Approaching its subject both contextually and comparatively, George Gissing and the Woman Question reads Gissing's novels, short stories and personal writings as a crux in European fiction's formulations of gender and sexuality. The collection places Gissing alongside nineteenth- and twentieth-century authors as diverse as Paul Bourget, Ella Hepworth Dixon, May Sinclair and Theodore Dreiser, theorizing the ways in which late-Victorian sexual difference is challenged, explored and performed in Gissing's work. In addition to analyzing the major novels, essays make a case for Gissing as a significant short story writer and address Gissing's own life and afterlife in ways that avoid biographical mimetics. The contributors also place Gissing's work in relation to discourses of subjectivity and intersubjectivity, identity, public space, class and labour, especially literary production. Increasingly viewed as a key chronicler of the late Victorian period's various redefinitions of sexual difference, Gissing is here recognized as a sincere, uncompromising chronicler of social change.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction: George Gissing and the woman question, Simon J. James and Christine Huguet; Part I Gissing’s Complex Discourse of (New) Womanhood: Gissing and prostitution, David Grylls; Gissing and women in the 1890s: the conditions and consequences of narrative sympathy, Constance D. Harsh; Gissing’s failed new men: masculinity in The Odd Women, Tara MacDonald; Gissing’s Nell: her body and his text, Roger Milbrandt; At high pressure? The spinster and the costs of independence in Gissing’s short stories, 1894-1903, Emma Liggins; Domesticity and discipline in Gissing’s short fiction, Rosemary Jann; It’s ’ard on a feller: female violence and the culture of refinement in Gissing’s The Nether World, Anthony Patterson. Part II Gissing’s Voice: A Comparatist Assessment: ’What is more vulgar than the ideal of novelists?’: the metaliterary ghost in The Odd Women, Cristina Ceron; Rewriting the addict: Gissings’s challenge to fin-de-siècle representations of the female alcoholic in The Nether World, Debbie Harrison; Knowing shopgirls: Monica Madden and Gissing’s refusal, Adrienne Munich; Women of letters: from New Grub Street to The Story of a Modern Woman, Maria Teresa Chialant; The solipsistic heroine in 1897: George Gissing’s The Whirlpool and May Sinclair’s Audrey Craven, Diana Maltz; ’Intriguing plebians’ and hypergamous desire: Paul Bourget’s Le Disciple and Born in Exile, M.D. Allen; Bibliography; Index.
Christine Huguet is a Senior Lecturer at Université Charles-de-Gaulle Lille 3, France. She has edited volumes of essays on Gissing, George Moore and Charles Dickens. Simon J. James is Professor of Victorian Literature at the Department of English Studies, Durham University, UK. He is the author of Unsettled Accounts: Money and Narrative in the Novels of George Gissing.