George Gissing || New Grub Street

New Grub Street is a classic that escaped me until now. Either I did not pay attention during class or it escaped the attention of my tutors as well. The novel was recently translated into Dutch and was given a raving review in one of our national papers.  New Grub Street was given the highest praise and I quite agree. Granted: the setting is outdated. In this day and age of dole and unemployment benefits people in Western Europe no longer find themselves penniless and starving. The stress a lot of the main characters find themselves in would not have occurred nowadays. In other aspects the novel is still highly recognisable. The smugness of the literary clique overestimating their own position in society reminded me of the would be’s made temporarily famous by television shows. The sheer ambition of Jasper Milvain would have been applauded if he had lived now. People would have admired his meticulous planning of his future and his tremendous skills at networking.  Dressed into a slim cut suit he would have been the prototype of a 21st century young ambitious professional. Selfish parents, people looking askew at their partners for ruining their chances at success, women treated like little children, women finding their own way despite opposition,  writers becoming famous after their untimely deaths, it is all familiar.  Gissing brought his characters alive expertly despite them remaining something of a cliché. I can imagine those readers taking the context literally will find New Grub Street outdated, those who look upon the novel as one ahead of its time will enjoy it immensely.


About booksandliliane

I am an avid reader and love to share my love for literature. I have my own opinion on books that have been shortlisted, laureated by critics or are pushed on us by bookstores. I will try and explain why I like or do not like a book. Hopefully influencing you in your choice of books to read.
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