performing predictable heroic acts, so it is something of an irony that Biffen performs the most singularly heroic act in the entire novel. Listening to Harold Biffen’s philosophy on realism and the realistic novel, I hear echoes of this very three volume George Gissing, a novel realistic in the extreme, reminding me much more of the Paris destitute depicted in Émile Zola’s The Gin Palace than any Charles Dickens misty-eyed yarn with a happy ending. At one point, a demoralized, forlorn Edwin Reardon shares with Harold Biffen the highpoints of his life, a time prior to his marriage when he was traveling. As he relates: “The best moments of life are those when we contemplate beauty in the purely artistic spirit – objectively. I have had such moments in Greece and Italy; times when I was a free spirit, utterly remote from the temptations and harassings of sexual emotion. What we call love is mere turmoil. Who wouldn’t release himself from it forever, if the possibility offered?” The novelist’s statement accords with Edmund Burke’s philosophy of the sublime - the magnificent experience of beauty and overwhelming majesty out in nature, so distinct from the toil of even a creative expression such as novel writing, an endeavor forever bound to the pressures of schedule and the anxiety of possible rejection. Also, Edwin’s words speak to English society as a whole in the nineteenth century, where the vast majority of men, women and even children were condemned to a life of unrelenting toil, forever bound to the wheel of Ixian, slaving from dawn to dusk as if they were nothing more than beasts of burden.Yet again another aspect of nineteenth century British society takes center stage with the unfolding events in the life of Marion Yule. How free is Marion and how eligible is she as a lover and future wife? The answers to these questions are closely tied to how much money, if any, she will receive in her inheritance from her rich uncle, John Yule, along with to what degree she will be obliged to care for her ailing father. With Marion, Gissing provides us with a clear perspective on how a woman’s life and possible tragic fate is so dependent on outside forces, especially the letter of the law.Toward the end of the novel, we listen in on a discussion of the future face of publishing with Jasper Milvain and others as the forward-looking Mr. Whelpdale proposes a change in the name of a paper: “In the first place I should slightly alter the name; only slightly, but that little alteration would in itself have an enormous effect. Instead of Chat, I should call it Chit-Chat. . . . Chat doesn’t attract any one, but Chit-Chat would sell like hot cakes, as they say in America.” With this brief exchange George Gissing conveys how well-worn, conventional notions of culture are rapidly transforming, how success in literature is becoming Americanized along with everything else, how what people read will be driven by catchphrases and slick marketing. Utilitarian, optimistic, pragmatic, materialist Jasper Milvain is all for it. The more I reflect on Gissing’s novel, the more I discern distinctly how the entire current day mass-media is the new literary New Grub Street.

  • MJ Nicholls
    2019-03-30 04:01

    Gissing’s seminal novel is perched peculiarly on the precipice of modernism and the hard crank of technogeddon is hewn into every toilsome syllable. Jasper and Edward are the foolish scribes living by their pens (imagine such an absurd notion!), kicking against the hot fuzz of hackdom and bitchery in their blazing borough. Edward, the inspiration for cuddly failed writer Ed Reardon in the heretically off-point Radio 4 comedy, is the “artist” (the quality of his novels is never particularly clear) crushed by the need to succeed and a disappointed wife whose delusional cheerleadering forces him into paid drudgery. If you have ever sacrificed anything at the expense of putting squiggles on a screen, this book may cause you to crunch up the little bundle of paper you spent three years organising and salve your soul with cut-price supermarket lager and self-hypnotise to a happier, less pig-ugly place where the imagination is valued and rewarded with kegs of champagne and hours of financial freedom.

  • Katie Lumsden
    2019-04-21 02:11

    Gissing is fast becoming on of my favourite Victorian writers. His writing is so strong, his description of people and his observations so well thought out and poignant. This is a story that deals will struggling writers within 1880s London, and is superbly and heart-breakingly written. Brilliant.

  • Nigeyb
    2019-04-15 05:27

    George Orwell said that George Gissing was "perhaps the best novelist England has produced". Orwell identified New Grub Street, along with The Odd Women and Demos: A Story of English Socialism as Gissing's "real masterpieces". Orwell, as an impoverished writer, would doubtless have identified with New Grub Street which discusses the connection between literature and commerce in late-Victorian London. New Grub Street was not a physical place, but an allusion to the original, 18th century Grub Street which was once a real street in the Cripplegate (now the Barbican) area of London, and in New Grub Street is a metaphor for a life of literary penury. The main protagonists are a pair of writers: Edwin Reardon, a novelist reluctant to compromise on his art, and Jasper Milvain, a hard working hack journalist who perceives his writing as an end to accumulating money. Milvain is open about his desire for wealth and status, whilst Reardon endlessly frets about the quality of his work and recoils against Milvain's ideas to more readily sell his written output. The plot examines how these two approaches impact on the friends and families of the two writers. Anyone hoping for a happy ending should look elsewhere, and the story was clearly borne of personal experience. Given Gissing’s downbeat opinion of London's publishing industry, it is no surprise that it is the unscrupulous characters who ultimately prosper. I thought it was a great plot and credibly captured a society in transition. I look forward to reading more of George Gissing's work.

  • Paul Bryant
    2019-04-09 01:15

    Amores Perros, Bad Lieutenant, Breaking The Waves, Calvaire, Cries And Whispers, The Silence, Salo, Eraserhead, Irreversible, Martyrs, Funny Games, Happiness, I Spit On Your Grave, Ladybird Ladybird, The Last House On The Left, L'humanite, Man Bites Dog, Tumbling Doll Of Flesh, The Piano Teacher, Hostel, A Serbian Film, Visitor Q, Wolf Creek, Hunger, Blindness, Skylark, After Leaving Mr Mackenzie, Confessions Of A Mask, The Killer Inside Me, A Personal Matter, The Room, The Painted Bird, The White Hotel, Extinction, Try, Topping From Below, American Psycho, The End Of Alice, Push, The Gathering, Spare Key, NEW GRUB STREETSometimes you see those guys on the street with one long dotted line tattoed round their neck and an inscription CUT HERE. This is one of their favourite novels.

  • F.R.
    2019-04-02 05:20

    This is my second reading of ‘New Grub Street’ and I think I’m even more impressed this time around. Gissing follows three writers in the late Victorian age: struggling artist Edwin Reardon, embittered critic Alfred Yule and literary opportunist Jasper Milvain. Each of them is trying to make their way as a man of letters in London and through them the book deals with literature in a commercial age.If you’re a writer yourself you’ll see replicated some of the pain and frustration is takes to actually write a book. (Although, to be honest, if this novel had been written a hundred years later it probably would have concerned academics). As well as the three main protagonists, there are many other characters engaged in ‘writing’ and in their diligence and disappointments can be seen the lessons Gissing himself learnt as a struggling scribe. (The most touching portrait is that of Harold Biffen.) Interestingly, the book also has a lot to say about writing as art as opposed to writing for financial reward – a debate which would become louder in the 20th century.The ending is necessarily cold and no doubt reflects the reality of the world as Gissing saw it. There are searing descriptions of poverty throughout, but there is little bitterness in the tone of the book. Even when death and failure descend, the author prefers to elegise rather than settle scores. Indeed the man with the grudge is portrayed as ridiculous. The older set of writers know that they’ve entered into is a gamble and may win success or fail, while the younger generation has already realised that different rules now apply.I remember the last time I read it finding the first two chapters hard work, but then it was compulsive beyond that. This time around I’d describe it as a work of genius from start to finish.A masterpiece I would heartily recommend to everybody.

  • Pam
    2019-04-17 06:00

    I bought this book a couple years ago, when I was on a 19th-century naturalism binge. As near as I can tell, the book is about writing for money, as opposed to writing as art. One character is totally opposed to reading and education in general. He thinks it's unnatural, and that we should all be out exercising and working, building our bodies rather than our minds. The book is on some classic lists, and I even saw it on a list of best horror novels. I'm thinking someone expanded the definition of horror. But it's early yet -- maybe there will be a Therese Raquin type of psychological torture later.Edit: Finished the book. I didn't find any horror, unless not realizing your dreams and ambitions is horror. Maybe it is. There aren't a lot of people to like in this book, but it's worth reading for the insight into 19th century publishing and the lives of impoverished writers.We've all read Austen and Dickens, but Gissing shows us a different class of 19th century people -- intelligent, ambitious, literate, but outside of society because of their poverty and lack of success.

  • William Sandles
    2019-04-05 08:14

    As far as tragic novels go, Gissing doesn't have the narrative power of a Joseph Conrad, or even a Thomas Hardy at his best; nor does he have the singular gift of psychological subtlety of a Henry James; or the ambition of Mary Ann Evans aka (bka?) George Eliot; not even close. These writers can be downright operatic in their works. Gissing's style is a wonderful and curious hybrid of knife fight and Victorian drawing room comedy. No, there is no violence to speak of; not in the physical sense. The violence comes from the "benign neglect" of a culture that doesn't give a damn about serious art or artists, but will peddle the most mundane works for the "quarter educated" masses for a cheap quick dollar, or rather pound, since the scene of the crime is London in the 1890's. Gissing's hand is savage, and spot on, not just about his age, but of apparently about our own. Think our age invented empty fame, or hype men, or "hustlers?" Not so. A great read, I have to put it on my "cynic's syllabus" of works that eviscerate a medium: on lit, it joins (or rather pre-dates) Wallace Thurman's Infants of the Spring, on Broadway the film All About Eve, on film the film Sunset Boulevard, on Hollywood in general The Player, on television the film Network. I read about the book years ago, in a piece in the New York Times on books that aspiring writers should never read, (Gissing would appreciate the clever lure; one could almost see one of the hacks he writes of using the same device to help sell copy; Gissing would also entirely understand our click conscious culture, where fortunes are made and lost on the amount of eyeball traffic a site gets.)Read it. Think about it. Tell somebody about it after you're done.

  • Pamela
    2019-04-03 02:03

    I suspected I was going to love this book because I so loved another Gissing novel, The Odd Women (see my review). I did. New Grub Street was published in 1891 but couldn't feel more contemporary in its wry, sly, cynical take on writers and the writing life. As in The Odd Women, Gissing is preoccupied with the ways in which material want deforms lives and ideals. There are no villains here, but the talented and high-minded tend to fail, while the savvy and commercial-minded tend to succeed. Gissing is too good a psychologist to make all this simplistic or moralistic... he just makes it ring true enough to hurt. His portrait of the disintegrating marriage between a literary novelist and his practical-minded wife is excruciating, and puts me in mind of another terrific novel that's getting so much attention right now, Revolutionary Road.

  • Issicratea
    2019-04-02 05:20

    I find myself wavering about this novel. Half of me thinks it’s only medium good—standard, intelligent, late-Victorian/Edwardian fiction, without Stevenson’s quicksilver eye and prose, or even Arnold Bennett’s dogged lyricism. The other half thinks it’s actually rather powerful in the relentlessness of its vision, and almost brutal, in an interesting way —in particular, with what it does with its not-quite heroine Marian Yule. New Grub Street opens on a note of literal gallows humor, when we see the young Jasper Milvain winding up his sisters by expressing his liking for reading about executions (“There’s a certain satisfaction in reflecting that it is not oneself.”) Jasper has plenty of opportunities to enjoy this charitable sensation as he pursues his arduous path to literary success. His rise is accompanied on all sides by the spectacle of less “adapted” writers (Darwin is definitely a subtext) descending into poverty, sickness, and despair. This makes the novel sound depressing, and it should be, with this subject matter. In fact, it’s actually quite an enjoyable read. If I can say this without sounding too disparaging, it has something of a soap opera feel about it, with a fairly broad cast of flattish characters choreographed into satisfying moral and emotional geometries. The setting is very interesting and vividly realized: the half-gentlemanly, half-cutthroat world of journalism and literary publishing in 1880s London, with some details curiously reminiscent of today. The appealing minor character Whelpdale finally makes his career with a vanity school for would-be authors—“novel-writing taught in ten lessons”—and a periodical made up of articles measuring no more than two inches in length, with every inch broken into at least two paragraphs, for readers “incapable of sustained attention.”Some of the historical detail in the book I found fascinating. There’s a weird account of a morning in a smog-filled interior (“The thick black fog penetrated every corner of the house. It could be smelt and tasted … ”). And I loved it when three characters had dinner in an “à la mode beef shop” —perhaps the 1880s equivalent of St John? Sometimes the pleasure in these details is made up of dramatic irony. In this genre, I particularly enjoyed the reference to “one of the most shocking alleys in the worst part of Islington.”

  • Sera
    2019-04-05 05:17

    New Grub Street is my second Gissing book, and he's now become solidified as my favorite Victorian author hand's down.The book involves three primary groups of characters who are engaged in some form of literary or journalistic occupation: the Reardons, the Yules and the Milvians. There are some important characters ancillary to these families, but the primary story involves the three families and how their occupational pursuits impact their personal lives. Gissing provides interesting commentary on the current state of literary society, while also examining its evolution into other genres and non-standard writing practices. In addition, Gissing provides insight into the role of the literary critic and his impact on the success on the writings (and earnings) of others.The ability (or inability) to earn a living in these occupations is really the core of the story. Gissing takes the common Victorian themes of poverty and eagerness of upward advancement and presents them in a fresh way. Whereas Dickens seems to find a positive spirit or inherent morality in his impoverished characters, Gissing shows poverty as it really is by focusing on how financial concerns consume a poor person's thoughts above all else, how it can destroy families, and how some people who need money use others to improve their financial condition, whether it be through marriage or otherwise. Most interesting is when Gissing puts money into the hands of a few of his female characters, which automatically puts them in an improved position of power, making it clear that financial means is gender neutral and of significant benefit to any person who is able to obtain it.All in all, a great read. If you haven't read Gissing yet, do yourself a favor and check him out. His ability to explain the inner workings of the human mind and one's feelings far surpasses that of most writers.

  • Despoina Despoina
    2019-04-21 01:06

    Οι ήρωες αυτού του βιβλίου είναι όλοι τους κονδυλοφόροι - γράφουν.Καταρχάς βέβαια διαβάζουν, αγαπούν πολύ το διάβασμα, αγοράζουν βιβλία και περιοδικά, θέλουν να είναι ενήμεροι για τις νέες εκδόσεις και τις κριτικές τους.Κι όπως σχεδόν κάθε άνθρωπος που διαβάζει πολύ και αγαπάει τα βιβλία, έχουν την ικανότητα, άλλος λίγο κι άλλος πολύ, να γράψουν. Έχουν και την επιθυμία επίσης, άλλος λιγότερο κι άλλος περισσότερο, να γράψουν.Κι εδώ είναι που ξεκινάει το θέμα του βιβλίου.Για να γράψεις, λέει, δεν αρκεί μόνο η ικανότητα και η επιθυμία. Θέλει να αποφασίσεις και για τον δρόμο που θα επιλέξεις: θα γράφεις όπως θέλεις, όπως σου βγαίνει ή όπως ζητάει η αγορά; Θα γράφεις όποτε έχεις έμπνευση ή όποτε χρειάζεσαι λεφτά; Θα γράφεις ότι θέλεις να γράψεις ή ότι σου ζητάνε;Οι ήρωες.Ο ένας ελίσσεται, γράφει με τέτοιο τρόπο ώστε να χτίσει δημόσιες σχέσεις, να κερδίσει χρήματα, να μπορέσει να ζήσει καλά. Άλλος γράφει με τον τρόπο που θεωρεί ο ίδιος ότι πρέπει να γράψει, ικανοποιημένος κι ας διαισθάνεται εκ των προτέρων ότι το έργο του δεν θα γίνει αποδεκτό, κι ας ρισκάρει το να πεθάνει από την πείνα.Κι άλλος προσπαθεί να γράψει αυτό που ζητάει η αγορά, όμως με τόσο κόπο (και γι' αυτό ακριβώς χωρίς καλό αποτέλεσμα) που σχεδόν οδηγείται στην τρέλα.Άλλος για τη φήμη, άλλος για τα λεφτά, άλλος για τον έρωτα, άλλος για να συντηρήσει την οικογένειά, όλοι πασχίζουν με τα μολύβια και τα χαρτιά.Δεν μπορώ να χαρακτηρίσω τους Κονδυλοφόρους αριστούργημα γιατί δεν έχει εκείνες τις στιγμές τις μαγικές που νιώθεις ότι κάτι θείο έκανε ο συγγραφέας και σε σήκωσε από το έδαφος. Θα πω όμως την κοινοτοπία ότι είναι ένα βιβλίο που πρέπει να διαβάσει κάθε άνθρωπος που αγαπάει τα βιβλία, το διάβασμα και το γράψιμο.Βρήκα λίγο από τον εαυτό μου κι από τους φίλους μου μέσα του, την αγάπη για τα βιβλία ως αντικείμενα, την ικανότητα να δοκιμάζουμε τον εαυτό μας στο γράψιμο-παιδιόθεν, την επιθυμία να είμαστε κονδυλοφόροι, κυρίως, πέρα από κάθε τι άλλο που κάνουμε.Εντυπωσιάστηκα που βρήκα τόσες ομοιότητες ανάμεσα στο 1891 που εκδόθηκε το βιβλίο και στο σήμερα. Μάλλον δεν θα έπρεπε να εκπλαγώ τόσο: η ανθρώπινη ψυχή και οι ανάγκες δεν αλλάζουν με τους αιώνες.Ποτέ δεν θα πάψει να με εκπλήσσει το γεγονός ότι ο κόσμος του βιβλίου περιλαμβάνει μέσα του τόσα συμφέροντα και δημόσιες σχέσεις. Για κάποιο λόγο (για τον προφανή) θεωρούσα ότι εξ ορισμού έπρεπε να είναι διαφορετικός. Κι όμως.* Όταν μια φορά έβγαλα την κάρτα μου να πληρώσω σε ένα βιβλιοπωλείο και ρώτησα γατί δεν μου ζήτησαν ταυτότητα, έλαβα την απάντηση Μα ποιος θα έκλεβε μια πιστωτική κάρτα για να πάει να αγοράσει βιβλία; Ε, αυτό.

  • Chris
    2019-04-06 04:09

    It's a great book, which is strange because so many of the characters are unlikeable. Then again, maybe that is why it is a great book because all the characters are human.Gissing paints a very good picture of the times, and several characters, in particular Jasper, feel as if they could just work off of the page. There are only a total of two flat characters and that is all. There is something compelling about the tone and style as well. I wish my teachers in college had assigned this book. It's great.

  • J.M. Hushour
    2019-04-20 01:05

    It's a supreme irony that a book about a group of turn-of-the-century authors and their struggle to find success amidst the burgeoning marketplace of awful-mass-market fiction is so witheringly awful. It's almost as if Gissing, in the ultimate act of meta-whatever, decided to gain popular appeal by writing schlock.I was initially excited to read this. Orwell loved this novel (Gissing's dreadful execution of his female characters aside), it figures consistently in top 100 English novel lists (I guess I should stop reading those) and it seemed fitting for me, as a writer myself, to read about the emergence of the fatal period in which profit displaced quality. Unfortunately, it is so mind-numbingly dull and the characters so indistinct, smearing into each other, and vomiting up dialogue that no one in their right mind would ever utter, that I had to give up some way into it, and I don't usually do that. The main set of characters are aspiring young writers of various temperaments and social mores, all with differing views, I guess, of how to embrace the new age of the mindless appeal to the masses. It is essentially, a book written for writers, dense and abstruse, the characters cardboard engines for the utterance of pithy and darkily darking dark stuff about the challenge and difficulties a "real" writer faces.My advice to writers could be reduced to less than a flier's length: Write. Never stop. Keep your day job. Write. Yay!

  • Morgan Scorpion
    2019-04-14 07:04

    This book is unusual insofar as it has a hero with few redeeming qualities. I'm supposed to despise Milvain and respect Reardon, but in fact, I feel the other way round. I cheer on Milvain, even as I regret his callousness with regard to romance, and I positively enjoy watching Reardon's life going down the toilet. The unhappy ending that I am supposed to deplore, I actually applaud. You can call it schadenfreude if you wish, but I do feel that most of the people in this book get what they deserve. To say more would be to spoil the plot for you.As you can see, I emotionally engage with the characters in this book, even if I don't engage with them in the way the author wants me to. This in itself is a huge plus, because normally "human interest" stories leave me cold and bored. Gissing's women in particular are far more human, far more well-rounded than most women in Victorian fiction are allowed to be. Gissing can see people's defects and idiosyncrasies without judging them as harshly as someone like Dickens would do.I was gripped by this book enough to keep on reading even though I didn't always like the characters. And, I enjoyed it more the second time around.

  • Laura
    2019-04-09 05:02

    From BBC Radio 4 Extra:Harold Pinter narrates the tale of a group of Victorian writers' struggles with integrity and poverty. Stars Jonathan Firth.

  • Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
    2019-04-01 04:02

    Predictably, I didn’t love this book like I did The Odd Women, though once I got into it, I did enjoy it. And usually I avoid books about writers and writing, finding them too navel-gazing; despite that, and the fact that it is a 19th century novel (published 1891), I read half the book in a single day.This book follows several characters involved in various ways in the changing London literary scene. Edwin Reardon is a sensitive artist determined to write meaningful novels, to the chagrin of his wife, Amy, who has to pay the bills. His friend Jasper Milvain, on the other hand, will write anything for money and churns out articles like there’s no tomorrow; when the family runs short on funds, his sisters Maud and Dora start turning out commercial children’s books as well. Meanwhile Marian Yule spends her days ghostwriting for her father Alfred, a critic who blames his lower-class wife for success passing him by.While the book follows the struggles and relationships of these characters, it is really about literary life in late 19th century London. This period seems to have begin the beginning of the modern literary world: universal primary education was new and meant books could be marketed to a mass audience, and so much material was being published that a book needed strong marketing to succeed. New Grub Street even includes reviewers praising works by their friends and panning that of their nemeses. I wasn’t always entirely convinced by Gissing’s portrayals: his hack writers, for instance, cheerfully proclaim that they are hacks working solely for money; but it seems to me that in real life all writers think well of their own work, no matter its actual quality. (Even romance, the most formulaic of all genres, apparently only appeals when the writer shares the audience’s fantasies; cynical authors have tried churning out admitted crap to manipulate a gullible audience, without success. But perhaps Gissing anticipated that, as Edwin’s experience with commercial fiction is similar.) At any rate, the largest part of Gissing’s bitterness is reserved for the plight of starving artists, and issues of money and class. This is a realistic novel about characters whose lives are shaped by their access (or lack thereof) to money and society – not restful reading, but it feels much more immediate and contemporary than the work of other Victorian writers.Gissing keeps the story engaging, though it is a bit longer than necessary, and suffers from occasional melodrama toward the end. The weaving together of several stories is not always artful, with the book sometimes rewinding the clock to catch up on another character. On the other hand, the way minor characters’ stories play out in the background, getting complete arcs despite rarely appearing on-page, is skillful. And the plot doesn’t develop the way you might think; one of Gissing’s strengths is avoiding the traditional marriage plot in favor of a more complex and nuanced view of relationships.The characters are believable, their stories interesting, and the setting well-drawn. Despite the contemporary feel to the discussions of books, there is always something to remind us how much times have changed; for instance, Edwin, who is supposed to be a sympathetic character, has no interest in his baby son and even resents his claim on Amy’s attention – a lack of paternal feeling that bothers exactly no one, not even Amy. Meanwhile, the writing is good and very readable for a classic, with plenty of dialogue and twists to keep readers invested.So, then, I would recommend this novel – but after The Odd Women; I suspect this one gets more play these days because the people who make those “1000 books” lists are writers. But if there was ever a book to make you glad not to be a writer, this is it!

  • Dawn
    2019-04-03 01:25

    I enjoyed this story and its take on the publishing industry in the late nineteenth century. It follows the lives of several authors and shows how their lives improve, or not, as they follow a writing career. I found it interesting to see how much the attitude and general workings of the industry are still very similar to what they were then. Though I do have a perception that it is much more difficult to get published now than it was then. The technology might have changed but the essence still seems to be the same. The characters range from the mercenary who only care about the money, those who want the prestige, those that want power, and those who are literally starving but refuse to give up. None of these characters appealed to me, they were, for the most part, sadly pathetic. That said, I liked the story a lot. It was interesting and made me jealous that they could get into the British Museum library, which you can no longer do. *Note about the Librivox audiobook. This was a collaborative effort with 11 different readers over 46 parts. 15 of these were by Bridget Gaige who was a good reader and easy to listen to. 5 of these were by Jessi who I found difficult to understand due to the monotone delivery and flat articulation of words. 5 were by Alan Brown who was an okay reader but the production value of his parts made it difficult to hear, as it sounded as if he were reading from inside a tin can. 5 were read by hefyd who was pretty good. The remaining 16 parts were read by 7 different people who were relatively decent readers. The worst elements of this format were the changes in reading speed and loudness between the variety of readers.

  • Jane
    2019-03-21 06:11

    Although set in London in the 1880s, this novel, on the practicalities and realities of making one's living by literature -- writing, editing, publishing it -- examines conflicts still relevant in working writers' lives today, or at least it seems to me.This is fabulous social critique: on marriage as based as much on financial considerations as emotional ones; on friendship, real or professional; on writing as art or as industry; and on social status as a given or strategically self-made.The story does not feel, however, like an agenda. The characters, even the assholes, even the morally good, are nuanced. Scenes are complex. Events are surprising. Furthermore, while Gissing feels a sympathy for his characters who are oppressed by social structures (sex, class), he doesn't give them a free pass. Never mind this novels' redeeming qualities, it is also a good read: scenic, eventful, riveting at times. If you like Victorian lit anyway, and feel as though you've read it all, and yet you haven't read this, then this book is for you.

  • Robin Friedman
    2019-03-30 07:06

    Revisiting New Grub StreetI have been a reader of the late Victorian novelist George Gissing (1857 -- 1903) for most of my life and have read or reread much of his writing and reviewed it online. Gissing remains too little known and I focused in my reading and online reviewing on some of his less familiar works which tend to go in and out of print. Unlike most of his books, Gissing's novel "New Grub Street" (1891) has achieved recognition and readership. The book has remained in print, is frequently read and taught, and has garnered perceptive and appreciative reviews from online readers. After a long absence I wanted to revisit New Grub Street through Gissing's book.Grub Street was the center of literary activity and publishing in London. Set in the late 18880's London, Gissing's book offers a sad, pessimistic depiction of literary life in an age of commercialization. The book depicts the heavy competition among writers for publication, recognition, and financial reward and the attendant difficulty of finding and maintaining a sense of individual integrity.Virtually all of the novel's large group of characters are involved in the literary life. The book focuses on struggling young writers usually described as Bohemian. It also enters into the world of scholarly writing, into book editing and publishing, and, a subject important to serious online reviewers, book reviewing. The book explores how with the rise of at least partial literacy in a large population and the perceived attractions of the literary life, writing frequently involved harshness and drudgery and led to poverty. Early in the novel, Gissing describes those who survive by writing and who sit for hours in the British Museum as living in the "valley of the shadow of books." Writing and poverty are at the center of this novel together with the effect of writing on the search for love, intimacy, and sexuality.The primary character, Edward Reardon, is a young novelist whose early writings achieved a degree of success. Reardon has married the lovely, accomplished Amy Yule who wants a materially comfortable life which she believes her husband can provide through his writings. Reardon, however, is in the midst of a writer's block and cannot produce anything up to his own standards. His efforts in the area of popular writing prove unsuccessful as he and Amy quarrel, drift into poverty, and ultimately separate.Reardon's story is juxtaposed to that of his contemporary and acquaintance, Jasper Milvain who likewise is trying to rise from a modest background. Although lacking novelistic talent, Milvain is a young man on the make through networking, writing essays and review, and trying to cater to the public taste. Milvain also seeks a financially advantageous marriage and has few scruples about how he obtains it.A third writer, Alfred Yule, is an aging scholar with large, thwarted ambitions who spends his days in the British Museum and who ekes out a modest living writing articles assisted by his daughter Marian. With the pressures of sexuality and the need for love, Yule married early in life, taking a wife from a poor, uneducated family. The marriage proves unhappy to all concerned.Besides these three characters and their love interests, the book develops some fascinating secondary characters. The most memorable of these is Biffen who lives in abject poverty and who is writing a long, "realist" novel called "Mr. Bailey, Grocer" focusing on the every day, undramatic life of those whom Biffen calls the "ignobly decent". Biffen proves a true friend to Reardon. A character named Whelpdale is a failed novelist and a mostly failed suitor, but he develops an eye for low literary taste and for the reading needs of those who ride buses and subways. He becomes the successful publisher of a gossipy tabloid.Many readers find "New Grub Street" glum indeed. Most fundamentally, the book questions the value of having so many people with substantial gifts and educations struggling to succeed in the overcrowded field of writing when they might make more modest rewarding choices for themselves which would offer the chance of love and sexual fulfillment. Then too, Gissing criticizes shallow, commercial writing aimed largely at turning a profit. Although Gissing portrays the weaknesses of characters such as Reardon and Biffen, he believes writing must aim at value and meaning separate from the marketplace. His icons are the writers of Greece and Rome. This is a difficult belief to maintain because of the education and agnosticism of the characters in this book and the denial of any values beyond those of immanence."New Grub Street" is written in the third person in a narrative voice that tells the reader virtually everything about its characters. Critics have often found that Gissing talks too much about his characters rather than showing them in action. This criticism is overdone, I believe, but the author still has a heavy editorial voice which sometimes reaches out in apostrophes to the reader. The book also includes a great deal of dialogue. In places in the novel, Gissing satirizes his own writing style. Although heavy in places, the writing in "New Grub Street" effectively matches its story. It is in shades of gray and of London fog. Each of the primary characters, male and female, are well and individually developed, showing both their strengths and their inevitable human failings.At one point in the book, Biffen is accompanying Reardon as Reardon responds to an urgent call from his estranged wife. Biffen points out to his friend the folly and obstinacy of his way of life and the need to compromise. He says:"[W]e both of us have too little practicality. The art of living is the art of compromise. We have no right to foster sensibilities, and conduct ourselves as if the world allowed of ideal relations; it leads to misery for others as well as ourselves. Genial coarseness is what it behoves men like you and me to cultivate."Gissing put a great deal of himself into "New Grub Street" as he describes the dilemmas he faced as a writer. Reardon is an autobiographical figure but there is much of Gissing as well in Biffen, Whelpdale and in Jasper Milvain. Readers new to Gissing will not need to worry about these autobiographical references. The book also describes well the London of the late 19th Century and the nature in particular, of literary London.I was glad to revisit New Grub Street and an author I have loved for a long time. "New Grub Street" remains the book of Gissing that will be of interest to the reader seeking to know his work.Robin Friedman

  • Pam
    2019-04-03 01:05

    The BEST book I have ever read. George Gissing deserves a much wider audience. If you want to read about real life in Victorian London, forget Dickens. Read Gissing. Right now.

  • Alex Siskin
    2019-03-29 05:19

    I had a wonderful time reading this book. Somehow it was completely engaging, like a thriller almost. Part of it was my own mood, as I was upbeat and reading and focusing well, and I had just finished a challenging slog through May Sinclair’s sometimes leaden but highly rewarding The Creators, which carefully examines and updates Gissing’s story and topic. I found New Grub Street positioned in just the right staging area on my shelves, and knew just enough about it to guess correctly that it is a rich and perfectly complementary predecessor to Sinclair’s novel, a better and more important book in many ways. A big part of that is that it’s energetic, with great characters and a strong narrative drive. Much, much better than the tidy positioning of this book for my own timely enjoyment was George Gissing’s own situation and necessity when he began composing this seemingly standard late Victorian three-decker. He was writing from his life and heart and using fiction and convention to explore the deepest levels of his personal struggle and art. There are indications that Gissing, like so many authors, and his own characters here as well, backed himself against the wall with a strong but perhaps mostly subconscious sense of purpose, setting the artistic and creative stage for the fight of his life, laying aside his gloves and wading bare-knuckled into the fray. Some of this book is magnificent, at least it was for me, and it was fun and compelling throughout, a virtually no-holds-barred battle of the literary artist with himself.Working at a movie studio and in show business you are constantly attracted and repelled by the ultimate taboo subject, the business itself. The audience doesn’t want to see movies about making movies or the business of movies–or does it? Just a couple of days ago, as I was reading this book in fact, I had a conversation with a writer who said that she had been laying low and working on a script that everybody, including herself, would tell her is the one thing she shouldn’t write, a story about writing scripts. It’s interesting that the Hollywood Novel is a separate and seemingly acceptable pursuit, one form commenting on another. Literature and fiction present a different equation, with something like the same quotient: a coming of age story and bildungsroman, novels as a portrait of the artist, are readily embraced and even foundational, but books that are more concerned about the making of books are tricky territory, especially if they’re about the making of money on books, and the realities of living as an author. We want to put the entire enterprise into a separate and somehow more congenial category, the highly celebrated and enjoyable genre of literary biography, my own favorite perhaps, where the struggles and foibles and heroism and humanity of authors is studied and revealed. For the most part we read about the greats and immortals in literary biography, and part of the attraction of the genre is that it constitutes immortality within itself. The subject is worth remembering: we might not always read Samuel Johnson’s work, unlike Shakespeare, but we will always know and remember Johnson, thanks to Boswell. Boswell explains and reminds us that Johnson gave us his Dictionary, that he helped us begin to read Shakespeare, and he crystallized the genre in which he himself lives, by writing the Lives of the Poets. And it’s further evidence of Johnson’s immortality and deep understanding of literature and its intricate workings, that he wrote a brilliant early book about authorship and the literary life, about a writer who wasn’t great or immortal, in his Life of Savage. This book is about life, and about his friend, and about the business of books and patronage and the complexity of authorship and the artistic personality. It is about Grub Street.Notes indicate that George Gissing could have made a good living writing for magazines and editing and taking the practical view of the first of his primary characters to be introduced, Jasper Milvain. Instead he chose the path of his struggling, creative, and doomed novelist hero, Edwin Reardon. Early in the book Milvain says that Reardon, for whom he has great respect and sympathy, doesn’t stand a chance, that he might keep going by getting 100 pounds for his next novel, but then he’ll just have to do it all over again. Apparently this was more or less exactly Gissing’s situation as he was writing New Grub Street. Gissing thus sets his imagination loose in a fascinating and slightly morbid way, as he studies Reardon succumbing to the pressure of creativity on demand, becoming blocked and unable to work at the level necessary to sustain and build on his early foothold and promise. Reardon intentionally makes self-destructive choices, as Gissing himself may have been inclined to do, and Gissing uses Reardon’s descent to examine the details and desperation of literary failure. In the meantime, however, Gissing charts a parallel story of steady application and success in his Milvain narrative, showing how the game is played to win. Gissing has a great detachment from Milvain, who knows his skills and limited talent and has no interest in writing novels, while Gissing himself is of course writing a novel.And he is doing it superbly, I would say, showing mastery of the form in its contemporary 80′s guise, with rich plotting and characterization. This text, by the standards of the day, is spectacularly self-referential, wildly modern in its self-consciousness of form. And it’s also remarkably adept and acute in its psychological subtlety, as I’ve never read a book that examined so directly and carefully the workings and process of self-deception, using the term itself more often than I’ve ever seen. This is perhaps appropriate: does Gissing mean to suggest that the process of writing fiction is the ultimate, and possibly heroic, act of self-deception, while moreover it is also some sort of sickness unto death? Despite being a self-deception afficionado, I have never thought of things in quite those terms before.As I mentioned in my last post on May Sinclair’s gender-conscious rewriting of this book, Gissing covers all sorts of ground as far as writing and creativity are concerned, but his inclusion of women in the equation is only a prototype and rather primitive, ripe for revision by Sinclair and other feminists. Gissing is more concerned about the proper mate and intellectual companion for a literary man, and he does a good job of staking out this initial view of the territory. He picks up on the frustration and cross purposes of the Lydgate-Rosamund relationship of Middlemarch, and applies it to the world of literature, authorship, and educated women. This is a strong companion text to MM. There are lots of striking women characters and subtle moments, and considerable range between Reardon’s wife Amy Yule and her cousin, Milvain’s fiance Marian Yule, and Milvain’s own sisters, who he turns towards scribbling as means of supporting themselves. All of these women encounter severe economic challenges, which it seems for a time that they might write themselves out of like the men in the book are trying to do, but the men aren’t really even close to being successful (aside from Milvain), and Gissing refrains from giving any of the women a path to literary success either.The greatest sympathy, it seems, goes out to the most benighted workers at literature, Edwin Reardon and Marian Yule. Gissing has deftly created a dark cross on George Eliot’s mismatched Middlemarch plotting, where Dorothea and Lydgate seem so well suited and close to each other, but always so far apart, and the happy young scribbler Ladislaw, needy in his own memorable ways, appears and generates moral choice. Remembering Ladislaw and his profession (vaguely, in my case) helps one realize how carefully Gissing is rewriting George Eliot, while going into a darker and more dangerous urban mileau, and trying to add the next generation’s extra layer of realism. There are deep echoes of Casaubon in both Edwin Reardon and Gissing’s aging man of letters, Marian’s father Alfred Yule. It’s only when one ponders Middlemarch, however, that it’s possible to realize that the sympathetic side of the Dorothea-Lydgate relationship in this case isn’t Milvain and Amy Reardon, which provides the novel with its conclusion, interestingly enough. Instead, most subtly, it’s Edwin Reardon and Marian Yule, a perfectly-matched pair that never even occurred to me as I was reading, and a couple that never meets or crosses paths, despite the virtually incestuous proximity of the principal characters in the story.Marian Yule’s attitude and fidelity, to her father and mother and her errant fiance, is a contrast to the line of poverty that Amy Reardon refuses to cross as her husband Edwin descends into the darker alleys of Grub Street. Gissing does a good job of mixing our sympathy, as Amy is supportive of Edwin and helps him to have a final opportunity, raising enough money for him to go away to an isolated spot to write a worthy book. But destitution and Grub Street itself seem to have a hold on Edwin, and his inability and unwillingness to try to continue writing is rather profound and meaningful. He resists feeding the literary machine any further, even though he knows this course will lead to his doom. He’s also despairing because Amy won’t join him in poverty; it’s as if he needs her prodding and understanding to incite, support, and sustain his creativity. Marian Yule, in contrast to Amy, draws no distinctions about poverty and economics. Jasper Milvain, on the other hand, is completely independent, or at least he is after receiving the support of a sacrificing and dying mother, necessary to making his start. Milvain and Amy Reardon are in perfect agreement and sync, and the novel’s plot seems to be a grand engine running on the suffering and sacrifice of other characters in order to bring them together at the end.Gissing’s book has all sorts of good details about the world of literary actrivity, and a number of telling and engaging characters. My personal favorite was Reardon’s Grub Street mate Biffin, who has a Dickensian charm and pluck in the midst of great adversity. Biffin is both the poorest of the poor and purest of the pure, and his solidarity and sympathy for not just Reardon, but also his own worship of Amy Reardon, is touching. His realist literary project, the composition of “Mr. Bailey, Grocer” is both amusing and serious, and he even plays the unlikely hero in a thrilling and telling third act sequence when he saves his precious, just-finished manuscript from a fire. Biffin’s rescue of his manuscript both drives the novel towards its ironic conclusion and makes a grand statement about literary production and authorial identity and meaning: Biffin’s manuscript, he knows, has a much greater value to him than his own life, which he is more than willing to sacrifice in order to save it.So yeah, this was a rich, great, highly enjoyable and thought-provoking book, perfectly timed for my own reading satisfaction. It has definite late Victorian design and lineaments, but if you’re willing to accept those or perhaps enjoy them, it’s a very worthwhile read. I’m eager to learn a bit more about Gissing and the criticism and standing of this book, as zhiv’s introduction to my Penguin edition is from 1985 and a bit thin and dated. NGS is also a player in the discussion of realism, a companion to W.D. Howells without the teacups, seemingly well-aware of Flaubert and Zola, but unwilling to press quite so far, while fascinatingly making the composition of realist fiction an important element of the text itself. All of that would seem to me a theoretical goldmine well-worth exploring. Lastly, despite setting some key limitations on the gender side of authorship, NGS contains a rich and even stunning example of a specific deeply engendered literary relationship, in the case of father and daughter Alfred and Marian Yule. As my own daughter and I are studying, and even enacting and writing about this topic, I’ll save my notes and thoughts on it for a separate post.

  • Kelly ...
    2019-03-31 08:08

    Read for Victober 2017Before reading this book I was lucky enough to see a few Booktubers speak of it. Then I googled the title and found that the superb George Orwell called George Gissing "perhaps the best novelist England has produced"! Wow! With an endorsement such as that this book was quickly moved to the top of my TBR, and it was well worth the jump. This book was deftly written with so much true insight into the publishing world of London in the 1880s, and into the problems of poverty in that era. Gissing's characters are genuine people who explore the most difficult issues of humanity. They face starvation but are too prideful to take help. They are ridiculed and they ridicule. They are sometimes arrogant and judgmental. They are educated but stupid. They are unkind at times and they fail one another often. They love one another but not selflessly. They mock one another. They are so real that I feel as though I know them. The book is very, very good and Gissing is a brilliant writer whom I will revisit soon.

  • Mark
    2019-04-11 07:00

    A thoroughly realized character study of two writers living in London in the 1880s. The first, Jasper Milvain, a confident networker who will do--and write--nearly anything to achieve fame and fortune. The second, Edwin Reardon, a glum individual whose literary promise was hinted at with his first novel, but the strain of trying to produce another masterpiece at any cost is slowly driving him, his (increasingly exasperated) wife, and his infant son to abject poverty. The dichotomy is obvious: the jovial hack (Jasper) versus the serious novelist (Edwin). Both desire fame and fortune through their writing, but they endeavor to achieve it in two completely different ways. The book has no plot per se, but instead follows these two characters--and the large cast of their families and fellow writing friends--in the pivotal years that will lead either to their success or their failure. When I mention that this is the most depressing book I've read since The Road, you can probably guess which of the writers will ultimately thrive. But it is beautifully written, and even though Jasper is a shameless rogue, I couldn't help but admire his tenacity. Though Edwin is the character we are more likely supposed to sympathize with (to a certain extent, anyway--Gissing hasn't created any characters in this book without flaws, but Edwin's plight mirrors Gissing's own far moreso than Jasper), there's no doubt that Jasper would be a far more entertaining (not to mention useful) friend to have. And it's a credit to Gissing's ability to create fully realized characters that I was most drawn to two of his characters on the periphery: Biffen, the novelist whose work is even less popular than Edwin's, and Whelpdale, the genial but untalented hack who falls hopelessly in love with every girl he talks to for more than five consecutive minutes.Which is to say that the novel is not unrelenting in its despair. Though Gissing has a knack for following up a nice moment in one of his characters' lives with a devastating blow to another character. Such is the life of a writer in 19th century London! Unless your name is Dickens, apparently.

  • Bettie☯
    2019-04-04 02:19

    Librivox recordong in conjunction with Project GutenbergThe story deals with the literary world that Gissing himself had experienced. Its title refers to the London street, Grub Street, which in the 18th century became synomynous with hack literature; as an institution, Grub Street itself no longer existed in Gissing’s time. Its two central characters are a sharply contrasted pair of writers: Edwin Reardon, a novelist of some talent but limited commercial prospects, and a shy, cerebral man; and Jasper Milvain, a young journalist, hard-working and capable of generosity, but cynical and unscrupulous about writing and its purpose in the modern (i.e. late Victorian) world.(Summary from Wikipedia)Opening: CHAPTER I. A MAN OF HIS DAYAs the Milvains sat down to breakfast the clock of Wattleborough parish church struck eight; it was two miles away, but the strokes were borne very distinctly on the west wind this autumn morning. Jasper, listening before he cracked an egg, remarked with cheerfulness:'There's a man being hanged in London at this moment.''Surely it isn't necessary to let us know that,' said his sister Maud, coldly.'And in such a tone, too!' protested his sister Dora.'Who is it?' inquired Mrs Milvain, looking at her son with pained forehead.'I don't know. It happened to catch my eye in the paper yesterday that someone was to be hanged at Newgate this morning. There's a certain satisfaction in reflecting that it is not oneself.''That's your selfish way of looking at things,' said Maud.Here:'t take it - misery on a stick right there!

  • Tony
    2019-03-26 08:03

    NEW GRUB STREET. (1891). George Gissing. ***1/2.Gissing was a Victorian novelist who fell in the category of realism. He had a checkered past as a young man, but finally settled down to a writing career. He became relatively popular, but never achieved his goal as a ‘rich’ writer. This novel is probably the best known among his surviving works, and uses his knowledge of the then writing world as his background. In it, we follow the career paths of several writers who are all trying to break through into the world of successful novels and make a substantial living out of it. Unfortunately, most of these writers never make. They are constrained by lack of ideas and by the format imposed on them by the largest customers, the lending libraries. This is an insightful look into the world of writing and publishing and it was very different from our world today. Although this is a very long novel, it seems as if the time flies by on wings – although it did take me two nights to get through it.

  • Ryan Williams
    2019-04-10 00:12

    Sometimes a reputation is lethal: a book feels so thoroughly strip-mined by critics that your reading it feels almost irrelevant . So with this book. Gissing's dialogue rarely sounds like living speech, or slyly advances a plot: it's there to info-dump on the reader for page after page, without mercy. The characters have attitudes rather than personalities; the stock of events is thin and repetitious.What sets it apart are the insights, all of which George Orwell was quick to net and bottle. Gissing knew all about the anguish of people for whom the strain of denying poverty guaranteed they would never leave it. Gissing's characters live in garrets, yet are forever mentally trying and convicting the 'savages' they have for neighbours. They hate the leisured gentry but despise self-made men with a passion. However brutish the effects of poverty, they resist any hint of change (which is meddling, and would only make things worse anyway).This very English tangle of attitudes towards class and wealth is thoroughly realistic, and remains true today.

  • Ian
    2019-04-07 05:13

    Really enjoyed this. Had been sitting on my bookshelf for a while as the blurb made it sound heavy going. Far from it - very involving and some great characters. It is all about literary folk trying to stave off poverty in London in the late Victorian period and the obstacles to producing fine literary novels if you don't know where your next meal is coming from, or how hard it is to earn a living writing for periodicals if the editor dislikes you. Great contrast between naturalist authors and commercial writers, beteen the expectations of the old and young, men and women, between being practical and being honest. A must read for any aspiring author.Also contains the most prescient critique of magazines deliberately dumbing down to attract readers because the attention span of the masses lasts no more than two paragraphs. Pick up OK! or Hello! and see if Gissing was not 120 years ahead of his time!

  • Dana
    2019-04-02 01:20

    I was thinking of giving just two stars to this book. I gave three, but mostly because of the portrait of the 19th century England's society it provided. On the whole, this was not a book to which I looked forward. I had to force myself to finish it. However, I appreciated the glimpses into a life in which women were almost totally dependent on men. Thus, the women were vulnerable and men under unbearable pressure to provide for them. Ambitious women were left to feel successful through their husbands' success and fame.. etc. Not a very appealing picture. And a book, in which every character is lifeless and dry, except, maybe, for one.