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59 GISSING'S SHORT STORIES: A BIBLIOGRAPHY By Pierre Coustillas (University of Paris) I. INTRODUCTI ON Gissing's short stories are virtually untrodden ground for the critics. Though a good deal of attention has been paid to his novels, his shorter fictional writings have been either unperceptively examined or hardly considered at all. Thus, Frank Swinnerton in his deprecating book on Gissing has a chapter devoted to the subject but he never tries to do it justice. For one thing, THE PAYING GUEST and SLEEPING FIRES are irrelevantly annexed, and, on the other hand, the author stultifies himself by declaring that Gissing's short stories do not essentially differ in technique from his three-volume novels. He starts with the purpose of bringing out the elder writer's qualities as a narrator and character-drawer but constantly lapses into negative remarks which make the final statement that the stories are smooth and gracefully written both unexpected and unproved. As for Mabel Collins Donnelly, she confidently asserts in her critical biography of Gissing that "most of the stories show a high degree of technical competence, and [that] to dismiss them as mere vignettes of two classes, the proletariat and the lower middle class, is like dismissing Maupassant because he wrote about so many Normans." Yet, characteristically enough, the one page she devotes to them is relegated to an appendix. For want of anything better one has to be content with the press-reviews of the various collections, the few pages by Thomas Seccombe in his introduction to THE HOUSE OF COBWEBS, or better still the recent article by J. M. Mitchell, "Notes on George Gissing's Short Stories," published in the Tokyo STUDIES IN ENGLISH LITERATURE (March 1962), which constitutes the first sympathetic attempt at a revaluation. Perhaps the lack of interest in the matter can be accounted for by the fact that the stories themselves are not easily available, though nearly all of them were reissued in book form before the second word war. The most urgent need, after the reprinting of the stories themselves, is bibliographical and biographical information about them—when they were written, the reviews and newspapers that accepted them. So the present article merely aims at supplying the factual substratum required for a comprehensive study of Gissing's art as a short story writer. Some of the stories were absolutely forgotten. Thus of "Mr. Brogden, City Clerk" no mention whatsoever is to be found in the Diary, or the voluminous correspondence. By going through the files of the magazines, every single story which was later issued in volume form has been traced back to its original printing. With the aid of the Diary and the correspondence, published or in manuscript, it has been possible in most cases to provide the date of composition. Fortunately, Gissing's letters to his literary agents, William Morris Colles and James B. Pinker, have been preserved and the story of many a tale can be reconstructed from its conception to its publication, through its being sent to this or that magazine and the subsequent proofreading. The following bibliography cannot pretend to be absolutely complete. Further details might be wanted about the Japanese translations and some American reprints in journals may have been overlooked. Also, the file having been destroyed at the British Museum—which apparently possessed the only numbers extant for 1895 and 1896—LLOYDS' LONDON MAGAZINE has failed to yield the two or three short stories by Gissing which it contains. For "A Freak of Nature," written on 7 and 60 8 March 1835, published in the same year, we know that he received fl5, less the usual ten per cent agent's commission, i.e. f13.10.0, and for "Joseph," a 2000 word story, written on 9 March 1336, nine guineas, after deduction of Colles' share. The typescript of the short story, however, is certainly in private hands. It was sold in the late 1920's and is ten pages long. Gissing's accounts also record a sum of f4.2.0 for 1895 received from LLOYDS and this sum very likely corresponds to a short story or a sketch. On the contrary, a story, "The Return of...


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