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New Grub Street

George Gissing

Book Overview: 

The 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 synonymous 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.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .After an evening of that kind Yule was unwell and miserable for several days.

It was not to be expected that Mr Quarmby, inveterate chatterbox of the Reading-room and other resorts, should keep silence concerning what he had heard of Mr Rackett's intentions. The rumour soon spread that Alfred Yule was to succeed Fadge in the direction of The Study, with the necessary consequence that Yule found himself an object of affectionate interest to a great many people of whom he knew little or nothing. At the same time the genuine old friends pressed warmly about him, with congratulations, with hints of their sincere readiness to assist in filling the columns of the paper. All this was not disagreeable, but in the meantime Yule had heard nothing whatever from Mr Rackett himself and his doubts did not diminish as week after week went by.

The event justified him. At the end of October appeared an authoritative announcement that Fadge's successor would be—. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Sometimes 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.

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...more

This is my second reading of New Grub Street and I think Im 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 w...more

Gissings 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...more

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...more

Two stars means the book is OK, not bad.

So I have now read this long, long book and I am having a hard time coming up with interesting things to tell you about it. THAT in itself is quite revealing!

Set in London in the 1880s, it is about diverse characters of literary and journalist circlesauthor...more

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....more

"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 appetizin...more

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 wit...more

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...more

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