The Nether World

The Nether World The Nether World generally regarded as the finest of Gissing s early novels is a highly dramatic sometimes violent tale of man s caustic vision shaped by the bitter personal experience of pov

  • Title: The Nether World
  • Author: George Gissing Stephen Gill
  • ISBN: 9780199538287
  • Page: 126
  • Format: Paperback
  • The Nether World 1889 , generally regarded as the finest of Gissing s early novels, is a highly dramatic, sometimes violent tale of man s caustic vision shaped by the bitter personal experience of poverty This tale of intrigue depicts life among the artisans, factory girls, and slum dwellers, documenting an inescapable world devoid of sentimentality and steeped with peopThe Nether World 1889 , generally regarded as the finest of Gissing s early novels, is a highly dramatic, sometimes violent tale of man s caustic vision shaped by the bitter personal experience of poverty This tale of intrigue depicts life among the artisans, factory girls, and slum dwellers, documenting an inescapable world devoid of sentimentality and steeped with people scheming and struggling to survive With Zolaesque intensity and relentlessness, Gissing lays bare the economic forces which determine the aspirations and expectations of those born to a life of labor About the Series For over 100 years Oxford World s Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe Each affordable volume reflects Oxford s commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up to date bibliographies for further study, and much .

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      126 George Gissing Stephen Gill
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      Posted by:George Gissing Stephen Gill
      Published :2019-02-09T02:49:08+00:00

    1 thought on “The Nether World”

    1. A brilliant, brilliant read - one of the best and most-underrated Victorian novels. Although a bleak story, it examines the lives of the urban poor in 1870s London so brilliantly and paints such real portraits its characters that I can't help but adore this book.

    2. This is a brilliant novel and George Gissing deserves more credit. He should be as famous as Dickens or Eliot. As the title suggests it is about the working class, set in Clerkenwell which was, in the Victorian era,one of the most deprived areas of London. Gissing came from a middle-class background and this shows, but his life was a difficult one and he experienced poverty at first hand. There are many characters, all strongly drawn and if some tend to be a little grotesque, this reflects the h [...]

    3. This evocation of the poorest people in the poorest parts of Victorian London does of course bring Dickens to mind. Yet this has none of young Charles’s sentimentality – we have little hope and no happy ending forced upon the characters. This probably comes from the differing biographies of the authors: Dickens was poor as a child but spent nearly all of his adulthood in affluent circumstances, while Gissing was constantly hard-up. This is reflected in the texture of the book, with the autho [...]

    4. I had read other reviews of this before I started it, and so had been warned that it was bleak, but I hadn’t anticipated quite how bleak it would leave me feeling. The poor are depicted in the main as being hopeless, greedy, criminal, lazy, and profligate. Completely lacking in any moral fibre, they breed excessively and squander their resources on booze, puddings, and worthless entertainments.In a society without the safety nets of a health service or state benefits system, the odds are stack [...]

    5. As other reviewers have written, this is a fascinating sociological document of working class Victorian London. I decided to read this book because of Fredric Jameson's discussion of it in his Political Unconscious. Biographical details matter: Gissing floated between nether- and upper worlds - and his relationship to the working classes was deeply ambivalent.I think it is an interesting move that we never meet any characters from the upper world: these are only shadows. There are only various n [...]

    6. splendour in squalorIt is fortunate indeed that Gissing, while exploring the seediest region of the capital of the British Empire at the close of the 19th century, and relating the loathsome conditions of its denizens, neither lost himself in maudlin meanderings as Dickens was wont to, nor did he, like Hardy, ordain every possible, however improbable, reason for distress to befall a single character. Gissing doles out calamities widely, plus, rather than resorting to prolix ramblings to point ou [...]

    7. OK, let me start by saying that the entire time I was reading this book I was reminded of Dickens. It was his London. The Victorian London, but the poor London. However, Dickens gives me moments of laughter, lots of them, and happy endings for at least some of the characters ( the good characters anyway). But not Gissing, no one laughed during entire book including me, and there were no happy endings for anybody. Dickens seemed to use his novels of the poor, for any who were suffering, for socia [...]

    8. Once again, Gissing astonishes me. Why isn't he more well-known? His writing is superb and his subject matter, the effects of poverty and social oppression, are presented from first-hand knowledge. The grueling hardships of Victorian London's working poor test their character, for better or worse, yes, but it's the unrelenting struggle to obtain enough food and coal for themselves and their children that wears down even the hardiest of souls because ultimately, there is no hope for a better life [...]

    9. In his novel "The Nether World", George Gissing offers an unsentimental, grim, and uncompromising portrayal of life in the London slums in the last third of the nineteenth century. Gissing (1853 -- 1903) was a late Victorian English novelist who deserves to be better known. As a promising young student, Gissing fell in love with and stole to support a prostitute, Helen Harrison ("Nell").After a prison term and a subsequent stay in the United States, Gissing returned to England and married Nell i [...]

    10. I've known of George Gissing's novels by reputation for many years but I was always put off reading them by the impression that they were depressing to the ultimate degree. I finally bit the bullet and read "The Nether World" recently and found that I could hardly put it down - I finished it in half-a-dozen sittings. Yes - the story is depressing, but it has such energy about it that carries the reader with it. Gissing has the gift of making one really care about the characters and hoping that a [...]

    11. George Gissing is an author chronicling Victorian England and, specifically, how the poor lived and coped with their "nether world."It is often said Gissing does not have a plot, but I disagree. I thought The Nether World was well plotted and the people well described. The entire thrust of the novel, unlike those of Dickens, is that once poor, always poor. Opportunities may present themselves, but success is elusive and sometimes impossible. Gissing was trying to call attention to the plight of [...]

    12. Although some readers may find Gissing's pessimism and lack of humour a turn off, his knowledge of what was the reality of the working poor of London, and Clerkenwell in particular, in the 1880s and 1890s is probably second only to Dickens. At times, it feels as if the shadow of Dickens lurks over Gissing - there are several influences at work, and obvious debts - but undoubtedly, 'The Nether World', like the French realist novelists (e.g. Zola) with whom Gissing was contemporary, shows us an un [...]

    13. Okaaaay. Well, that was cheery. I've read New Grub Street and The Odd Women and they weren't exactly a laugh a minute, but here George Gissing really sets new records in 'literature to slit your wrists to'.Don't get me wrong - I really like his books (the three I've read) and this really was a fascinating and (too) realistic portrayal of working class life in Clarkenwell in the late 19th Century. And there was a little added interest for me, in that I work near Clarkenwell. But's just that when [...]

    14. That's really four and a half stars. This is very good, the psychology of the characters complex, the sustained critique of the effects of poverty very cogent. And you've got to love that one of the characters, whose name is "Penelope" but pronounced as three syllables, is called by everyone "Pennyloaf". I smiled every time I read her name despite her (slightly more than averagely) pathetic circumstances.

    15. Loved this book. If you desire to read about London during this time period and can't handle Dickens, this is a good alternative. It's a very realistic story and the author doesn't insult the audience with the need to supply a nice, tidy ending. From what I gather, it's a realistic depiction of what life was like before the dole and welfare state.

    16. An interesting read about the downtrodden in England. Does a good job of showing what living in poverty was like back in this era. Shows how your choices effect your future. Good character development. I enjoyed it and would recommend it if you don't mind a long read.

    17. Written in the late 1800’s, Gissing captures the subtleties of characters; facial expression, body movements, gaze, that tell a story of their own. The characters are full and rich and behave in both expected and unexpected ways. I found this book captivating and a page turner. Set in late 19th century London, many historic places are everyday destinations. A good read.

    18. There is the occasional insight in this work but the author's undisguised contempt for 'the poor' is grotesque and caricatured (and, it strikes me, largely as the result of a poorly imagined story space of which the author has no understanding). I'm not a particular fan of Charles Dickens' work, but it is streets ahead of this long look down the nose at the characters. Do not recommend.

    19. Not one of Gissing's best. There are some fantastic descriptions and analysis of poverty and the poor, but it does become more didactic than anything at some points. As other reviewers have said - very bleak!

    20. 2.5 stars.I’m not sure whether this one is simply a case of ‘wrong novel, wrong time’, or whether this book is as much of a chore for everyone as it was for me. Looking through the top-rated reviews on , it seems that my reaction to this book is emphatically my problem. Most people on this website are singing Gissing’s praises, hailing The Nether World as an underrated masterpiece and comparing him to/declaring him better than Dickens. I don’t really have an opinion on Dickens as of ye [...]

    21. 3.5 stars. In George Gissing I have discovered the cure for Dickens' cartoonish, overly sentimental pap. Here are gritty, honest, realistic depictions of the slums of London. Here are truly empathetic characters who aren't pathetic or patronizing. Here are moments of humor and heartache that never resort to cheap melodrama. Fran Lebowitz once called John O'Hara "the real Fitzgerald." After reading The Nether World, I'd have to borrow that turn-of-phrase and call George Gissing the real Dickens. [...]

    22. This is my very favorite Victorian novel and would definitely be in my top 3 of all time favorite books ever.It is far more brutal, depressing, violent, miserable than anything Dickens wrote. The women characters break your heart, and the sense of hopelessness and despair never gives you a second respite. People starve, there is domestic violence, children die, people live in hovels that have more dust and dirt than furniture or bedding.Thoroughly depressing and grim, but that is precisely why I [...]

    23. I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone, though if you love dickens, or the literature of the industrial revolution or victorian age, absolutely you should read it, as it stands up both as a historical document and (pretty much -- in its own way) as a novel but it was a revelation to me, because it's a pretty factual (fictional) account of life in the 1870s in exactly the area of London where I work every day -- it names the streets, it accurately (I'm told by the introduction) describes hous [...]

    24. I have now read The Nether World, New Grub Street and The Odd Women by George Gissing. Overall, I think The Nether World was the best of the three. Sometimes I find Gissing's writing a bit clunky, particularly when the author steps forward to explain things for his readers. It was quite odd that he felt the need to explain behaviour of his characters, as if they were bushmen from the Kalahari, not working class people from his own capital city. Gissing is superb at bringing his characters to lif [...]

    25. The Nether World depicts lower-class London with a somber realism. All of the characters suffer from and for their deficiencies in character and finance. Whether Clara's delusions of grandeur, Michael and Sidney's idealism, Pennyloaf and Jane's self-destructive altruism, or Joseph and Clem's opportunism, all that is wished for is shattered, and all that is begotten in the nether-world of London has already been determined to fail. Gissing gives the reader a glimpse as to how each character would [...]

    26. This book allows readers to peer into dark alleyways, inhale air thick with smog and smoke, and witness humans struggling for mere survival. In the Nether World, humans don't live, they survive. The novel isn't a pleasant read. As Gissing intended, it is uncomfortable and depressing. He doesn't give his readers a happy ending, hope, or even any possible solutions or answers to the problems facing Britian's working class. Instead, the novels serves as a mere window into a claustrophobic world.

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