Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gissing, Vampires (Ugh), and Trollope

I mentioned that you might as well read nothing but Gissing.

One could make Gissing one’s life work. I loved The Nether World, which is one of his best novels about class. There is no escape for most of his lower-class characters, but a few of the slum dwellers who sacrifice themselves to help others are educated, virtuous, and philanthropic. They don't exactly find their rewards, though. If you can’t find Gissing's books at the library (and I can’t), most of his novels are at Project Gutenberg so you can read them on your computer or PDA or Sony Reader.

At Amazon I discovered, with a lot of work, that Gissing’s books are in print. Typing in George Gissing wasn’t enough. I then had to click on George Gissing after clicking on a title to get all of his books to come up. Something has happened to the Amazon database since they “improved” it a few years ago. Jeff Bezos’s book database was the best in the world until it was improved. It's still good, but one has to be very creative. I had to think like an idiot to find a boxed set of Leonard Woolf's autobiographies (finally found it: God knows how).

Instead of reading more Gissing this weekend, I decided to read one of those science fiction mystery series about women with vampire boyfriends. Who on earh would want a vampire boyfriend? Good vampire boyfriends, but a little of that goes a long way. Like 100 pages. There aren’t enough hours to read about women with vampire boyfriends.

After 100 pages I threw down the vampire book in disgust. I needed a classic. Finally I picked up Ralph the Heir. Reading Trollope is like going back to an old boyfriend who writes sensibly about money, marriage, class, and politics. Ralph the Heir, a playboy, doesn't pay his bills for clothes and boots, relying on his great expectations of a legacy. Since his uncle shows no sign of dying, he may have to marry the breeches-maker's daughter, Polly. It's so entertaining. Some people read nothing but Trollope, and though he's not as good as Gissing, he's great in a different way.

1 comment:

Ellen Moody said...

You ought to try _Uncle Silas_ but I suppose you've read it.

E.M.