chapter  33
Edith Sichel on Gissing, Murray's Magazine, April 1888
Pages 13

Now, although this may have its absurd side, as is indeed necessary with any dilettantism, we cannot but own that the tendency is good. We are at any rate awake. Self-interest-the only true alarum for the majority, alas!-has roused us, and we see that some attempt at solution of social problems is necessary to our safety. Hence, the philanthropic atmosphere which is gradually spreading from the slums ofSt George'sin-the-East to the very halls ofMy Lord and Lady Dives, has penetrated into every region of daily life, and more especially into literature. We have had the Historical Romance, the Mystic Romance, the Social Romance, the Psychological Romance; it has remained for the present day to give us the Philanthropic Romance. It must yet be seen whether such Romance will answer its purpose. To us, at least, it seems more probable that the public will take its ugly lesson of hometruths in the form of a pleasing tale, which has no pretensions to be personal, than in the direct and dull shape of long statistics. And if the novel can thus succeed in turning people's thoughts and energies towards undeniable evils, without sensationalizing them, it will indeed have fulfilled a mission which has not been attempted since the days of Aurora Leigh.