Category Archives: George Gissing (Victorian novelist)

Roger W. Smith, tribute to Pierre Coustillas (Gissing authority)


roger’s tribute to piere coustilas


Posted here as a PDF document (above) is:

Roger W. Smith, “Tribute to Pierre Coustillas,” Supplement to The Gissing Journal, Volume LIL, Number 4, October 2018

Pierre Coustillas (1930-2018) was a French literary scholar and emeritus professor of English at the University of Lille. He was the world’s foremost authority on the works of the late-Victorian novelist George Gissing.


— Roger W. Smith

   June 2019

“born in exile” (“Some Reflections on the Scholarship of George Gissing”)


Daley, ‘Some Reflections on the Scholarship of Gisisng’ – Classical J


Posted above as a downloadable PDF file is the following article:

“Some Reflections on the Scholarship of George Gissing” by Norma L. Schank Daley, The Classical Journal, 38.1 (October 1942), pp. 21-30



“Hey, Roger. Many thanks for these! All of them were good, but especially the one written by Norma Schank Daley. Her opening paragraph nearly moved me to tears. Not only was the sentiment expressed deeply moving, but her writing is exquisite. I really savored that one. Rarely do I have the pleasure of encountering such elegant scribbling, and hers borders on lapidary. I envy those who can write so well! Thanks again for sending them along.”

— email from Charles Davenport, Jr. September 9, 2017

(Charles Davenport Jr., a long time Gissing enthusiast, is a member of the Editorial Board of the Greensoboro News & Record in Greensboro, NC.)



Note: A major source for Ms. Daley’s article was The Private Life of Henry Maitland, a novel by Morley Roberts (1857-1942), an English novelist. The Private Life of Henry Maitland was based on the life of George Gissing.


— Roger W. Smith

  September 2017

an exchange of emails about George Gissing


Roger W. Smith to Charles Davenport, Jr.

August 6, 2017


Dear Mr. Davenport,

You wrote: “In the realm of fiction, George Gissing is in a league of his own; no other author even comes close.”

— Charles Davenport Jr., “I am what I read,” Greensboro News and Record, August 6, 2017

I am thrilled to find that someone else shares my high opinion of Gissing. Some of his novels are still popular, as you know, but I feel that he does not get — by any measure — the recognition he richly deserves.

I am a long time fan of his and have read many of the novels plus “The Private Papers of Henry Rycroft.”

Thanks for bringing this to your readers’ attention.


Roger W. Smith

New York, NY

P.S. You might get a kick out the following posts of mine:

“George Gissing, book covers”

George Gissing, book covers

“Roger Smith, translation into Spanish of passage from George Gissing’s ‘The Private Papers of Henry Rycroft’ ”

Roger W. Smith, translation into Spanish of passage from George Gissing



Charles Davenport, Jr. to Roger W. Smith

August 7, 2017


Mr. Smith,

It’s a rare and high honor to hear from a fellow Gissing enthusiast! You’ve made my day. “The Private Papers” is probably my all-time favorite book: I weep on one page, and collapse in laughter on the next! No other writer has moved me as deeply or as often as Gissing. I just finished Paul Delany’s “George Gissing: A Life,” which is brilliant, but profoundly sad. It’s hard to believe a writer so gifted — it’s nothing short of necromancy — struggled to pay his bills (and the bills of family members). It’s a cruel, unjust world.

I can’t wait to read the links you provided. How did you hear of my News & Record piece up there in New York?


Charles Davenport Jr.



Roger W. Smith to Charles Davenport, Jr.

August 7, 2017


Dear Mr. Davenport,

Thanks much for your email. I was very glad to hear from you.

Thank you so much for telling me about Paul Delany’s biography of Gissing. I did not know about it.

You undoubtedly know about Gissing scholar Pierre Coustillas. He has published a three volume biography of Gissing, which is intended to be the definitive biography. I have purchased only the first volume so far. I made several stabs at reading it. It is incredibly detailed and also dry. I could not get past the first hundred pages or so.

Like you, I love “The Private Papers of Henry Rycroft.” The diarist is — I am certain — Gissing, which is to say, the book is autobiographical. Among other things, I admired Gissing’s prose style.

I have some difficulty keeping the many novels of Gissing that I have read separate in my mind. They are all good. The starving writer in “New Grub Street” is, of course, Gissing. Has there ever been a truer picture of the literary vocation?

I am eager to read “Workers in the Dawn,” which I understand to have been Gissing’s first novel. I just ordered a copy from an on line bookseller.

I have revised my post

“Roger W. Smith, translation into Spanish of passage from George Gissing.” It is at

Roger W. Smith, translation into Spanish of passage from George Gissing

Thanks again for responding to my message.



Roger W. Smith


note: Mr. Davenport, a long time Gissing enthusiast, is a member of the Editorial Board of the Greensoboro News & Record in Greensboro, NC.


— posted by Roger W. Smith

   August 2017

Roger W. Smith, translation into Spanish of passage from George Gissing


passage from Gissing

Roger’s Gissing translation


Posted here (above) as downloadable PDF documents is an assignment of mine in an advanced class in Spanish grammar and composition taught by Professor Susana Redondo de Feldman, Chairman of the Spanish and Portuguese Department at Columbia University.

The assignment was to translate a lyrical passage from George Gissing’s The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft from English into Spanish. It was a challenging assignment, and a fun and rewarding one.

George Gissing (1857-1903) was an English novelist who — while he has by no means been forgotten and is still read today — should be much better known. The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft is a semi-fictional autobiographical work in which the author casts himself as the editor of the diary of a deceased acquaintance.

I had hitherto been unacquainted with Gissing. The assignment, giving me sudden exposure to Gissing’s prose up close, made me want badly to read him. But, the book from which the passage was taken was not identified. It took me a long time to find which of Gissing’s books the passage came from.

I became a great admirer of Gissing — both as a storyteller in the realistic mode and as a masterful prose stylist (I admired, for example, his impressive vocabulary in The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft) — and have read many of his novels.


— Roger W. Smith

  August 2017



George Gissing, The Private Papers of Henry Rycroft, Chapter XXIII

Every morning when I awake, I thank heaven for silence. This is my orison. I remember the London days when sleep was broken by clash and clang, by roar and shriek, and when my first sense on returning to consciousness was hatred of the life about me. Noises of wood and metal, clattering of wheels, banging of implements, jangling of bells–all such things are bad enough, but worse still is the clamorous human voice. Nothing on earth is more irritating to me than a bellow or scream of idiot mirth, nothing more hateful than a shout or yell of brutal anger. Were it possible, I would never again hear the utterance of a human tongue, save from those few who are dear to me.

Here, wake at what hour I may, early or late, I lie amid gracious stillness. Perchance a horse’s hoof rings rhythmically upon the road; perhaps a dog barks from a neighbour farm; it may be that there comes the far, soft murmur of a train from the ether side of Exe; but these are almost the only sounds that could ever force themselves upon my ear. A voice, at any time of the day, is the rarest thing.

But there is the rustle of branches in the morning breeze; there is the music of a sunny shower against the window; there is the matin song of birds. …



Todas las mañanas cuando me despierto, yo doy gracias a Dios por el silencio. Esto es mi oración. Recuerdo aquellos días londineses, cuando mí sueño se interrumpía por fuertes sonidos metálicos y penetrantes gritos agudos, por ruidos y chillidos, cuando mi primera sensación al recobrar el conocimiento era el de odio hacia la vida que me rodeaba. Ruidos de madera y metal, el traqueteo de ruedas, el golpetazo de utensilios, el cencerro de campanas–cosas semejantes son suficienmente malas, pero aún peor es el clamor de la voz humana. Nada me irrita, nada es más detestable que un bramido o chillido de ira brutal. Si fuera posible, yo no oiría nunca jamás la manifestación de ninguna voz humana, salvo de los pocos que me son queridos.

Aquí–no importa a que hora me despierte, temprano o tarde–reposo en medio de una tranqulidad grata. Quizá los cascos de un caballo resuenen rítmicamente a lo largo del camino; acaso un perro ladre desde una granja vieja; tal vez llegue de lejos del otro lado del Exe el murmullo suave de un tren. Pero estos son casi los únicos sonidos que podrían imponerse a mis oídos. El sonido de una voz, a cualquier hora del día, es algo rarísimo.

Pero hay en cambio el susurro de las ramas en la brisa matinal; hay la música de una lluvia soleada tocando en mi ventana; hay la canción matutina de los pájaros. …

— translation by Roger W. Smith