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Workers in the Dawn [Paperback]

George Gissing , Debbie Harrison , Pierre Coustillas
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
Price: 16.00 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

14 Jan 2010
In this, his first published novel, George Gissing establishes the hallmarks of his life-long literary obsession with class, money and sex. Against the turbulent background of London in the late nineteenth century he explores the overwhelming obstacles that face men of education, intelligence and talent, who strive to escape from the artisan class into which they were born. The novel marks a turning point in the history of English fiction. Through his subversive treatment of the conventions of fiction, Gissing becomes a founding member of the new school of fin-de-siecle literary realism and anticipates the twentieth-century novels of D H Lawrence and George Orwell. This new edition includes a preface by Pierre Coustillas, a map of Arthur Golding's London by Richard Dennis, and a critical introduction and explanatory notes by Debbie Harrison.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 648 pages
  • Publisher: Victorian Secrets (14 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190646913X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1906469139
  • Product Dimensions: 3.4 x 22.5 x 15 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 807,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Far, Far Away 9 Jun 2010
By Robin Friedman TOP 500 REVIEWER
When the 22 year old George Gissing (1857 -- 1903) published his first novel in 1880, he was in the midst of a troubled life. A scholarship student at Owens College, Gissing had been expelled and served a month in prison after he had been caught stealing to support a young prostitute, Nell. Gissing then lived in the United States unhappily for a year. He returned to England and married Nell. With Nell's alcoholism, illnesses, and prostitution and the couple's repeated moves from one dreadful apartment to another, the marriage was deeply unhappy. Gissing wanted to support himself as a writer. He worked fervishly on his novel during 1879. It is, in part, a fictionalized account of his relationship with Nell.

Gissing first called his book "Far, Far Away" after a street-song of the London slums quoted during the story. He later adopted the more evocative title "Workers in the Dawn." The novel was rejected by several publishers before it was accepted on condition that Gissing pay the publication and printing costs. He did so using the proceeds of a small inheritance. The book sold poorly and was not reprinted until an American edition appeared in 1935. The book was reissued in 1985 and has now been reissued again in this new edition published by Victorian Secrets, edited and introduced by Debbie Harrison, and with a Preface by the leading scholar of Gissing, Pierre Coustillas.

"Workers in the Dawn" was a young man's book and a first novel. It is a long and wordy book of 600 pages. Although there are some highly impressive passages much of the book is written in a prolix and sometimes stilted writing style. The plot is complex and implausible in places, relying a great deal on coincidence. Some of the climactic scenes in the novel fall flat.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
It's a real pleasure to see a professional new edition of one of Gissing's early novels - hopefully the first of many. The critical material is excellent. I particularly liked the map, the penetrating introduction and the extensive notes to the text, all of which add further layers to the story.

This is a gripping and raw novel about London in the mid-Victorian era. As a first novel it is inconsistent at times, but the overall effect is stunning. It's prompted me to start rereading Gissing's other novels - I'd forgotten just how compelling a writer he is. Also buying copies for my daughters, as Gissing seems to be sadly overlooked in literature studies in school.

Highly recommended.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An Early Work 29 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The early works of novelists are particularly interesting and I wonder how a late 19th Century reader, perhaps a fan of Wilkie Collins, would have responded to this book. I rather think they would have enjoyed it. There is a good plot, there are two highly contrasted young females for the love interest, there is the disadvantaged hero who at least for a while overcomes adversity, and a couple of toffs who behave badly. The scene setting is always dramatic, the young Gissing new his stuff when it came to the slum areas of London, and much of the writing is vivid.
The youthful energy and determination that led to the creation of this long novel in difficult circumstances is almost hard to credit. The effort made to achieve a work worthy of publication underlined by the self-belief indicated by his own financial investment in the project is astounding.
Nevertheless I feel it fair to add that some of the romantic interest is marred by over-elaborate dialogue. The novel sometimes veers dangerously close to the sensation genre and the extensive notes provided suggest that the 19th Century reader might not have got all the drift or appreciated some of finer philosophical points on offer. The secularly minded but saintly Helen is too good to be true and the thought of poor misguided Carrie being subjected to a regime of lessons is, even if drawn from life, either rather sad.
This novel will be of great interest to the Gissing enthusiast but I suspect that the author himself in later life would have been well aware of its failings.
The print on demand volume is beautifully presented, with a useful map of the area of that area of London where the action occurs. I look forward with anticipation to future publications from the same source.
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