Towards the Vortex

  • John Sloan


H. G. Wells, in a sympathetic and critically discerning article of 1897, welcomed what he saw to be a ‘steady elimination’ of the ‘exponent character’ from Gissing’s novels, and a ‘fading with their progress’ of the quality of bias towards ‘the hopeless ideal of scholarly refinement’.1 This partiality had, in Wells’s view, diminished the reality and truthfulness of Gissing’s earlier work. In The Whirlpool, which appeared that year, Wells discovered a distinct turning away from ‘the insufficiency of the cultivated life and its necessary insincerities’ to ‘the vivid appreciation of things as they are’.2 Gissing promptly corrected his friend’s misinterpretation of his hero’s enthusiasm for athleticism and Empire, claiming that ’in all he says, he is simply expressing his hopeless recognition of facts which fill him with disgust’:

Thus and thus — says he — is the world going; no refusing to see it; it stares us in the eye; but what a course for it to take! — He talks with a little throwing-up of the arm, and in a voice of quiet sarcasm.3


Burning Vortex Nether World Amid Coherence 


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  1. 17.
    Gillian Tindall, ‘Introduction’ to In the Year of Jubilee (1976) p. xvi.Google Scholar
  2. 18.
    Robert L. Selig, ‘A Sad Heart at the Late-Victorian Culture Market: George Gissing’s In the Year of Jubilee’, Studies in English Literature, 1500–1900 (Autumn 1969 ) 703–20.Google Scholar
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    Françoise Basch, Relative Creatures: Victorian Women in Society and the Novel 1837–67, trans. Anthony Rudolf (1974) p. 246.Google Scholar
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    Patrick Parrinder, ‘Introduction’ to The Whirlpool (1977) p. xvi.Google Scholar
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    Quoted by F. W. J. Hemmings, ‘The Realist and the Naturalist Movement in France’, The Age of Realism (1974) p. 159.Google Scholar
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    Henry James, The Art of the Novel, ed. Richard P. Blackmur (1934) p. 145.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© John Sloan 1989

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Sloan
    • 1
  1. 1.Lecturer in EnglishBalliol CollegeOxfordUK

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