Customer Reviews


13 Reviews
5 star:
 (7)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:
 (2)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unsurpassed commentary on the Victorian literary scene
If the writer's life or the literary life or the everyday life of late Victorian England is your thing then New Grub Street is the book for you. It is a timeless classic, which has become a cult read for many beloved of Gissing. Full of characters who live and who you will come to love. Biffen and Reardon, they live on in the memory, loveable and hopeless,...
Published on 13 April 1999

versus
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The valley of the shadow of books
A difficult book to like, mainly because none of the characters (except for Marion Yule and one or two others) are particularly sympathetically portrayed. The two main protagonists are novelists/journalists. Edwin Reardon is a Classical scholar who has had a couple of books published, to very little acclaim or reward. He has married and has a young son, but as Reardon...
Published 5 months ago by Eileen Shaw


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A unsurpassed commentary on the Victorian literary scene, 13 April 1999
By A Customer
If the writer's life or the literary life or the everyday life of late Victorian England is your thing then New Grub Street is the book for you. It is a timeless classic, which has become a cult read for many beloved of Gissing. Full of characters who live and who you will come to love. Biffen and Reardon, they live on in the memory, loveable and hopeless, incorrigible, and yet faithful to their broken dreams and ideals. And despite its pessimism, this is a book full of optimism and the humanity that enriches one's life. I can only say that this is a book to be read countless times, for more than any writer I've read, Gissing has so much to give and this goes for all of his books. Read this and then go on to the others and you will know what I mean. George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Joseph Conrad, DH Lawrence, Thomas Hardy and many other of our writers read him and admired him. Some other books by Gissing: Born in Exile, Demos, The Odd Women, In the Year of Jubilee, The Whirlpool, The Nether World, etc.,
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Inspired and incredibly relevant, 22 Aug 2008
In `New Grub Street' George Gissing delves into the nature of the literary world of late Nineteenth Century London. His portrayal is stark and certainly in some ways pessimistic. Don't think, though, this subject matter too obscure. If anything, Gissing's observations are even more true today.

Gissing's skill at depicting the subtleties and contradictions of character, both male and female is unmatched, even in the modern age. `New Grub Street' moves you because you believe in the characters that he creates, and what's more, you can't help liking them. Even Jasper Milvain, who seems so hateful in the first chapter becomes rounded, full, even likeable at times.

The imagery that Gissing weaves into his text is gentle and apposite but never intrusive. The book is full of memorable scenes and conversations. You'll never read a more skilful piece of writing than the fire scene in any book, by any author.

This is the third of Gissing's novels that I have read (The Odd Women and The Emancipated were the others), and I have loved all three. For me, Gissing is the most under-read and under-rated of British novelists. 'New Grub Street', however, is the best of the three. It has all of Gissing's trademark qualities - intellectual dialogue, subtly developed characters with mixed motives - but is also masterfully structured with memorable scenes.

It's brilliant.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, if not uplifting..., 25 July 2006
By 
Gordon Neill (Cranleigh, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This is an engaging, if ultimately rather pessimistic novel: the bleak irony which underpins New Grub Street is that those men who have sought to escape the mundane necessity of remunerative employment find themselves, through committing themselves to a career as a man of letters, in thrall to the harsh economic realities of professional writing in late Victorian England. These realities have never been described with a more harrowing authenticity than in New Grub Street - Gissing is writing from a series of personal experiences which left him tottering on the point of penury and starvation. His characterisation is memorable and his prose is lucid and engaging. Gissing will almost certainly never be considered amongst the elite of Victorian England's authors - he lacks Dickens' vitality, for instance, or Hardy's understanding of human potential - but New Grub Street is undoubtedly a significant and thought-provoking novel.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gissing's Powerful Indictment Of The Literary World, 19 April 2013
By 
Keith M - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: New Grub Street (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Having just recently reread Jack London's brilliant novel about a man aspiring to the world (and business) of literature, Martin Eden, it is interesting to make a comparison with George Gissing's savage indictment (written in 1891) of all things literary in the UK at the end of the 19th century. Although London's novel was written almost 20 years later and obviously focused on the US literary scene, not surprisingly perhaps, the parallels of thwarted ambition and vagaries of publication criteria bear uncanny resemblances. For me, these are probably the two finest novels on the subject that I have read, with Gissing's piece-de-resistance just edging out London's novel on the basis of its emotional power and sheer unrelenting cynicism.

I guess the other thing we probably shouldn't be too surprised about is how Gissing's tale mirrors (and, sadly, foretells) many of the more negative aspects of the literary (and, more generally, media) world that have persisted until today. Of course, it is a generally accepted maxim that getting ahead in the literary world is more to do with 'who you know' (or pure chance) than necessarily with the inherent qualities of the material, a phenomenon that is brilliantly depicted in New Grub Street by Gissing's anti-hero Jasper Milvain ('a man of his day'), whose uncompromising (and unscrupulous) focus on furthering his own career is ruthlessly executed at the expense of family, 'friends' and 'intended' alike. Similarly, Gissing's novel depicts the potential dumbing down of more respectable literary publications with suggestions that they might feature items on what the royals were having for dinner (of course, the News Of The World had already been publishing tittle-tattle for 48 years by the time Gissing's novel was published).

I am perhaps being a little too sweeping in seeming to suggest that New Grub Street contains exclusively cynical characters. Jasper Milvain and (the similarly literary world-obsessed) Alfred Yule are certainly two of the most cynically-written characters you will come across. On the other hand, Milvain's erstwhile 'best friend', and similarly aspiring author, Edwyn Reardon is one of literature's great benevolent and sympathetic characters, as is (one of) Jasper's intended, Marian Yule. Gissing's novel is peppered with powerfully emotional passages, and his depiction of Reardon's relationship breakdown with wife Amy is as compelling and tragic as I have read anywhere (Zola included).
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful Book from the Very First to the Very Last Sentence, 25 April 2010
By 
Dr. R. Brandon (England) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: New Grub Street (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
A wonderful and enjoyable book from the very first to the very last sentence. This masterpiece from the Victorian novelist George Gissing is the story of a disparate group of writers struggling to make a living in the London of the 1880s. The varied characters span different strata of society and have ambitions that range from the intellectually superior to the commercial gossip column writers of the weekly magazines. All the characters are very well drawn and the story develops in a wonderfully smooth and accomplished manner, free from melodrama, flat sections or silly contrivances. Gissing drew heavily upon his own struggle to exist as an impecunious writer and the very real London in which the book is set and the apparent authenticity of the standards and conditions of the time that are portrayed are very convincing. The standard of English is just a joy to read and propels you through the novel without the slightest hitch or ambiguity. This work is as good as Gissing's earlier, 'Nether World' and possibly better. I became so involved with the characters that I feel they must be out there somewhere carrying on their lives. Do not be put off by the Victorian authorship, this is a wonderful book and easily stands comparison to any modern work, it should not be missed.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Literary life in late Victorian England, 21 Feb 2013
By 
Brian R. Martin (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: New Grub Street (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
`New Grub Street' is a novel about the lives of a wide spectrum of writers struggling to make a living in the closing years of the nineteenth century. Not very promising material you might think. But this was a period when universal education, albeit only for a few years, more leisure time, and greater general awareness of events, led to an explosion of publications, from cheap popular journalism, such as the gossip columns of the weekly magazines, to a bewildering array of intellectual literary journals. Gissing describes this world through the lives of a group of writers, some successful, some definitely not, all of whom have chosen to escape the mundane world of regular work and seek fame and fortune living by the pen. It is a risky decision. Writing is a crowded, poorly paid profession and publications are founded and fail regularity.

There is great competition to obtain a permanent post, hopefully an editorship, of one of the most prestigious publications, and climbing the greasy pole sometimes reveals the less appealing side of their characters. Selfishness, vanity and self-delusion frequently lead to feuds and squabbles over obscure literary matters, as well as strained personal relationships. (Not dissimilar to the petty squabbles that break out from time to time amongst some Amazon reviewers!) It is not always a pretty sight. Despite this, they remain faithful to their ideals as they see them and continue to write, even when they are living close to poverty in some cases and the future looks grim.

`New Grub Street' is usually considered Gissing's finest work and it is not difficult to see why. All the characters, their interactions, and the social conditions in which they work, are very well described. The story is developed in a calm way using a beautiful clear style that makes the reader have sympathy with the even the least likable characters. It is a depressing story, but also ultimately uplifting. Read it slowly and enjoy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Penetrating, much underrated late Victorian realist novel, 18 Mar 2012
By 
A. J. Barber "barbert" (Rome, Italy) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: New Grub Street (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Rarely has a capital city's literary and journalistic scene been dissected with such ruthlessness and insight as in 'New Grub Street'. Gissing is not always the most stylish of writers, but what he lacks in elegance he more than compensates for in brilliant characterisation and understanding of the social and economic pressures under which human beings struggle. He makes it possible to sympathise with his main characters in spite of their defects, ranging from selfishness and short-sightedness to vanity and self-delusion. In this sense it is a humane novel, tempered by an acute psychological realism. A great Victorian novel, and one of the few that gets to grips properly with the the economic realities of life for educated but not well-off city-dwellers in this era.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars New Grub Street., 14 Feb 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: New Grub Street (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
Prompt and efficient. I found the print quite small so it might not be very easy for an elderly person to read. Thank you.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Gissing's best book, 12 Jan 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: New Grub Street (Oxford World's Classics) (Paperback)
This is my favourite of Gissing's books, and I think it's also his best. He clearly has lived amongst characters just like these, writers who've had varying degrees of success, and their day-to-day frustrations make you wish you could go and buy a few of their books just to tide them over the weekend! Lovely stuff.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Writing, money and alienation, 3 Feb 2008
By 
Graham R. Hill (Ilkley) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
New Grub Street is, of course, a novel about writing and writers. It is also, in common with pretty much every other 19th century novel, about money or, to be more precise, the lack thereof. It contains the usual extended whinge about how difficult it is to maintain the bourgeois lifestyle to which its protagonists consider themselves entitled by the accident of their birth and by their 'education'.

However, beneath those two themes there is a third which can even today speak to those who are neither 'men of letters' nor suffering under the delusion that society should be organised for the pleasure of the idle few. The novel deals, and deals well, with the plight of those who find no match between who they, in their own minds at least, are as an individual and the roles for which society is prepared to pay them. The alienation faced by Gissing's writers is certainly still felt by the far greater numbers of knowledge workers in today's economy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

New Grub Street (Oxford World's Classics)
New Grub Street (Oxford World's Classics) by George Gissing (Paperback - 11 Dec 2008)
8.02
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews