A candid portrait of one of England's most celebrated authors
In 1897, at age nineteen, American Brian Ború Dunne was an aspiring journalist, who chanced to meet the Englishman George Gissing at the height of his career as a novelist. He was somewhat awed, but not unduly intimidated, by the renowned writer, and his vigorous personality drew Gissing into many frank and unguarded conversations. Stored away until after Dunne's death, his fully wrought memoirs of these conversations and the description of their meetings are the essence of this finely edited volume.
During their months together in Rome, sometimes in the company of Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells, Dunne was amazed and amused by Gissing's social life among writers and the titled classes, but he also enjoyed their exploration of the city, of cheap cafes and fine restaurants, of music halls and rooming houses and Papal Masses.
With Gissing in Italy is indeed the only portrait we have of the quotidian life, both trivial and important, happy and sad, of George Gissing at this point in his career, observed with the eye of a journalist, by a young man with no other concern than an accurate and lively painting of his own life with an eminent English writer living abroad, freed from the misery of his domestic life.
Paul F. Mattheisen is associate professor of English, SUNY, Binghamton.
Arthur C. Young is professor emeritus of English at Russell Sage College.
Pierre Coustillas is professor of English, University of Lille, France.
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