Exploring a hitherto neglected field, Writing Place: Mimesis, Subjectivity and Imagination in the Works of George Gissing is the first monograph to consider the works of George Gissing (1857-1903) in light of the ‘spatial turn’. By exploring how objectivity and subjectivity interact in his work, the book asks: what are the risks of looking for the ‘real’ in Gissing’s places? How does the inherent heterogeneity of Gissing’s observation influence the textual recapitulation of place? In addition to examining canonical texts such as The Nether World (1889), New Grub Street (1891), and The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft (1901), the book analyses the lesser-known novels, short stories, journalism and personal writings of Gissing, in the context of modern spatial studies. The book challenges previously biographical and London-centric accounts of Gissing’s representation of space and place by re-examining seemingly innate contemporaneous geographical demarcations such as the north and the south, the city, suburb, and country, Europe and the world, and re-reading Gissing’s places in the contexts of industrialism, ruralism, the city in literature, and travel writing. Through sustained attention to the ambiguities and contradictions rooted in the form and content of his writing, the book concludes that, ultimately, Gissing’s novels undermine spatial dichotomies by emphasising and celebrating the incongruity of seeming certainties
Dr Rebecca Hutcheon was awarded her PhD in English Literature by the Department of English at the University of Bristol in 2014. She now teaches there, and is also a World Universities Network funded post-doctoral researcher. She has published articles on mapping in Gissing’s The Nether World, the country house motif in late-Victorian literature, and Bakhtin and letters. She is also the co-creator of the smartphone app: Romantic Bristol: Writing the City. Her research interests include: literature and place, narratology and the long nineteenth century, and she is currently working on a book chapter on allusions to Tennyson in Gissing’s fiction.