Friend To Henry James And HG Wells, And Considered By Some In A League With Thomas Hardy, British Novelist GEORGE ROBERT GISSING Nevertheless Remains Uncelebrated Today But His Works Were Popular And Well Loved In His TimeThe Private Papers Of Henry Ryecroft, Perhaps The Most Successful Of His Novels, Is Gissing S Semiautobiographical Tale Of The Struggles Of A Poor Writer Realistic And Unsentimental, This Little Remembered But Thoroughly Enthralling Novel Will Delight Fans Of Victorian Literature This is an interesting read on many levels Is it a epistolary recap of the aging George Gissing is it purely a work of fiction by Gissing or is a combination of both, akin to Goethe s Young Werther Gissing s other novel New Grub Street on my to read list was not as popular as this work So this little volume touched a nerve in happy days of Fin de Siecle pre war Britain of 1903 I know too little to make a judgement if this is autobiographic or not, however he passed away in late 1903 after this was published, I must conclude that a great deal of author must be in these pages.One sees a certain frustration at Ryecroft s elbow and it spills over regularly when he gets carried away on Englishness and on how Continentals really don t understand the soul of the Englishman More often this bitterness reflects on his life what appears for most of his adult life of penury So apart from these odd ramblings I loved the cosiness of his surroundings after what appears to have been a challenging life He explains that he now lives comfortably in his warm cottage in an idyllic rural landscape without the worry of where the next meal may come from He doesn t go into great detail of his former existence but it is never far from his mind His library provide a constant sustenance for his life that you can almost smell the books wonderful must I love the thoughtful sections when the reader with a pulse must take joy in his happy circumstances of late life that has some a smidge of financial security..a wish we all have This is worthy of four stars, it would have been five but the odd British Empire threads prevented that. Henry Ryecroft The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft 1903 was once the most widely read work of the English novelist George Gissing 1857 1903 It was Gissing s own favorite among his works The book appeared in the year of Gissing s death Gissing lived a difficult life which became the basis for much of his over 20 novels As a youth, he was expelled from an exclusive school and imprisoned for stealing to support a prostitute, with whom he subsequently made an unhappy marriage He lived in squalor for many years in the garrets of London while writing prolifically His early novels deal with the urban poor while the latter books include a broader spectrum of characters as Gissing s own situation improved He writes of the commodification of art and of the difficulty of achieving personal autonomy in a commercial culture and in a state of poverty Today, Gissing s most famous work is New Grub Street , a pessimistic story of London literary life.Many readers see Ryecroft as at least partially autobiographical The book is cast in an unusual form It opens with a Preface by Gissing himself G.G which gives the outline of the life of his fictional protagonist For twenty years, Gissing tells the reader, Ryecroft had labored in obscurity in the poor quarters of London attempting to made a living by his pen At the age of 50, Ryecroft received an unexpected testamentary gift which enabled him to leave London and retire to a modest cottage in Exeter accompanied only by an elderly woman domestic Ryecroft enjoyed a few years of peace and contentment in the country before dying of a heart ailment Then, the story goes, the narrator went through Ryecroft s papers and found a diary of his observations and meditations which the narrator edited, organized, and published as Ryecroft s Private Papers The body of the work is organized into four chapters, titled Spring , Summer , Autumn and Winter of Ryecroft s meditations and thoughts Each of these chapters is, in turn, organized into a number of short chapters, some interconnected and some rambling and discrete.Ryecroft muses about his life in the country and how he has found a measure of peace at last Although he is a different type of person in many ways, I thought of Thoreau and Walden in reading Ryecroft s fictitious diary Both Ryecroft and Thoreau love solitude and both spend much time in long walks through the country observing flowers, rivers and meadows, and birds Both characters, Ryecroft than Thoreau, are highly bookish Many of the memorable passages in Gissing s book describe his characters love for books, especially the classics and his experiences in purchasing books as a struggling writer in his garret, carrying them home, reading them and, on occasion, being forced to sell them Ryecroft in his solitude remains enad of his books, not only with rereading them but with their mere sight and even with their smell Ryecroft s musings also involve, as Thoreau s do not, his life as a young writer in London Ryecroft recalls with life of poverty, struggle, and pain, as he tried to eke out a living as a writer.There is a great deal in Ryecroft about the hardships of poverty which sometimes imparts a materialistic cast to the work But Ryecroft is unending in his criticism of a commercial, competitive urban society which, he believes, forces some people to live in squalor and prohibits the development of the mind and heart When he retires to the country, Ryecroft is not wealthy But he does have the means he finds necessary for a life of freedom and independence.In the book, Ryecroft offers his thoughts on many subjects including England, which for all the fault he finds in it he loves dearly, class structure, democracy which he dislikes , the United States, the rise of science, history, nature, his childhood, philosophy, his attitude towards death, books, friendship, and much else Interestingly, there is little in the book on relations with women and on the sexuality which proved to be a source of the highest difficulty for Gissing in his own life The meditations in the book are of a distinctly mixed quality The sections that for me detracted markedly from the book were those at the beginning of the final Winter chapter in which Ryecroft talks interminably of his fondness for English beef and of the qualities of a good pat of butter This gourmandizing is off putting in the context of the book Some readers also find a defensive, critical and defeated tone in Ryecroft On the whole, I think the book tells of a successful effort to attain peace and to accept one s past.I have returned to Ryecroft and to Gissing frequently over the years Ryecroft remains an unusual book about a difficult character who resists easy conceptualization On my latest reading of Ryecroft, I concluded with some reluctance that it was not the equal of the best of Gissing in books such as New Grub Street , Born in Exile or The Odd Women I was less taken with the book in my most recent reading than when I first encountered the book years ago Even so, the writing in the book is eloquent, ornate and most of the time moving I enjoyed reentering Ryecroft s world, hearing his voice again, and sometimes taking issue with him.Robin Friedman Actually 1 2 someone remembering Trollope can t write worse than that Still I have to understand what he finds in British Cusine I have just finished reading The private papers of Henry Ryecroft 1903 Delightful use of language Poor old Gissing was profoundly depressed he is at his best when he describes how miserable he has been And even when he s happy he worries that it probably won t last He also had no use for other human beings When I was reading it I thought Remeron an antidepressant would have helped His life other than his writings is an unmitigated disaster.In the Foreword, Cecil Chisholm volunteers He was one of the bridges between the old ample three volume novel of plot and grandiloquence of Bulmer Lytton, and the freshly observed, loosely constructed psychological novels of our own time Here and there Gissing himself did some modest pioneering on both the realistic and psychological novel Soon after, however, others were doing things far better.Somerset Maugham bettered all Gissing s earnest novels of working class life..the writer s Of human bondage comes closer to the agonies of an ill mated couple tied together by circumstance than any novel Gissing wrote There remains Ryroft Surely this unusual piece of self revelation will find for Gissing something than a paragraph in the history of the English novel Faint praise indeed.But I will definitely read Born in exile and New Grub Street. Really enjoyable and lighter than some of the other novels by this writer Very heavy on irony close to sarcasm Sometimes it seemed like a cross between The Diary of a Nobody and Ed Reardon s Week The radio comedy inspired by New Grub Street At other times it was a collection of essays Either way a great read Don t think of this as a novel but as a collection of personal essays by a fictional character I really liked the first half of the book and then it got dull Though I found the pieces on English cooking funny if the food is good, he says, it doesn t need sauce Still, all through I copied passages many of which made me nod to myself some of these I ve shared below In those days money represented nothing to me, nothing I cared to think about, but the acquisition of books I cannot preserve than a few fragments of what I read, yet read I shall, persistently, rejoicingly Would I gather erudition for a future life Indeed, it no longer troubles me that I forget I have the happiness of the passing moment, and what can mortal ask With a lifetime of dread experience behind me, I say that he who encourages any young man or woman to look for his living to literature, commits no less than a crime No, the public which reads, in any sense of the word worth considering, is very, very small the public which would feel no lack if all book printing ceased to morrow, is enormous. Slow, collection of essays The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft purports to be the papers of a recently deceased writer aspects of it are autobiographical The narrator who is tidying up his dead friend s estate wonders why the hack writer had never written the novel he wanted to, and thinks it might be because Ryecroft could not decide on the form I imagine him shrinking from the thought of a first person volume he would feel it too pretentious he would bid himself wait for the day of riper wisdom The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft Kindle edition What the papers allow Gissing to do is to share what he has of wisdom, some of which is too reminiscent of the BBC Grumpy Old Men series for my taste That program is made for people who don t already have tiresome old relations to bore them witless with opinionated harangues about the evils of the modern world It is deeply depressing to see that Germaine Greer has joined them for the female version of the series To read the rest of my review please visit I kept finding myself copying quotes and sending them to friends I will have to get a copy for myself The 1915 publication I read had great paper A real joy to read.
George Robert Gissing was an English novelist who published twenty three novels between 1880 and 1903 From his early naturalistic works, he developed into one of the most accomplished realists of the late Victorian era.
- 211 pages
- The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft
- George Gissing
- 07 July 2019 George Gissing