Sunday, July 14, 2019

200. Born in Exile

Born in Exile
George Gissing
1892
Around 450 pages












200. A mere 801 to go! Thank you to those of you who have stuck with me for 200 novels that vary oh so greatly in quality. For those of you who haven't read all 200 of my posts: get cracking, scumbags. I mean...welcome, gentle readers.

Godwin Peak, otherwise known as Whiny McWhinyson-Peak, is a man of superior intellect who is born to socially inferior circumstances. So of course as soon as I began this novel I was instantly convulsing on the floor, tormented by Knut Hamsun flashbacks.  Godwin is perhaps the original hipster, despising certain novels without reading them simply because they are popular. On the whole, though, I think hipsters are fonder of women than Godwin is. Anyway, Godwin's Cockney uncle decides to open an eating house near Godwin's college. Godwin is so humiliated by this that he quits school. Still, he pines to be a part of the upper class. He decides to do this by wooing Sidwell Warricombe, a deeply religious woman. In the grand tradition of idyllic courtship, this involves lying to the woman constantly.

An unrecognized genius tethered to the lower social class because of his birth, doomed to obscurity among the ignorant masses...male authors sure do love spinning that tale. I wouldn't mind so much if there was a dash of humor involved, but I had the feeling Godwin didn't know how to laugh. Gissing is a talented writer, so I was never bored, but I also didn't like a single character.

The previous book on the List, The Diary of a Nobody, also tackled class struggles, but it did this by pointing out absurdities in funny ways. I much preferred that to reading Godwin bitch and moan for 450 pages.

RATING: ***--

Interesting Facts:

Gissing has me stumped on this one. Um, the 1001 book app says this novel was published in 1891, but all the other sources I found say 1892. That's interesting, right?

I'll see myself out.

UP NEXT: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman. A real shorty, so I should have this up soon.

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