Underappreciated Literature: George Gissing

Monday, August 06, 2007

George Gissing was one of the most accomplished British novelists of the late-Victorian era, penning strikingly modern stories populated by shamelessly self-promoting journalists, corrupt preachers, chauvinist husbands, and scheming wives. Biographer John Halperin tells us why Gissing belongs on your summer reading list.

Search for a used copy of John Halperin's Gissing: A Life in Books at

Read Gissing's best-known book, New Grub Street, for free online here, or check out the rest of his books available for download here.

Weigh in: Who's your favorite underappreciated author?


John Halperin

Comments [8]

Deb from Brooklyn

Gail Godwin wrote a novel in the 1970’s called “The Odd Woman” about an English professor in the mid-west who assigns her students George Gissing’s book “The Odd Women.” She wanted to see how her young students who believed they would get everything they wanted in life would react to Gissing’s assurance that they certainly would not. Two very good novels.

Aug. 07 2007 03:31 PM
Trevor from LIC

Frederick Exley is also underappreciated. Love to hear a segment on him

Aug. 06 2007 03:27 PM
Elise Blackwell from Columbia, SC


Aug. 06 2007 02:57 PM
Trevor from LIC

thanks for advertising your novel, much like one of the characters in the old "New Grub Street" itself.

Aug. 06 2007 02:30 PM
Elise Blackwell from Columbia, SC

I love NEW GRUB STREET so much I decided to retell it in a novel coming out in a couple of weeks. Titled GRUB, this update is set in contemporary New York. Every character in GRUB has a counterpart in the Gissing novel, but my target is today's literary marketplace. I'll be reading from it in several NY venues in October.

Aug. 06 2007 02:01 PM
Andrew D. from Skokie, IL

I just wanted to say that this is a great segment. As an avid reader (and, perhaps, not surprisingly, an English
major attending a local university) I am always looking for something else to read. I really enjoy listening to your show (which I do online regularly). It seems that there is always something new that I learn (or something interesting to look into further) when I listen to shows like yours (or shows on the local station, WBEZ, like"This American Life", which is another favorite of mine) which is exactly what I enjoy so much about public radio. I look forward to hearing more episodes of this segment, and, of course, of your show in general.

Andrew D.

Aug. 06 2007 01:08 PM
Edward Schneider from New York City

Note that quite a number of Gissing works are available as Project Gutenberg e-books (, viz:

# Born in Exile (English)
# By the Ionian Sea (English)
# The Crown of Life (English)
# Demos (English)
# Denzil Quarrier (English)
# The Emancipated (English)
# Eve's Ransom (English)
# The House of Cobwebs and Other Stories (English)
# In the Year of Jubilee (English)
# A Life's Morning (English)
# The Nether World (English)
# New Grub Street (English)
# The Odd Women (English)
# Our Friend the Charlatan (English)
# The Paying Guest (English)
# The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (English)
# Thyrza (English)
# The Town Traveller (English)
# The Unclassed (English)
# Veranilda (English)
# Victorian Short Stories of Troubled Marriages (English) (as Contributor)
# The Whirlpool (English)
# Will Warburton (English)

Aug. 06 2007 12:55 PM
Trevor from LIC

I actually bought a copy of Gissing's New Grub Street some months ago, and was curious as to why I'd never heard of this author before. I think there may be something telling in today's embrace of consumer capitalism and materialism and works such as Gissing's (or Hamsun's Hunger) being less popular. It's just not "cool" anymore to resist selling out; rather selling out is almost the point of artistic endeavour. Just look at the bands and bloggers of Willamsburg, Lower East Side, etc.: they don't have to much to say, they're really just entrepreneurs, adept at self-promotion.

My favorite underappreciated author is, by far, B. Traven, author of "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre". Look him up.

Aug. 06 2007 12:53 PM

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