Nor are the women-folk of The Crown of Life any less lifelike than the men. It is perhaps true that one does not recognise why Irene Derwent possesses so overwhelming an attraction for Piers Otway, but that is probably evidence of the fact that she was his true mate by natural 'election.' It is common for men to wonder what their friends saw in their wives, and the trick of making the heroine in a novel loved by the public is proof positive of her actual unreality. Were the herOine real, they would compare her with some present reality, and conclude that a bird in the hand was worth any two in the bush of fiction. And it is very doubtful if Mr Gissing ever loved this heroine ofhis at all. For he is detached and aloo£ He describes his world seriously and gravely, being obviously interested in a godlike manner. But he is not passionately devoted to his Greeks or Trojans, and rarely steps from Olympus into the plains of Ilium to overthrow any boasting warrior. It is this very aloofness of mind which is one of his chief attractions; in two senses, at least, he is a master.