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Demos: A Story of Enligh Socilaism

George Gissing

Book Overview: 

"Richard Mutimer is delighted to inherit a large fortune. As a socialist, he means to use it well: he will open a factory in which workers would be treated well, he will advance his party's causes through his own wealth... At least, so he thinks. But reality may be far different. This novel raises more questions than answers. How much should money play in the marriage market, or can love have a prominent place? Can a man who gained power remain a socialist? This book is not only about political unrest. It is a story of a man who changes, for better or worse, and all the forces that shape him. Like other works by Gissing, it describes the London slums in the 19th century, the conditions of the working class, and a few families (some dysfunctional and some great). It was a favourite of George Orwell's, who developed some of Gissing's earlier themes in his own works. It is also reminiscent of works by authors such as Anthony Trollope. It is the only novel by Gissing which was adapted into film.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Indeed, you explained it to me yesterday.'

'I explained it?'

'In what you said about the works in the valley.'

'True. Many people would have interpreted me less liberally.'

Adela's eyes brightened a little. But when she raised them, they fell upon something which disturbed her cheerfulness. This was the face of Mrs. Mewling, who had come up from the direction of Wanley and was clearly about to pay a visit at the Manor. The lady smiled and murmured a greeting as she passed by.

'I suppose Mrs. Mewling is going to see my mother,' said Hubert, who also had lost a little of his naturalness.

A few more words and they again parted. Nothing further was said of the postponed visit. Adela hastened homewards, dreading lest she had made a great mistake, yet glad that she had ventured to come.

Her mother was just going out into the garden, where Alfred's voice sounded frequently in laughter or denunciation.. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Gissing explores class distinctions in this 1886 book in which a London mechanic, Richard Mutimer accidentally inherits a fortune.
He is a step above what we might think of working class men and is a social revolutionist, trying his best to aid his own class of the working poor. His attempts to fo

A New Edition Of Gissing's Demos

It is an event when a new edition of a rare novel of the late Victorian writer George Gissing (1857 -- 1903) becomes available. "Demos" was Gissing's third novel and was first published anonymously in 1886. It is one of a series of Gissing's early novels that deal wit

The book gives vivid pictures of the working and gentry classes and a certain version of socialist movement, with quite some engaging psychological passages. The hero has multiple facets in his personality which undergoes change over time. He and some other characters all internally struggle and mak

Overall I liked it: 3.5 stars. I read it concurrently with Memory Man by David Baldacci, the 110 million copy best seller. Demos was not exactly a page-turner like that was, but it was more thought provoking. So much of what he was writing about had a bearing on 20th century British politics: the ev

This is the third George Gissing novel I’ve read after New Grub Street and The Odd Women and apart from the weak romantic ending I enjoyed it very much. I came to it not long after reading the remarkable The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists with which it has the shared theme of the rise of Socialism

It’s been a while since I read any George Gissing, but I remember ‘New Grub Street’, ‘The Odd Women’ and ‘The Nether World’ as standing tall at the more modern end of Victorian fiction. They’re books which aren’t as staid as some of their contemporaries, nor as cloying as some of their contemporarie