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The Nether World (Oxford World's Classics) 1st Edition
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Intrusion: A Novel
A loving couple, grieving the loss of their son, finds their marriage in free fall when a beautiful, long-lost acquaintance inserts herself into their lives. Learn More
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Top Customer Reviews
For all these reasons, this world - this nether world - is a world about which the upper and middle classes are happily ignorant. Those born into these lowest levels of humanity often rail about the injustice of being born into such circumstances. However, their cries for social reform, their desperate attempts to better themselves, and their pitiful needs for simple pennies are never really heard or understood by those more comfortably off.
Within this novel, then, Gissing explores the lives of a range of characters as they deal with being born in the nether world. While he focuses on the heart-warming characters of Jane Snowdon and Sidney Kirkwood, Gissing competently develops the storyline of a large number of other Clerkenwell characters whose lives intertwine with Jane's and Sidney's. In his distinct manner, Gissing is mercilessly honest and yet generally compassionate with the characters whose lives he examines. Thus, he offers a glimpse of the slums - full of love, ambition, corruption, greed, and despair - in a manner that many of us would never know otherwise.
Many compare or try to compare this kind of honest look at the rougher side of London with Dickens.Read more ›
Now, in terms of framing the drama, Gissing is, as honest and loyal Sidney Kirkwood professed himself in chapter XXXI too, "not one of those people who use every accident to point a moral, and begin by inventing the moral to suit their own convictions."
While the human baseness and general ordeal of the penurious population laid bare in this volume appalled me all along, its phrasing fascinated me: even those descriptions of the most gruesome environments and reflections on utter anguish are simply gorgeous if astonishing also. For instance:
"On all the doorsteps sat little girls, themselves only just out of infancy, nursing or neglecting bald, red-eyed, doughy-limbed abortions in every stage of babyhood, hapless spawn of diseased humanity, born to embitter and brutalise yet further the lot of those who unwillingly gave them life. With wide, pitiful eyes Jane looked at each group she passed.Read more ›
Central hero of this decently depressing master piece is a qualified worker in the jewelry industry, with some lost illusions about talent in art and with a failed young love.
While still a young man, `he reached the stage of confident and aspiring radicalism, believing in the perfectibility of man, in human brotherhood, in anything you like that is the outcome of a noble heart sheltered by ignorance'. That stage was gone now, `to give place to nothing very satisfactory'. The man tries to stay decent, to have friendships, to help people worse off than he is himself...
Gissing's Pip-equivalent is young Jane, the grandchild of the old man who came back from Ossiland and who is expected to leave something to her. At the outset of the novel she is 13 and she is for all practical purposes a domestic slave in a boarding house, mistreated by a sadistic tyrant of a teenage daughter of the owner.
We get to meet rather many un-nice people down here in the nether world. Poverty is not conducive to social graces, and decency is challenged hard under miserable conditions.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Nether World is a novel about the Victorian poor of London, a community so exhaustively described in novels, that I think I know more about them than I know about poor... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Alexander Kobulnicky
Great writer. Painted a picture of lower-class squalor every bit as vivid as Dickens.Published 3 months ago by Robert A. Barboni
Purchased book for a literature class. It was as expected for literature written at that time period. Basically I enjoyed it.Published 3 months ago by Blondie
Not a book for optimists; that's because Gissing is all about keeping it real. Life in the slums of Victorian England was cruel, harsh, and without hope. Read morePublished 17 months ago by ReasonableGoatPerson
Having given this book three stars in another edition there seems little point in reviewing this again except to comment on the quality of this edition and the free copy. Read morePublished 20 months ago by propertius
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... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Candace Williams
What can I say? Gissing is a great, underappreciated writer. Gissing was a prolific writer and excelled in a variety of genres. Read morePublished on July 27, 2014 by Roger W. Smith
There were times while reading The Nether World when I wanted to send an email to George Gissing, who died 111 years ago, to tell him what a great writer he is. Read morePublished on May 10, 2014 by Dan Carrison