chapter  9
Pages 7

His interest in Russia itself is of course evident from his novels and particularly from The Crown of Life (1899), whose hero lives for many years in Russia and which has numerous references to Russian literature, politics and so on. We have Gissing's word for it too that the writers who were helping him most in his formative years were French and Russian, and his letters show that among these Russian writers Turgenev figured prominently. In 1883 for example he was writing to his sister Ellen, describing him as 'without doubt the greatest living writer of fiction': a year later he was 'very busy with T ourgueneff', reading 'five or six' of his novels in German. He was proud of the two letters which, he told Ellen, he had received from Turgenev 'on matters of business' -probably in connection with a proposal that he should write a series of articles on English literature for the St. Petersburg periodical the Messager de /'Europe, and in another of the letters he proclaimed 'he is a man I glory in'.