George Gissing's novels usually treat of some social problem, but one would not say that they are of the morbid kind. One gets the idea rather that his purpose is to show that the debased and the exalted have like longings, like aspirations, like souls. In his novel of The Unclassed, the heroine is an outcast who is led by her love for a man who has unselfishly befriended her to turn from her old life and to undergo hardship and privation to win his esteem. He, knowing all the circumstances ofher life, grows to love her and in the end marries her. Thus, the heroine is something like Tess, but the hero is not an Angel Clare. Neither of the characters is typical. The life led by such a woman as Ida Starr speedily destroys strength of character and refinement. To preserve them argues a rare nature-one ofthe most opposing qualities. But the principal idea in the book, though it is not obtruded in Sarah
Grand's brutal fashion, is that a man risks no more in marrying a woman that has fallen from grace than a woman risks in the very common case of marrying a man who has repeatedly yielded to temptation. The book is written with fine skill, the characters are drawn with power, and are quick with life, and one obtains an inkling of the struggle of the 'odd women' in London. George Gissing has made a scientific study of men and women and their relation to the artificial life of the end of the nineteenth century. He is fearless and true, but he has kept the element of hope and lets his readers share it with him. All his stories teach by their influence the great lesson of self-conquest and self-sacrifice. In these days ofwild writing about the new woman, her sphere and her mission, it is good to read a dispassionate statement on the woman question.