“The first time I read an excellent work, it is to me just as if I gained a new friend; and when I read over a book I have perused before, it resembles the meeting of an old one.” –George Gissing
Born on this date in 1857, Gissing was an English novelist who published 23 novels between 1880 and 1903 while also teaching and serving as a tutor throughout his life. Three of his books, The Nether World (1889), New Grub Street (1891) and The Odd Women, were critically acclaimed in the 1890s and are still in print today.
Gissing began his writing career while living and working in Boston and Chicago doing a series of short stories for newspapers while also teaching and then doing a stint as a traveling salesman – experiences he used as the basis for New Grub Street.
While Gissing's early novels were not well received, he achieved greater recognition in the 1890s from his novels noted above, combined with his popular short stories in newspapers throughout Europe and his critical writings on Charles Dickens. He also made and cultivated friendships with influential and respected literary figures such as journalist Henry Norman and author J. M. Barrie. Then, at the height of his popularity, he died from pneumonia at age 46. Today, many critics place him alongside Thomas Hardy and George Meredith as one of the leading novelists in late 19th century England.
Gissing said he was fascinated by how individuals can be at the same scene but end up with differing views. “It is the mind which creates the world around us, and even though we stand side by side in the same meadow, my eyes will never see what is beheld by yours, and my heart will never stir to the emotions with which yours is touched.”
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