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ELT 40:4 1997 vidual struggle. It is no less surprising to find so recent a book depending for its references on A Writer's Diary and Collected Essays, versions of Woolf's texts produced by Leonard Woolf, now replaced by Anne Olivier Bell's edition of the complete diary and by Andrew McNeillie's superbly edited The Essays of Virginia Woolf. And Reese is likewise unaware, as are some other recent Woolf critics, of Blackwell's Shakespeare Head Press Edition of Woolf s canon whose meticulously edited scholarly texts have supplanted the early and defective American trade editions cited here. Lastly, the title inadequately represents the actual interests and larger ambitions of Reese's thoughtful study, which is as much concerned with Woolf's recasting of aesthetic values as social ones. J. H. Stape ________________ Kyoto University Gissing Letters, 9 The Collected Letters of George Gissing: Volume Nine 1902-1903. Paul F. Mattheisen, Arthur C. Young, Pierre Coustillas, eds. Athens: Ohio University Press, 1996. xxxv + 451 pp. $70.00 "A SAD ENDING to a sad life" is how the editors of this last volume of Gissing's letters aptly describe its story. There is little in his last fifteen months to lift the spirits. His sense of isolation in the Basque country of southern France, failing health, frustration over being unable to work more than a few hours a day, and financial anxieties were all evident in the previous volume, but they now cast longer shadows. Yet his one letter to Gabrielle Fleury, the French woman whom he regards as his wife and who is seldom far from his side, shows that their love is still strong. Inevitably his family in England—his estranged wife Edith and their two sons, his mother and sisters Margaret and Ellen, and his brother Algernon—figures less importantly now than in previous volumes (though the editors remind us that all Gissing's letters to them may not have survived). He dreams of returning home for a visit, but in the end remains an exile in a country that seems hardly to interest him. He reads journals from home but makes few references in his letters to public events in either England or France. What social life he has is largely with the English people in his area, some of whom have intellectual attainments and, like him, are there for the climate. A good number of this group are identified in the notes. Whatever his actual isolation from the English literary scene, Gissing's life as an author keeps him in touch with it. The first letter in the volume is to his agent James Pinker, asking about arrangements for 466 Book reviews the serialization in the Fortnightly Review of "The Author at Grass," which we know as The Private Papers of Henry Ryecroft. Gissing says it is the best thing he has done or is likely to do, and of all his works the most likely to last. To Frederic Harrison, his early mentor, he insists that the book is not truly an autobiography, but "much more an aspiration than a memory." We can appreciate Gissing's reluctance to have his text canvassed for biographical detail or mere literary gossip. One of the traits we admire most in him is his unwillingness to market a literary persona along with his writing. He expected readers to be interested in his books rather than his life, past or present. He granted few interviews. And yet he was not churlishly self-protective. His last letter in the volume, written less than a month before his death, replies helpfully to an unknown correspondent 's queries about his travel book—By the Ionian Sea—and says where a photograph of himself can be obtained. He notes that there is no printed account of his life, and adds that such information should wait till after a writer's death—"if even then it is really called for." If Gissing did not attempt to inflate his literary reputation by creating a public persona, neither was he guilty of exaggerating the importance of everything he wrote. From previous volumes we know that after making substantial progress on a work he might...


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