Gissing and the Topographies of Lambeth, Part One: Boundaries, Walks, 'Thyrza'

A1 Journal article (refereed)


Internal Authors/Editors


Publication Details

List of Authors: Jason Finch
Publication year: 2018
Journal: The Gissing Journal
Volume number: 52
Issue number: 2
Start page: 1
End page: 26


Abstract

[first paragraph in lieu of abstract:]


George Gissing's understanding of specific London districts
was rich and complex.
He is self-aware and often ironic when he writes of the East End, Clerkenwell
or Camberwell. But critical approaches to the portions of London which Gissing
describes remain under-sophisticated. Since the 1890s, these approaches have
most often consisted merely in repeating the place names given in Gissing’s
texts as if the reader knew what they signified.
It is always tempting to blur the distinction between the place settings
characterised in certain ways in realist and naturalist novels such as those
of Gissing, and the actual places on the world’s map bearing the same names.
Establishing the relationships of writers and readers with the city spaces the
former write about and the latter occupy or could potentially visit is
challenging because of the near-limitless multiplicity of individual
relationships to a city. Whereas Charles Dickens was a Londoner from the age of
ten, Gissing moved there aged nineteen following youthful but adult spells in
Manchester, Boston, and Chicago, so was perhaps not a
Londoner but a migrant to London. Dickens and Gissing both presented themselves
as London experts to a readership among whom Londoners were numerous but not in
a majority. This meant a balancing of rich and accurate detail with
comprehensibility.








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