New Grub Street

New Grub Street

New Grub Street

New Grub Street

Synopsis

New Grub Street (1891), George Gissing's most highly regarded novel, is the story of men and women forced to make their living by writing. Their daily lives and broken dreams, made and marred by the rigors of urban life and the demands of the fledgling mass communications industry, are presented with vivid realism and unsentimental sympathy. Its telling juxtaposition of the writing careers of the clever and malicious Jaspar Milvain and the honest and struggling Edward Reardon quickly made New Grub Street into a classic work of late Victorian fiction.

Excerpt

As the Milvains sat down to breakfast the clock of Wattleborough parish church struck eight; it was two miles away, but the strokes were borne very distinctly on the west wind this autumn morning. Jasper, listening before he cracked an egg, remarked with cheerfulness:

'There's a man being hanged in London at this moment.'

'Surely it isn't necessary to let us know that,' said his sister Maud, coldly.

'And in such a tone, too!' protested his sister Dora.

'Who is it?' inquired Mrs Milvain, looking at her son with pained forehead.

'I don't know. It happened to catch my eye in the paper yesterday that someone was to be hanged at Newgate this morning. There's a certain satisfaction in reflecting that it is not oneself.'

'That's your selfish way of looking at things,' said Maud.

'Well,' returned Jasper, 'seeing that the fact came into my head, what better use could I make of it? I could curse the brutality of an age that sanctioned such things; or I could grow doleful over the misery of the poor--fellow. But those emotions would be as little profitable to others as to myself. It just happened that I saw the thing in a light of consolation. Things are bad with me, but not so bad as that. I might be going out between Jack Ketch and the Chaplain to be hanged; instead of that, I am eating a really fresh egg, and very excellent buttered toast, with coffee as good as can be reasonably expected in this part of the world.--(Do try boiling the milk, mother.)--The tone in which I spoke was spontaneous; being so, it needs no justification.'

He was a young man of five-and-twenty, well built, though a trifle meagre, and of pale complexion. He had hair that was very nearly black, and a clean-shaven face, best described, perhaps, as of bureaucratic type. The clothes he wore were of expensive material, but had seen a good deal of service. His . . .

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