George Gissing: A Story of English Realism
George Gissing’s novels sit on the permeable boundary between the diegetic tendencies of 19th-century realism and the mimesis-dominated narratives of modernism. In his early novels, characters deliver barely disguised narratorial comments directly to the reader. But this form of realism is already strained. The self-awareness of Gissing’s art, manifesting in satire and irony, butts up against his research-led approach to writing. This article shows that what emerges in Gissing is a conflict between narrative intrusion, and the desire to displace authority and represent subjectivity at its broadest. This conflict is a synecdoche for proto-modernism.