Mr Gissing has done a heroic and probably a useful thing in making this abridgment of Forster's Life of Dickens. Useful, because all helps and incitements towards a knowledge ofDickens are to be welcomed; heroic, because the very act ofabridgment must have cost the abridger incessant pangs. Nothing but a stoical sense of duty could have sustained Mr Gissing through his task of rejection and compression. He has reduced by two-thirds the bulk of Forster's work, and for all true lovers of Dickens he has reduced its delightfulness in very much the same proportion. Yet it was doubtless well that the thing should be done. 'In our days of little leisure,' says Mr Gissing in his preface, 'great biographies are too commonly "taken as read." Many who would like to make acquaintance with Forster's work are deterred by its length.' This is true; and it is better that such people should learn to know Dickens's personality in Mr Gissing's judicious pages than that they should remain unacquainted with it. But one chiefuse ofthe book,

we hope and believe, will be to send readers on to the unabridged Forster. Mr Gissing has very wisely 'made it his guiding principle to preserve as much as possible ofthat autobiographic matter which Forster so largely drew upon.' Yet it is precisely here that he has had to make enormous sacrifices. He was bound, of course, to give the facts and dates, the skeleton, ofDickens's career; and so much space is occupied by these dry bones that the flesh of living utterance in which Forster had clothed them is sadly reduced. This process ofmaceration, however inevitable, must, we repeat, have been very distressing to so true a Dickens-lover as Mr Gissing has proved himsel£

Is not Dickens here describing the characteristic phenomenon which renders possible what we call realism in fiction? The widest observation must be fractional; but from the segments, of curves it presents, the man of genius knows how to complete the figure, accurately and convincingly.