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46 REVIEWS 1. This Will Never Do Michael Collie. George Gissing» a Bibliography (Toronto and Buffalo« University of Toronto P; Folkestone ι Dawson, 1975). £7-50. A bibliography worthy of the name should be objective and accurate, not whimsical and careless. Because it fails to meet these requirements , Mr. Collie's will satisfy no one - booksellers, collectors and scholars will perhaps entertain illusions about it for a short while, but the more they use it the more unreliable they will find it. That such a book should have achieved publication is a matter for regret» its author simply did not have the knowledge indispensable for treating such a complex subject. Still this is not the main objection against the volume. Had Mr. Collie kept to the facts he collected, his work would only have sinned by omission and he would have been more or less excusable, as no one can claim to have gathered all the material available. But such is not the case ι not only does he omit facts or twist them to fit in with his pet theories (he too frequently imagines that other Gissing scholars are wrong because his temperament prompts him to see everything from a revisionist point of view), but he invents facts to suit his fancy. He also borrows heavily, without adequate acknowledgement, from his predecessors and has a way of casting a slur on their work which is distinctly unpleasant. The introduction cpnsists in a survey of Gissing's life followed by a discussion of Gissing's relations with his publishers. Factual errors and doubtful statements abound. Thus, we are told that Gissing wrote over a hundred and fifty short stories, that he lived in Siena and other parts of Italy in 1898-99, that he visited Sicily; we are invited to believe that he wrote about a country he scarcely lived in, i.e. England, that he "never bothered tc think about his own business interests, remained ignorant of publishers' practices . . . and was satisfied for many years to sell the copyright outright because he knew he could live on that amount of money." As regards the novelist's relationships with women, Mr. Collie tries to be original by contradicting all the sources available, but he has no source to quote from. He would have us believe that Born in Exile (written at Exeter in I89I) dated back to Gissing's days in London near Baker Street Station, because he is unaware that Gissing occasionally gave his characters names that he had used in previous discarded stories he had failed to complete. As regards the novelist's dealings with his publishers , with one exception, no new research has been done and many opportunities have been missed» no figures are given for the books published by Smith, Elder (we are wrongly informed that the firm's records have been destroyed), A. & C. Black, Lawrence & Bullen, Methuen and Constable - except when the information is available in the publications of John Spiers and the present writer. 47 The bibliography proper is as unreliable as the introduction» inaccuracies in the descriptions of first editions abound, the order followed is neither that of composition nor that of publication , probably because Mr. Collie declares (p. 20) that some dates are not known! Smith, Elder 3/6 reprints of the five novels issued by the firm are invented by Mr. Collie and so is a sixshilling edition of A Life's Morning. The few tables, which could have been extremely useful, are marred by wrong dates« New Grub Street surely did not appear in French in 1911, nor was the French translation of Demos issued by Hachette in 1888. In order to be of interest, a discussion of Gissing's earnings must be based on reliable figures, and Mr. Collie's are often wrong» how could Gissing choose to sell the copyright of Thyrza for £100 in 1887, then sell it again to the same firm for £10 in 1891? Who will believe that Lawrence & Bullen bought the British rights for Born in Exile for £110.10 in I896? Why are some Colonial editions listed and others - the Petherick and Robertson editions in particular - ignored? Even when he has seen a document...


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