chapter  25
Unsigned review, Saturday Review, July 1886
Pages 1

Mr George Gissing resembles the father of the doll's dressmaker in at least one point, which, let us hasten to say, is not his fondness for 'three-pennorth rum.' He is 'man talent.' Unluckily, however, his judgment by no means equals his talent. Nothing can exceed his scorn ofbarbarians who have the healthy tastes ofEnglishmen for fighting and bodily exercise, and pursuing the birds ofthe air and the beasts of the field, unless it be his indulgent contempt for the female counterparts of the said barbarians, whether their tastes lead them to matins or Captain Marryat. Mr George Gissing is advanced, agnostic, antioptimist, antagonistic to social conventions, omne quod incipit in a, in short. His heroine is a young lady who remarks '1 am an Atheist' to a total stranger. His hero is one of the dyspeptic persons who, instead of going into a monastery, as in former days (where at least they plagued nobody but each other), mope and moan about the world without the pluck to do or the power to enjoy anything. He himself (the author, not the hero) has a fondness for formulating the most delightfully positive aphorisms. 'Fearlessness is generally equivalent to lack of imagination,' 'The demonstrative affectionateness which is a proof of incapacity for deeper emotions,' and so forth. In short, Mr Gissing would appear to have read George Eliot to his wounding, and more modern chatterers on Socialism and the Supernatural and so forth to his hurt. Yet, as we have said, he is a man oftalent, and even of considerable talent. Not only does he write well, but he has no small power ofinteresting the reader-power which is all the more remarkable in that his characters, as may be guessed from what has been said already, not unfrequently verge on the preposterous, and that the actual story which he has to tell is of the thinnest possible kind, almost thin enough to satisfy Mr Henry James or Mr Arthur Hardy. That a person with neither means, connexions, nor energy ofany kind, having attracted the favour, or rather the caprice, ofa woman ofmore amiability than passion, and very much addicted to the vanities of this present world, will not keep her affection ifhe does not strike while the iron is hot may be said to be a proposition likely to commend itselfbeforehand