Printer Friendly

"All she knew was, that she wished to live": late-Victorian realism, liberal-feminist ideals, and George Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee.

Toward the beginning of In the Year of the Jubilee, George Gissing's 1894 novel about a young, middle-class woman who struggles with her identity in a non-traditional marriage, the narrator draws for his readers a picture of the heroine, Nancy Lord. Through his external view of her, the narrator characterizes Nancy as happy and healthy, "a well-grown girl of three and twenty, with the complexion and the mould of form which indicate, whatever else, habitual nourishment on good and plenteous food" (12). From this view, Nancy seems content, but once the perspective shifts from that of the narrator to that of Nancy herself, a somewhat different picture emerges: "Nancy hated it," the narration reads. "She would have preferred to live even in a poor and grimy street which neighboured the main track of business and pleasure. Here she had spent as much of her life as she remembered,--from the end of her third year." Living in a middle-class world where there are few opportunities for single women other than marriage leaves Nancy feeling confused and frustrated about her future. Despite her education at a well-reputed day-school, she is subject to her father's ideals about roles for women, and, as he imposes his plan that she will be supported by him until she marries, Nancy realizes that this mode of living is unacceptable to her. While she is unsure about how to live her life as an independent woman, she does know one thing. "All she knew was, that she wished to live, and not merely to vegetate" (14).

Given this early focus on Nancy' s awareness of the conditions of her life and her attempt to assert agency in a world that does not value her independence, discussion of Gissing's representation of woman' s agency should be central to criticism about Jubilee. Yet the limited criticism about this novel more often focuses on Gissing's satire of middle-class life, and, when these articles do discuss Nancy's status as a woman, they usually characterize her as a female character who fails to assert agency in any significant manner. The sole exception to this general trend in Jubilee criticism is Constance Harsh's 1994 article, "Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee and the Epistemology of Resistance," which reads the novel as a more sympathetic representation of woman's agency than most critics acknowledge. Correctly characterizing most criticism of Gissing's work as obsessively occupied with establishing a "stable authorial point of view" for Gissing through biographical criticism that identifies him with his male characters, Harsh argues that, in Jubilee, we see how the lack of narrative control most critics attribute to Gissing's strong identification with his male characters actually functions to create space for expression of agency by Nancy (854-55). Harsh identifies three ways in which Gissing makes Nancy the central character in the book, as central as her male partner Lionel Tarrant: he thematically associates Nancy with modernity through her attendance at the Jubilee celebration, which suggests that she is capable of feminist revolt; he builds her character through "free indirect discourse," which results in an "epistemology of resistance" on the part of Nancy; and he depicts Nancy as essentially female, aware of "woman's biological destiny," which becomes a way for her to resist Lionel Tarrant's masculinist perspective at the end of the novel.

Harsh does much to shift the attention of Jubilee criticism to a detailed discussion of Nancy' s agency, but her analysis of the novel does not address how Gissing's representation of Nancy in Jubilee fits into the wider range of representations of woman's agency seen across his larger body of work. While a discussion of all of Gissing's novels and the women in them is beyond the scope of this article, a more direct placement of Jubilee in relation to the development of Gissing's representations of women over the course of his career is possible-and necessary for an accurate measure of the degree of agency asserted by Nancy in Jubilee. This essay looks at Jubilee in contrast to The Nether World (1889), a good representative text for Gissing's early work focusing on the working class, and The Odd Women (1893), Gissing's best known novel on the "Woman Question." Further, by considering Jubilee within this broader context, we can see the ways in which Gissing's representation of woman's agency reflects new developments in nineteenth-century literary style, especially the influence of the liberal-feminist perspective on realism in the 1890s. Our own twenty-first-century ways of reading Jubilee will be strengthened by this historical context, since this context shows why Jubilee fails to be fully feminist but also how it occasionally succeeds in its representations of woman's agency.

As critics such as Gail Cunningham (The New Woman and the Victorian Novel, 1978) and Rita Kranidis (Subversive Discourse: The Cultural Production of Late Victorian Feminist Novels, 1995) have shown, Gissing, like other male authors working in the late-Victorian period, was faced with the reality that his work was subject to the close scrutiny of critics, each of whom had his or her own perspective about what constituted realistic representation, still the dominant literary style as the nineteenth century came to a close. Having already negotiated such variations on traditional realism as naturalism and psychological realism, in the 1890s, Gissing and other male authors had to negotiate yet another form of realism: that seen in works by New Woman novelists. (2) In fact, it was not simply New Woman novelists who exerted influence on male authors of the period; in the liberal-feminist periodicals of the time, especially Shafts and The Woman's Herald, we find a systematic reviewing apparatus, in which criteria for a liberal-feminist version of realism was applied to the works of these male authors. (3) Though the reviews in these magazines could not have exerted influence on authors to the same degree that the more numerous and widely accessible mainstream reviews did, there is evidence that some male authors working in the period had access to liberal-feminist reviews of their work, or knew the liberal-feminist reviewers themselves. Gissing, for example, read the review of The Odd Women that ran in The Woman's Herald and was pleased with it (Collected Letters 5:120), and Hardy knew M. E. Haweis, who wrote a review of Tess of the d'Urbervilles for the same magazine (Letters 2:36, 59).

For liberal-feminist critics, "realism" meant the realistic representation of women and the conditions of their lives, a definition that was distinctly different from more traditional definitions of the word. As recent critical studies of nineteenth-century realism show, the more dominant definition of realism was one with a somewhat broader vision of human experience, represented through detailed, external description. (4) Still, feminists of the time argued that this broad vision of human experience was far from complete, since it routinely ignored the conditions of women's lives, especially the conditions endured by modern women. As part of the realistic representation of these conditions, liberal feminists expected to see representation of woman's agency, which was achieved through a balance of three narrative strategies: internal perspective (or "free indirect discourse," as narratologists refer to it), dialogue, and description of characters' actions. These narrative strategies correspond to the three modes of expressing agency valued by liberal feminists: increased consciousness (as seen through internal perspective), the spoken word (as seen through dialogue), and physical actions (as seen through description of characters' actions).

Even as early as the first issue of Shafts, one finds the magazine articulating its criteria for the realistic representation of woman's agency. In an article about the support for the women's rights movement shown by Meredith, "Mr. George Meredith on Women's Status," the author "Dole" identifies Meredith as "one who is helping Progressive Women" and "a friend of woman's liberty quite as hearty as J. S. Mill" and also claims that "[s]ince Mill died, no man's heart has felt so strongly, nor man's brain expressed with equal force and wit the disabilities of women." Dole then analyzes Meredith's work, admiring him for his ability to combine artistic style and socially-aware content, a central tenet in the liberal-feminist literary aesthetic. Meredith's novels, according to Dole, are both books with "narrative form" and "philosophical treatises on life, as it develops in the upper middle-class in England." Dole then continues to discuss specific narrative strategies in Meredith's work, commending him for the way in which he allows readers to hear women's "internal sentiments," a more general word for internal perspective. Furthermore, Dole tells us that Meredith "does not admire" the "Womanly Woman," who "occupies herself merely in picking up the dropped stitches of other people, or in lubricating the wheels of her domestic machinery," suggesting that Meredith values action on the part of women. Finally, Dole indicates that Meredith understands the importance of the spoken word in expressions of woman's agency, since his "beautiful rebel" Diana "rebukes" those women who are content to cave in to the oppressive conditions of the present (8). These criteria for the realistic representation of woman's agency also can be found in other reviews written for Shafts about novels by male authors of the period. (5)

The Woman's Herald, too, articulates the three-part definition of agency found in Shafts, perhaps most clearly in an article on "Women in Fiction" by M. H. Krout, who sketches out a literary tradition devoted to the accurate representation of women. In outlining this tradition, Krout identifies Jane Eyre as the first heroine in nineteenth-century British literature who "thought and spoke and conducted herself in fiction as a flesh-and-blood creature would have been apt to do in like surroundings and under like circumstances" (485). This description, with its emphasis on thought, speech, and action, expresses well the definition seen in Shafts' s article on Meredith; The Woman's Herald commends Gissing for using at least part of this three-part definition in a review of The Odd Women, titled "A Study in Average Women," which praises Gissing for his use of dialogue as a method for building strong female characters. The review goes so far as to say that Gissing's work is more realistic than even Sarah Grand's Heavenly Twins; this is high praise, given the regularity with which the magazine wrote about and approved of Grand's work. (6) Of The Odd Women, the reviewer writes:
   No novel perhaps, not even "The Heavenly Twins" [...] has treated
   more exhaustively and more adequately the whole position of women
   [...] It is a real environment, a living circle of characters, to
   which Mr. Gissing introduces us. His characters are not the animated
   abstractions, the wire-pulled puppets, which so often make up the
   dramatis persona of the novelist with a purpose [...] Mr.
   Gissing is a realist, a faithful-perhaps an overfaithful--painter of
   the manners and lives of a certain section of our present-day
   society [...] But, with all his minuteness of vision [...] Mr.
   Gissing is never really prodigal of detail or wearisome in his
   realism. His are the secrets of selection and of suggestion. (281)

After delivering this praise, the reviewer specifically discusses Gissing's tendency to use dialogue to show the resistance of women to cultural norms that support their subordination. First, the reviewer cites a conversation between Virginia and Alice Madden, who discuss how to get by on the meagre savings they have (281), then turns to Rhoda Nunn, who not only can talk about the desperate conditions of women's lives, but also can do something about it. "This Miss Nunn," writes the reviewer, "is the most striking character in the book-one of the most striking characters in recent fiction [ ... ] A keen opponent of marriage, she was never tired of preaching the personal completeness of every woman; and the conversations in which she shares are as suggestive and stimulating as anything upon the subject of woman's position that has lately appeared" (281). The reviewer iterates the importance of dialogue when summing up the strengths of the novel, saying that it is the "conversations-conversations which, although almost entirely polemical, seem, nevertheless, for some reason, never to overstep the limits of the novelist's art" that are the most important aspect of the book, more important than the actual tragedy of the unequal marriage of Monica Madden and her husband. Utimately, the reviewer says, all the "incidents and episodes" of the novel, such as the marriage of Monica and her husband, are used to capture the lives of the characters in the novel. Gissing does this so well that the reviewer believes The Odd Women to be "as rich and varied a picture of modern life as any novelist has given us" (282).

The attention given to dialogue, especially as a method for resisting cultural norms that support the subordination of women, shows the importance of particular narrative strategies to the new realistic style advocated by liberal-feminist literary critics, and this attention to dialogue can also be found in another review of The Odd Women, by Clementina Black. While Black' s review ran in The Illustrated London News, a decidedly mainstream magazine, Black herself had strong ties to the liberal-feminist community. Known for her advocacy on working-class women's issues, Black often expresses a perspective in her reviews in mainstream newspapers and magazines that is as feminist as those found in deliberately feminist periodicals. In her review of The Odd Women, Black not only addresses the issue of Gissing's use of dialogue to get a feminist message across to readers, but also she connects his use of dialogue to his use of the other modes of expressing agency, including increased consciousness and physical actions. She opens her review with the claim that The Odd Women is "a distinct advance upon anything which [Gissing] has done yet" (222), in part because he covers such a wide array of odd women, some of whom have unhappy lives but others who "make the bright spot in a gloomy picture" because they are able to work together and support themselves. Black then draws attention to Gissing's use of dialogue, especially between these successful women, as one of the real achievements of the novel. She writes,
   In the conversations of these women is contained the argumentative
   kernel of the book. Mr. Gissing has succeeded in the feat, so often
   attempted in the modern novel, but so seldom achieved, of giving to
   discussions of social problems the twofold interest attaching to
   them in real life-an interest, namely, in the thing said, for its
   own sake, and an interest in it as a display of character on the
   part of the person saying it. (223)

In other words, dialogue becomes a way of building character, but it also retains its own worth-in this case, the ability to express a feminist message.

While neither Shafts nor The Woman's Herald reviewed Jubilee, this is not particularly surprising, given that both magazines gave limited space to novels by male authors, reviewing only those novels they thought would be most popular with their readers. Still, one imagines that liberal feminists would have applied the same criteria to Jubilee that they had to The Odd Women; by using their criteria for realistic representation of woman' s agency, we can see the partial, but not complete, success Gissing achieved with Jubilee. By incorporating some of the narrative strategies and modes of expressing agency valued by liberal-feminist critics, Gissing produced a novel that represented a woman with more agency than his earlier, working-class female characters but with less agency than perhaps hoped for by liberal-feminist critics of the 1890s.

As is typical of Gissing's novels, Jubilee focuses on an ensemble cast of characters, some of whom are characterized through bits of their internal perspectives early in the story, but it is Nancy Lord who gets the first instance of sustained internal perspective, making her a potentially central character in the novel. Internal perspective is not the only criterion for establishing centrality; the relationship between characters in the story is another factor, and, in fact, the first instance of Nancy's sustained internal perspective is preceded by scenes in which she is introduced through the dialogue of other characters (8-9), as well as through the perspective of the narrator (12-13). Still, to use Nancy's internal perspective so early in the novel is significant, since it seems to answer the liberal-feminist ideal that to represent human life in the late-Victorian period, one needed to show women's increased consciousness as well as men's.

In contrast to the male/female relationships depicted in The Nether World (Sidney and Jane) and The Odd Women (Everard and Rhoda), where the internal perspective of the male half of the pair introduces the relationship and typically dominates scenes in which the emotions of the relationship are the focus, in Jubilee, it is Nancy's internal perspective that introduces the relationship between her and Lionel, suggesting that perhaps Jubilee will be even more feminist than Gissing's previous work. While Lionel's character remains largely undefined until after he proposes to Nancy, almost 150 pages into the book, Nancy's perspective defines the relationship early on. During Nancy's first significant meeting with Lionel, on the beach while she is on holiday with friends, Nancy is somewhat startled by Lionel's presence there. She remains quiet during the conversation her friends have with him and later realizes that although she has previously thought Lionel too pompous to waste her time with, the "physical attraction of which she had always been conscious in Tarrant's presence seemed to have grown stronger since she had dismissed him from her mind." In contrast to Luckworth Crewe, the man who has been courting her in London, Nancy believes that Lionel is a better choice, for she now feels "only a contemptuous distaste for the coarse vitality and vigour, whereto she had half surrendered herself, when hopeless of the more ambitious desire" (113).

The next time Nancy sees Lionel, she notices his air of superiority and, at first, utters hostile replies to his questions, but, remembering that Lionel is a better catch than Luckworth and upon hearing Lionel flatter her intelligence, Nancy warms to him (114). Still, some uncertainty about Lionel remains in Nancy's mind, and, during another meeting with him, Nancy's internal perspective reveals this uncertainty. When Lionel asks whether Nancy will walk with him alone in the country, an act that might be frowned upon by her chaperone Mrs. Morgan, a shift from the narrator's internal perspective to Nancy's highlights this concern.
   In this moment her thoughts had turned to Luckworth Crewe, and she
   was asking herself why this invitation of Tarrant's affected her so
   very differently from anything she had felt when Crewe begged her to
   meet him in London. With him she could go anywhere, enjoying a
   genuine independence, a complete self-confidence, thinking her
   unconventional behaviour merely good fun. Tarrant's proposal
   startled her. She was not the mistress of the situation, as when
   trifling with Crewe. A sense of peril caused her heart to beat
   quickly. (118)

Nancy's internal perspective, then, is more prevalent than Lionel's in the early depictions of their relationship, but it is true that following the narrator's characterization of Lionel at the beginning of Part III (appropriately titled "Into Bondage") to capture what marriage will mean for both Lionel and Nancy, Lionel's internal perspective begins to dominate scenes between him and Nancy. This shift in internal perspective validates the charge by literary critics such as Selig, Sloan, and Harman that Gissing allows a male character to usurp the power of his female protagonist, and, from this point to the end of the novel, the struggle between Nancy and Lionel (and their perspectives on marriage) intensifies. While I agree with Constance Harsh's argument that the usurpation of Nancy's perspective by Lionel Tarrant is not absolute, and that the narrator's acceptance of Nancy' s perspective, expressed through free indirect discourse, makes Nancy a character we should privilege (864-65), I believe that it is the combination of internal perspective with other narrative strategies, especially dialogue, rather than the instances of internal perspective alone, that initially makes Nancy a "center of consciousness" in the novel. I will return to the issue of whose perspective controls the ending of the novel later, but, for now, I would like to discuss in detail the movement between Nancy's internal perspective and her dialogue early in the novel, since this movement shows why we might expect Nancy to assert agency throughout the course of the novel.

As I have already argued, Gissing's use of internal perspective to introduce Nancy is one factor marking her as a potentially central character of the novel, and, as we learn from his description of her, another reason for readers to think she is central is because she is the one character depicted at the beginning of the novel who feels compelled to resist middle-class life. Early in the novel, Nancy's resistance to cultural norms that support the subordination of women is aimed directly at her father, who seeks to keep Nancy close to home so that she will marry his business partner, Samuel Barmby. Having established Nancy's independence of mind through use of internal perspective, Gissing then uses dialogue to build her character, and he uses internal perspective and dialogue in combination to effective ends, showing that agency can, and sometimes must, be expressed through multiple methods. The introduction of Nancy through internal perspective is quickly followed by a scene in which Nancy discusses, with her friend Jessica Morgan, her difficulties with her father and her wish to break out of her everyday world by attending the Jubilee celebration (17-18) and then a scene in which Nancy confronts her father directly about going to the Jubilee (2729). The confidence gained by Nancy through her awareness of the conditions of her life, shown through internal perspective, is a precursor to her acts of resistance through the spoken word. She thinks before she speaks, and her thoughts about the conditions of her life compel her to plan and then execute a verbal resistance to her father's wish that she not attend the Jubilee.

This pattern, in which internal perspective and dialogue are used in conjunction with each other to show how expression of agency occurs, is typical in Jubilee, but it does not guarantee that assertions of woman' s agency are always successful. While Nancy strongly resists her father's attempt to keep her at home and while she convinces him to let her go to the Jubilee, she also is willing to compromise with her father, since she ultimately agrees to let Barmby accompany her to the celebration. Nancy's willingness to compromise suggests that she is one who goes for long-term results over short-term effects. She temporarily concedes power to her father, recognizing that all change does not happen through the spoken word alone, and waits for a later moment, at the Jubilee, to assert agency in a stronger, more action-oriented way. When Nancy arrives at the Jubilee celebration, she quickly loses Barmby and walks alone through the crowds, in what is depicted as a moment of complete freedom for Nancy. As Nancy and Barmby walk along the street,
   Nancy looked eagerly about her, impatient for the dark, wishing the
   throng would sweep her away. In Pall Mall, Barmby felt it incumbent
   upon him to name the several clubs [...] As he stood staring in
   doubt at one of the coldly insolent facades, [...] Nancy saw that
   her moment had come. She darted off [...] She had escaped to enjoy
   herself, and the sense of freedom soon overcame anxieties" (67-68).

This moment is one in which direct physical action is valued over the power of the spoken word; to tell Barmby that she wants to walk alone would involve, at best, compromise and, at worst, submission to Barmby's judgment of the situation, which one imagines would be along the lines of what her father would say-a definitive "no." In choosing not to engage Barmby in conversational debate before deserting him, Nancy seems to recognize that her willingness to talk things out with people who hold opposing opinions often puts her in the situation of compromising; here, she decides to circumvent such compromise in order to achieve the results she wants. In other words, Nancy moves from increased consciousness to physical action, rather than from increased consciousness to spoken word, and this seems an effective strategy for resistance. This scene, then, shows the limits of resistance to cultural norms through dialogue but without direct physical action.

Still, Gissing's use of internal perspective and dialogue to show Nancy' s resistance, which often results in compromise on Nancy's part, foreshadows the kind of resistance and compromise revealed in Nancy's struggle with Lionel Tarrant over the concept of the "free union" later in the novel, where Nancy lacks the confidence to resist Lionel with the same vigor with which she resists Barmby at the Jubilee. Nancy's resistance through verbal combat with Lionel is best divided into two parts: the resistance occurring before Lionel goes to the Bahamas and "abandons" her, and that occurring after Lionel's return to England, when the couple attempts to negotiate a non-traditional marriage. The resistance Nancy exhibits before Lionel's departure is fairly muted, in part because she is failing in love with Lionel and finds his nontraditional perspectives on marriage charming. Also, despite Lionel's objections to traditional marriage, he goes along with the notion of being married with relative ease, making it unnecessary for Nancy to resist too much at this point. Still, the occasional moments of resistance by Nancy early in their relationship are important, since the early conflicts between Nancy and Lionel establish the dynamic that will characterize their relationship once they attempt to negotiate a non-traditional marriage later in the story.

When Lionel visits Nancy while she is on holiday at Teignmouth, not only do they argue over which path to take while out walking together (120-21), but also their perspectives on education, an issue directly connected to women's independence, come into conflict through a reading choice Nancy makes at the local lending library. When Nancy chooses Helmholtz's "Lectures on Scientific Subjects" instead of a "pretty" novel, like those chosen by the other women in the library, Lionel first exclaims, "Merciful heavens! You mean to read that?" and then asserts that one would spend one's time better reading poetry. In fact, Nancy has chosen the Helmholtz because she wants to show Lionel that she has the ability for "severe reading" (120), a decision indicated to readers through her internal perspective. When Lionel questions her choice, the narrator shows Nancy's tendency to resist by stating, "On an instinct of resistance, Nancy pretended that the exact sciences were her favourite study" (121). While Lionel knows Helmholtz ("I used to grind at science because everybody talked science," he says) and while he allows Nancy to read him a section of Helmholtz on their walk, he follows her reading up with the poetry of Keats. "Isn't it better?" he says, at the end of his reading (124-26). This conflict between Nancy and Lionel over reading material is significant, for it illustrates their tendency to disagree on most matters early in the relationship, as well as Lionel's tendency to discourage Nancy from activities that might make her more independent. Given that scientific and technical education was popular with New Women of the late-nineteenth century (Selig 706-07), since it provided more practical opportunities for them than the humanist education symbolized by Keats, Lionel' s preference for Keats over Helmholtz suggests a partriarchal attitude on Lionel's part.

Although Nancy submits to Lionel's opinion that Keats is better than Helmholtz, as well as many of Lionel's other opinions as he courts her, when she learns that Lionel is going to leave England for the Bahamas shortly after marrying her and learning that she is pregnant, her resistance to Lionel becomes much stronger. Nancy pleads with Lionel to stay in England, even if it means that she must come clean about her marriage to him and lose the money her father has bequeathed her on the condition that she not marry before age twenty-six (195-96). This resistance from Nancy is again set up by representation of her thoughts by the narrator. When Lionel suggests that he may have to do something Nancy will not like, the narrator comments, "For Nancy, the pause [in conversation] was charged with apprehensions; she seemed to discover in her husband's face a purpose which he knew could exact her resistance" (194). Although Lionel eventually convinces Nancy that he must leave the country in order for them to have any chance at supporting themselves, Nancy later resists this decision by adopting the attitude that as long as Lionel is gone, she will once again be "independent" of him. "If you choose to go away," she tells him, "I choose to think as little of you as possible. That's common sense, isn't it?" (206). When Lionel replies by saying, "Be as independent as you like [...] only keep your love for me," Nancy's reply points out his double standard. "Oh, indeed! It's your experience, is it, that the two things can go together? That's the difference between man and woman, I suppose. I shall love you just as little as possible and how little that will be, perhaps I had better not tell you" (206-07).

The conflict set up between Lionel and Nancy before he leaves, especially in terms of their differing views on the way relationships should work, carries over to the resistance Nancy exerts after Lionel finally returns to England, a year after he has left Nancy and long after Nancy has decided that she has been abandoned by him. The end of Nancy's patience with Lionel's unconventional views of marriage comes after one of the Peachey sisters learns of Nancy' s pregnancy and confronts her about it. In a moment of self-reflection, expressed narratively in a section in which Nancy's internal perspective dominates, Nancy concludes that she has never been Lionel's wife but only his mistress. "[S]he looked back in the stern spirit of a woman judging another's frailty [...] Tarrant never respected her, never thought of her as a woman whom he could seriously woo and wed. She had a certain power over his emotions [...] but his love would not endure the test of absence [ ... ] One night about this time she said to herself: 'I was his mistress, never his wife'" (290). Following this realization, Nancy's resistance to Lionel after he returns is not just resistance to the cultural norm that women should be subordinate to their husbands, the "angel in the house" trap, but to the idea that women are either "angels" or "whores." While one might argue that Nancy does not resist the cultural norm that supports the subordination of women because she pushes Lionel for a traditional marriage, she does resist the angel/whore dichotomy, which is equally responsible for the subordination of women.

Aware of the deeper implications of Lionel's unconventional attitudes toward marriage, Nancy adopts a new strategy for resisting Lionel's ideal when he returns to England. When Lionel insists on separate living quarters upon his return, Nancy counters his ideal with practical solutions-first, that they live together because it will be less expensive than if they live apart (408), and, second, that they purchase a larger house so that Lionel will not feel as though his freedom has been taken away if they live together (409). But in each case, Lionel rejects Nancy's ideas and characterizes them as impractical, the result of idealizing marriage and of an unhealthy attachment to social convention. Of course, it is arguable that Nancy has developed an unhealthy attachment to social convention, for she wants a traditional marriage, but it also is arguable that Nancy has not given up the ideal of individual freedom over social convention, only that the notion of individual freedom has changed for her as the result of having a child. In fact, Nancy believes that the same sort of personal freedom Lionel wants is impossible for a woman with a child. In a conversation that takes place shortly before her argument with Lionel, Nancy says to Mary Woodruff, their long-time housekeeper and now Mr. Lord' s companion, "It comes to this. Nature doesn't intend a married woman to be anything but a married woman [...] [S]he must either be the slave of husband and children, or defy her duty. She can have no time to herself, no thoughts for herself [...] I should like to revolt against it, yet I feel revolt to be silly. One might as well revolt against being born a woman instead of a man" (404).

Given this new awareness of the conditions of her life, what Harsh refers to as Nancy's awareness of "women's biological destiny," Nancy finds that it is simply not worth the effort always to defy Lionel. Their argument about the possibility of living together ends with Nancy good-naturedly acquiescing to Lionel's better judgment. Still, despite Nancy's tendency to resist and then acquiesce, the novel ends in the midst of yet another argument between Nancy and Lionel on the subject of living together, an ending that is significant precisely for its narrative neutrality. Having received half of her brother Horace's money after he dies of consumption, Nancy once again suggests that she and Lionel purchase a house together. Although Lionel refuses to move in, he does agree to make the appearance of living with Nancy. When she asks, "Will it be known to everybody that we don't live together?" Lionel replies, "Well, by way of example, I should rather like it to be known; but as I know you wouldn't like it, let the appearances be as ordinary as you please" (442). Though Nancy wishes that she could push Lionel further-"She had a struggle with herself," the narration reads, revealing to readers that Nancy is tempted to ask for more from her husband-she knows that she already has reached a new point of compromise with Lionel, one that brings him closer to her ideal for their life together.

Although Nancy does fall short of consistently asserting her agency with tangible results, at the end of the novel it is clear that she continues to try to achieve the life she wants rather than always adhering to Lionel's standards. There is the sense that the conflict between them over living together will continue, with small sacrifices on the part of both well into the future. While observers such as Selig, Sloan, and Harman are correct to see Nancy's perspective usurped by Lionel's at particular points in the story, and while Harsh is correct to point out those places where the narrator seems to accept Nancy's perspective over Lionel's, it is perhaps most significant that the ending of the novel seems relatively even-handed, weighted toward neither Nancy's nor Lionel's perspective. The internal perspective of neither character is present, with Gissing using only dialogue and the briefest description of characters' actions in the scene. In the dialogue that concludes the novel, both Nancy and Lionel seem free to express their differing opinions ("I think we ought to take a house [ ... ] You won't live with me?" says Nancy, to whom Lionel replies, "You know my view of that matter" [442]), and the narrator does not assert authority in favor of either perspective. While Nancy and Lionel argue, both appear to believe that they have matured as individuals and as a couple, and neither evidently is ready to give up their method of quarrel and compromise.

Still, the presence of Nancy' s sustained internal perspective early in the novel remains on the minds of many readers, especially liberal-feminist readers, as they encounter the ending, since even use of internal perspective at the beginning of the story will shape significantly the way in which readers react to the remainder of the story. Without the establishment of Nancy's sustained internal perspective early in the novel, the conflict of the marriage would not come across as clearly as it does. In fact, without the emphasis on Nancy' s internal perspective early on, there would be no premise for the main plot of the novel-two people struggling to find a form of marriage that works for both. The ending of Jubilee, then, has the residual presence of Nancy's perspective, but the immediate scene cannot be said to emphasize Nancy's perspective over Lionel's.

The middle ground taken by Gissing in his representation of woman's agency in Jubilee is heightened when one considers the novel in comparison to The Odd Women and The Nether World. Gissing's use of internal perspective in Jubilee follows a pattern similar to that of The Odd Women; that is, Gissing reveals the internal perspective of the female protagonist, Rhoda Nunn, to a much greater degree than he does in his earlier, more naturalist narratives such as The Nether World, and he uses this perspective to show the combative conditions of male/female relationships. However, in The Odd Women, Gissing more often and more consistently combines the internal perspective of his female protagonist with dialogue and description of characters' actions, resulting in a more fully developed representation of woman' s agency, according to the 1890s liberal-feminist ideal.

Although Gissing's use of Rhoda's internal perspective does not appear in any significant way until Chapter 14 of the novel, once it is used, it is closely connected with resistant speech and action from Rhoda. In Chapter 14, titled "Motives Meeting," Rhoda finally decides that she will let Everard pursue her, but only because she has a "plan" to make him propose a traditional marriage rather than the "free union" he wants, to reject his offer, and to make her own belief in living the life of the odd woman stronger. At the beginning of the first sustained section of narration through Rhoda's internal perspective, she reflects: "No man had ever made love to her; no man, to her knowledge, had ever been tempted to do so. In certain moods she derived satisfaction from this thought, using it to strengthen her life's purpose" (166). After a long monologue on her "complex" feelings for Everard, in which she recognizes that she at least "regard[s] him with sexual curiosity," Rhoda thinks that she can convince Everard to ask her to marry him, in the traditional manner rather than in the "free union" style he advocates.
   [I]f he loved her, these theories would sooner or later be swept
   aside; he would plead with her to become his legal wife. To that
   point she desired to bring him. Offer what he might, she would not
   accept it [...] To reject a lover in so many respects desirable,
   whom so many women might envy her, would fortify her self-esteem,
   and enable her to go forward in the chosen path with firmer tread."

This sustained section of internal perspective makes clear the plan Rhoda has in mind, and, from this moment, Gissing effectively couples internal perspective with direct speech and action as Rhoda resists cultural norms that support the subordination of women in her relationship with Everard. For example, when Everard confesses his love to Rhoda in Chapter 17, titled "The Triumph," she firmly rejects him, politely saying, "It is usual, I think--if one may trust the novels--for a woman to return thanks when an offer of this kind has been made to her. So--thank you very much, Mr. Barfoot" (207). When Barfoot refuses to accept her polite refusal, begging her to speak to him in "plain, honest words" (207) and claiming that it is her "womanly resistance" that appeals to him, she declares that she "never shall [marry]," for "[i]t would interfere hopelessly with the best part of my life," her life at Mrs. Baffoot's school (209). These moments of resistance through direct speech, as well as her action of standing up so that Everard will leave (210), is coupled with Rhoda's internal perspective, which explains to readers her thinking on the scene after Everard has left. "She had gained her wish, had enjoyed her triumph. A raising of the finger and Everard Barfoot would marry her. Assured of that, she felt a new contentment in life" (213).

This effective combination of narrative strategies appears at other times in the novel, as in Chapter 21, "Towards the Decisive," in which Rhoda's internal perspective reveals that she suspects Monica Madden of having an affair with Everard and is prompted to take action by going to confront Monica (249). (In fact, it is another man, named Bevis, who has been pursuing Monica.) It also appears in Chapter 25, "The Fate of the Ideal," in which Rhoda' s internal perspective reveals her decision to spend time with Everard, despite her continued suspicion that he is having an affair with Monica, in order to get him to propose to her (291). These instances of dialogue and/or description of characters' actions coupled with internal perspective serve to iterate the first sustained instance of Rhoda's internal perspective, in which her plan to control Everard becomes central to her thoughts.

Gissing's use of sustained internal perspective in The Odd Women, then, is similar to that used early in Jubilee, but, as Jubilee progresses, the correlation between internal perspective and dialogue or description of characters' actions falls off, with Nancy more often acquiescing to Lionel's ideals than resisting them. While it is not uncommon for readers to compare Nancy Lord to Rhoda Nunn, since both women are involved with men who advocate the free union instead of traditional marriage, it is perhaps better to compare Nancy to the other main female character in The Odd Women, Monica Madden. Both Nancy and Monica are in similar economic situations, dependent on their fathers or husbands for support unless they choose to take jobs normally occupied by young single women; Rhoda, on the other hand, is represented as a woman in a slightly more stable position, since her position at Mrs. Barfoot's school seems unlikely to change, so long as the two women can negotiate their different approaches to feminism. Further, Nancy and Monica actually marry men with ideals different from their own, while Rhoda's resistance to cultural norms takes place within a more casual courting relationship rather than within legal marriage. In fact, Gissing's use of internal perspective is more similar between Nancy and Monica than it is between Nancy and Rhoda. Gissing uses internal perspective to depict both women's frustration with their husbands, yet both women also become less assertive as their respective stories progress, with the correlation between internal perspective and dialogue or description of characters' actions dropping off as their ascquiescence increases.

Examining Gissing's use of specific narrative strategies suggests, then, that his representation of woman's agency through Rhoda, if not Monica, in The Odd Women is stronger than his representation of it through Nancy in Jubilee, but, when one turns to The Nether World, the moderate degree of agency given to Nancy in Jubilee becomes even more apparent. More clearly influenced by Zolaesque naturalism, and with a story more strongly controlled by a narrator with close ties to the central male character of the novel, Sidney Kirkwood, The Nether World indicates clearly the limits of Gissing's use of internal perspective to represent woman's agency. In The Nether World, Gissing's use of internal perspective to develop the character of Sidney Kirkwood is common, while he rarely uses this narrative strategy to develop the character of the female protagonist, Jane Snowden. In contrast to Jubilee, where Nancy's internal perspective appears in the third chapter, the first few chapters of The Nether World are controlled by the naturalist narrator and the internal perspectives of the yet-to-be-identified Michael Snowden, grandfather of Jane, and the strongly masculinized Clementina Peckover. When Jane's internal perspective is present in these early chapters, it functions either in submission to the narrator's naturalist comments or as an indicator of her inability to assert agency.

This suppression of Jane's internal perspective in favor of the narrator's naturalist commentary or the perspectives of other characters continues throughout most of the novel. It is not until late in the novel, after Jane's grandfather has taken her out of the Peckovers' home and she is living a less poverty--stricken life, that there is any sustained use of her internal perspective. In Chapter 25, readers finally get inside Jane' s head as she considers the changes to her life upon learning that her grandfather has more money than anyone imagined and that he wants Jane to use that money productively by doing philanthropic work for him. Additionally, Jane has learned from her grandfather that Sidney Kirkwood, someone Jane has considered her good friend for many years, is interested in marrying her someday. The narration begins through the narrator's vision, but then shifts to Jane's. "For Jane, as we know, the marvels had already begun. She came back from Danbury not altogether like herself [...] The immediate effect of the disclosure made to her by Michael [...] was to overwhelm her with a sense of responsibilities, to throw her mind into painful tumult. Slow of thought [...] she could not at once bring into the control of her reflection this wondrous future to which her eyes had been opened" (222).

While readers see Jane's perspective here, shortly after this section, the narrator reasserts his authority. "Try to read her mind," he states, using direct address to build his own authority. "The world had all at once grown very large, a distress to her imagination; worse still, she had herself become a person of magnified importance [...] She had been an ill-used, ragged, work-worn child, and something of that degradation seemed, in her feeling, still to cling to her" (224). Finally, at the end of this chapter, the narrator reminds us that he understands Jane's feelings better than she does herself, a move that undermines any effect of the earlier use of Jane's internal perspective. "[T]hough Jane did not acknowledge to herself that she regretted the old state of things," the narrator tells us, "still less that she feared the future, it was undeniable that the past seemed very bright in her memory, and that something weighed upon her heart, forbidding such gladsomeness as she had known" (230). Any internal perspective by Jane, then, is tempered by commentary by the narrator, and at the end of the story, though the narrator seems to respect Jane for her struggle to overcome the conditions of her life, she remains someone who has not been able to assert agency often and who, when she has, has not been successful. For the most part, Jane plays the role of a young woman controlled by the men who surround her and by the class hierarchy that limits her choices.

It is arguable that Jane is less assertive, however, partly because she is hardly more than a child, age thirteen, when the novel begins and still a teenager when the story ends. Yet, when one looks at the other important female character in the novel, Clara Hewett, one sees a similar trend in terms of the amount of narrative space given to her internal perspective. The first sustained instance of Clara's internal perspective comes in Chapters 9 and 10, appropriately titled "Pathological" and "The Last Combat," in which Clara's life as a barmaid is described. Although the chapter begins with a paragraph that emphasizes Clara's perspective, the narrator quickly takes control of the narrative, infusing the description of Clara's work with strong naturalist language and the use of direct address. The second paragraph of the chapter begins: "Yes; but you must try to understand this girl of the people, with her unfortunate endowment of brains and defect of tenderness" (79). This use of direct address and naturalist language continues for a good ten paragraphs, with only short snatches of Clara's internal perspective. Although Clara ultimately rebels against her working conditions and quits her job, the reader's sense of why she quits is shaped primarily by the narrator's perspective. Futhermore, Clara's resistance in these two chapters can be tied directly to her conflicts with her father, who, earlier in the story, tries to convince Clara to stay at home instead of going to work in the bar. Ultimately, Clara's rebellion is punished in a particularly naturalist manner; in a fit of jealousy over losing an acting part to Clara, Clara's friend Grace throws acid in Clara's face, disfiguring her and leaving a physical mark to signify the consequences of Clara's attempt to escape the nether world. Though Clara's internal perspective re-emerges in the narrative after this incident occurs, like some of the rare instances of Jane's perspective, Clara's operates primarily as a way to show her inability to assert agency. Clara wears a veil over her face and refuses to be seen in the light, and, even after Sidney asks her to marry him, she remains distant from him and others.

In comparison to The Nether World, then, Jubilee emerges as a novel in which the female protagonist does possess a certain degree of agency, if not as much as liberal-feminist critics of the 1890s would have liked. Still, we cannot rest our judgment about Nancy's agency on the role of internal perspective and other narrative strategies alone, since to do so is to unnecessarily separate form from content. As Constance Harsh points out, there is the thematic association of Nancy with modernity, as well as the theme of "women's biological destiny," that also contribute to the way we view Nancy's character and her independence. While Harsh reads Nancy's embrace of motherhood and the domestic sphere as evidence of the failure of the masculinist order to control the narrative (872), I believe that Nancy's embrace of such a life illustrates the limits of her agency. As liberal-feminist ideals of the time show, to express agency within the domestic sphere could not have the same effectiveness as assertion of agency within the public sphere. For these feminists, it is Nancy's decision to write a novel that offers her the best opportunity to resist the masculinist ideals held by Lionel. But, as my analysis shows, Nancy's move toward speaking and acting in the public sphere through her novel is easily trumped by Lionel, providing more evidence that Nancy fails to assert agency on a consistent basis.

For Gissing to make Nancy a novelist, especially in the midst of trying times, is a move suggesting Nancy's potential for exercising her agency in a concrete, lasting way. Were she to become the successful woman writer she imagines she might be after reading a novel from the lending library--in which the heroine "discovered with notable suddenness the path to fame, lucre, and the husband of her heart: she became at a bound a successful novelist" (298)--Nancy would be on her way to solid independence, independence that might allow her to support herself and her child without Lionel's involvement. Although Nancy presents her decision to write the novel as one aimed at helping Lionel rather than herself and her child, it is clear that Nancy understands the financial opportunities possible through authorship and that Lionel is threatened by such possibilities. Not only does Lionel return to Nancy's after only four days (instead of the usual ten they take between visits) to discuss her novel, his rationale for not publishing the novel is not that it is poorly written but that it is a "private," "domestic" story, not meant for public consumption (427-28). This suggests that Lionel is worried both about the world knowing his wife's story and about the good chance that Nancy will be able to get the story published and become successful.

Nancy resists Lionel's suppression of the novel, arguing that the qualities that make Lionel insist that the book be kept from the public are precisely those qualities Lionel admires in published books. After her husband says that the novel "isn't literature, but a little bit of Nancy's mind and heart," Nancy states: "Lionel, if it is a bit of my mind and heart, it must be a good book. You have often praised books to me just on that account--because they were genuine" (428). In addition, when Lionel suggests to Nancy that she should be focusing on their child instead of writing books, since bearing children is the more proper method of creation for women, Nancy again resists, with her reaction revealing her awareness of the power of authorship for women. Of bearing children, Nancy says, "Oh, every woman can do that." Then, when Lionel claims that Nancy should spend her leisure time eating and reading rather than writing, Nancy says indignantly, "I wanted to do something [...] I have read enough" (429). Nevertheless, Lionel gets the last word again and succeeds in convincing Nancy to "seal up" her novel and save it for her elderly years, when the two of them will look over it again and "drop a tear from our old dim eyes" (430).

Significantly, this is one scene in which there is very little of Nancy's internal perspective, suggesting its strong connection with assertions of woman's agency. Moreover, that Gissing chooses to have one of his male characters suppress the creative work and voice of the same central female character to whom he has given more sustained internal perspective elsewhere creates an interesting interpretative dilemma. While there is nothing in Jubilee to indicate Nancy's literary technique in her novel (whether it is in third- or first-person, for example) one might imagine that it is first-person, in the tradition of Jane Eyre, or in third-person but with more significant attention to the internal perspective of the heroine rather than just the hero. This assumption seems reasonable, given Lionel's characterization of Nancy's novel as "a little bit of Nancy's mind and heart" (428). Assuming that Nancy's novel is more sensitive to the heroine's perspective than Gissing's text is, one might ask: why does Gissing suppress Nancy's voice through the actions of Lionel at the same time he gives her voice through attention to her internal perspective? In part, it illustrates the difference between Lionel's perspective on marriage (he wants a "free union" that is "free" only for him) and Gissing's own perspective (which is less clearly identifiable but seems at least more complex than Lionel's). In this light, the suppression of Nancy's novel by a male character versus the encouragement of Nancy's internal perspective by the author himself represent two levels on which the literary text works: as a story and as a constructed text.

As readers, we are in the position to see both levels at which the text is working: the suppression of Nancy's novel is a "story" concern, whereas the use of Nancy's internal perspective is a "discourse" concern, to use Seymour Chatman's terms for distinguishing what happens in a narrative (story) from how it is told (discourse). Those who want to see Gissing as identifying strongly with his male character might argue that Gissing does in the text what he wishes to do in his own life: that is, suppress the voices of women in favor of those of men. But those who recognize the ambiguity of Gissing's gender politics will take a different view. Although Gissing could not bring himself to create a male character who might encourage his wife to publish her novel, a story line that would have appealed to liberal feminists of the period, he does create competing ideas about the agency of women at the story and discourse levels of the text. A narratological reading of Lionel's suppression of Nancy's novel might point out that the "discourse" element of the text (Nancy's internal perspective) should at least be recognized as equally important to that of the "story" element (the suppression of Nancy's novel), but this reading might also point out that "story" elements often have a larger impact on flesh-and-blood readers than "discourse" elements do. In other words, the power of the "story" element, Lionel suppressing Nancy's novel, may carry more weight in the minds of readers than the "discourse" pattern of internal perspective created by Gissing over the course of the novel. The suppression of Nancy's novel serves as an excellent illustration of the story/ discourse distinction, since it is a one-time event that easily becomes symbolic of the more general pattern of resistance and subordination seen in Nancy throughout the novel. Understanding Gissing's use of Nancy's internal perspective, then, supplements the more striking symbolic moments in the text, such as the suppression of Nancy's novel by Lionel.

In sum, Gissing's representation of woman's agency through Nancy in Jubilee is ambiguous, especially when seen in context of representations of woman's agency in his other works. In contrast to earlier work, such as The Nether World, Gissing appears to be closer to a liberal-feminist ideal with Jubilee. Yet, in comparison to The Odd Women, the novel by Gissing most thoroughly acknowledged by liberal feminists of the period, Jubilee had to have been something of a disappointment to them. By applying late-nineteenth-century liberal-feminist criteria to Gissing's representation of woman's agency in Jubilee, we can see with more clarity how our own assessments of this novel are influenced by current notions of agency and what constitutes feminist thought and practice. Through this lens, one that continues in equality-based feminism of today, we see that while Nancy Lord possesses more agency than most critics have acknowledged, she still possesses less agency than the ideal female character. Ultimately, Jubilee fails to fulfill both 1890s and current liberal-feminist criteria for fully feminist novels.


This essay was supported by a summer research fellowship from the Department of English, Ohio State University. My thanks to Drs. Marlene Longenecker, James Phelan, David Riede, and Clare Simmons for their helpful feedback on work related to this essay. Also, to Studies in the Novel's anonymous readers, whose serious consideration of my work and detailed comments about revision were much appreciated. Finally, to Paulo Campos, for his continuing encouragement.

(1) Critics who read the novel primarily as a satire of middle-class life include Robert L. Selig, "A Sad Heart at the Late-Victorian Culture Market: George Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee" (1969); Cora Robey, "In the Year of the Jubilee: A Satire on Late Victorian Culture" (1972); Alison Cotes, "Gissing and Camberwell" (1985); and John Sloan, "The 'Worthy' Seducer: A Motif Under Stress in George Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee" (1985), rpt. in Sloan's George Gissing: The Cultural Challenge (1989). Only Selig and Sloan discuss in any detail the issue of Nancy's agency.

Selig argues that it is Gissing's view of popular culture that prevents Nancy Lord from being the sustained focal point of the novel. Gissing's preference for high culture over low, Selig asserts, leads him to condemn Nancy for her obsession with low culture and to praise Lionel Tarrant, Nancy's husband, for his commitment to high culture. This turn, Selig believes, works against all the sympathies of Gissing's readers, who expect Nancy to remain the central, and most sympathetic, character in the novel. "Gissing spoils it," writes Selig, "by shifting the point of view from Nancy's perceptiveness to Tarrant's moral obtuseness. In the last sentence of Part 5, Chapter 5, we are told that Tarrant '[...] went home to a night of misery' [...] Yet our interest is not in him, the lesser character, but in Nancy. What did she go home to? It is in Nancy that the human values of Jubilee reside" (719).

Sloan focuses on the role the fallen woman tradition plays in the novel, an emphasis that, as Amanda Anderson's Tainted Souls and Painted Faces: The Rhetoric of Fallenness in Victorian Culture (1993) has shown, can be an important site for discussion of woman's agency. Sloan argues that while the setting of the novel in middle-class Camberwell suggests that Nancy might experience freedom not afforded members of the working class, Nancy is portrayed as a "wanton" woman who should be judged for her displays of independence (357). Further, when Nancy displays her independence in her relationship with Lionel Tarrant, her assertions of agency are ineffectual because she gets little support for these acts of independence from the narrator (361).

Barbara Leah Harman, "Going Public: Female Emancipation in George Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee" (1992), moves away from the general trend of looking primarily at Gissing's use of satire and focuses instead on issues of agency, but Harman is, for the most part, in line with those who see Nancy's agency as severely limited. In Jubilee, Harman argues, Gissing proposes an alternative to conventional marriage that keeps intact individual freedom without forcing individuals into a position of isolation. By proposing such an alternative, Gissing suggests that Nancy has some degree of agency, since her acquiescence to Tarrant's "free union" idea might be read as an act of self-control rather than submission (365). However, Harman believes that the actual conditions of Nancy's life in this alternative marriage do not match up with the theoretical ideal, making Nancy much less liberated than Rhoda Nunn of The Odd Women, who is able to achieve a psychological freedom through her understanding of the theoretical concept of the free union (370).

(2) Cunningham, who examines the work of Gissing, Thomas Hardy, and George Meredith, argues that these authors, writing in a decade in which the New Woman became a "focal point" for a number of controversial issues discussed in the 1890s (1), were strongly influenced by the less-canonical and primarily female New Woman novelists, such as Sarah Grand and Mona Caird, to the degree that only a study of these "minor novelists" can show "how far major novelists were responding to the radical feminist thinking of the time" (19). And Kranidis, who examines Gissing, Hardy, Meredith, and George Moore in a chapter titled "Defining the Political: The 'Realistic' Appropriation," argues that all four authors appropriated the New Woman novel to serve their own non-feminist, realist, and sometimes aestheticist agendas. While these authors were "remarkable" for producing novels with the New Woman type, given that they did not explicitly support feminist ideals and claimed an aesthetic that privileged "non-partisan" observation (107), Kranidis finds their appropriation of the New Woman type to do more harm than help to the feminist movement of the late-nineteenth century, since it sabotaged the "realistic imperatives" of feminist literature (109).

(3) Kate Flint, in The Woman Reader, 1837-1914, identifies Shafts, the magazine founded by Margaret Sibthrop in 1892 to encourage "free thought" among women and the working classes, as the first Victorian periodical to fully articulate a liberal-feminist literary aesthetic, in which literary representation and the interests of real-life women have a reciprocal relationship (151-52). Shafts, along with The Woman's Herald (founded by Henrietta Muller in 1888 as the Women's Penny Paper and later called The Woman's Signal), constitute a rich source of this aesthetic, in that both magazines articulate similar ideals, especially about the use of particular narrative strategies to represent woman's agency. I identify magazines such as Shafts and The Woman's Herald as liberal feminist, rather than more generally feminist or even "feminine," because underlying their analyses of women's issues, and more specifically their analyses of literary representations of women, is the equality doctrine, the belief that the best route to emancipation for women is the procurement of equal political and legal rights. This form of feminism is perhaps best understood in contrast to other, difference--based views of women's rights, which were more likely to be found in women's magazines of the day.

(4) Such recent studies include Michiel Heyns's Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: The Scapegoat in English Realist Fiction (1994), Katherine Kearns's Nineteenth-Century Literary Realism (1996), Alison Byerly's Realism, Representation, and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Literature (1997), Tom Lloyd's Crises of Realism: Representing Experience in the British Novel, 1816-1910 (1997), and Harry Shaw's Narrating Reality: Austen, Scott, Eliot (1999). To classify these studies as projects that rely on the more traditional definition of realism, however, is not to say that they do not make interesting, or reformative, claims about realism. In several of these studies, the realist novelist's interest in rendering the external world is seen as part of a larger contradiction in realism: its equal claim to rendering a "moral" world (Heyns), its tendency toward "artistic allusion," which works against its realist goal (Byerly), and its inclination to suppress experience even as it tries to "domesticate the monstrous" (Lloyd).

(5) See for example, Gertrude Kapteyn's reviews of George Moore's Esther Waters and Meredith's Diana of the Crossways.

(6) In the few months surrounding the magazine's review of The Odd Women, Grand's novel was featured multiple times. In the April 13, 1893 issue, The Woman's Herald includes a note titled "'Madame Sarah Grand," about an interview with Grand conducted by the British Weekly. Also in this issue is the first installment of a four-part review of The Heavenly Twins, titled "Marriage and the Modern Woman" for the first two installments and "The Story of Evadne" for the third and fourth installments. The July 6, 1893 issue includes another, shorter review of Heavenly Twins in an article titled "Two Women Who Write," and in the August 17, 1893 issue, the magazine published its own interview with Grand, titled "Sarah Grand: A Study," as the front page story.


Anderson, Amanda. Tainted Souls and Painted Faces: The Rhetoric of Fallenness in Victorian Culture. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1993.

Anonymous. "Madame Sarah Grand." The Woman's Herald (13 Apr. 1893): 114.

--. "Marriage and the Modern Woman; or, the Story of the Heavenly Twins." The Woman's Herald (13 Apr. 1893): 123-24.

--. "Marriage and the Modern Woman; Tom Jones as Husband." The Woman's Herald (20 Apr. 1893): 140-41.

--. "Sarah Grand: A Study." The Woman's Herald (17 Aug. 1893): 401.

--. "The Story of Evadne." The Woman's Herald (27 Apr. 1893): 155.

--. "The Story of Evadne." The Woman's Herald (11 May 1893): 186.

--. "A Study in Average Women." The Woman's Herald (22 June 1893): 281-82.

--. "Two Women Who Write." The Woman's Herald (6 July 1893): 309-10.

Black, Clementina. "Literature." [Review of Gissing's The Odd Women.] Illustrated London News (5 Aug. 1893): 155. Rpt. in Gissing: The Critical Heritage. Eds. Pierre Coustillas and Colin Partridge. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1972. 222-24.

Byerly, Alison. Realism, Representation, and the Arts in Nineteenth-Century Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1997.

Chatman, Seymour. Story and Discourse: Narrative Structure in Fiction and Film. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1978.

Cotes, Alison. "Gissing and Camberwell." The Gissing Newsletter 21.2 (1985): 11-16.

Cunningham, Gail. The New Woman and the Victorian Novel. London: Macmillan, 1978.

"Dole." "Mr. George Meredith on Women's Status." Shafts (3 Nov. 1892): 8.

Flint, Kate. The Woman Reader 1837-1914. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1993.

Gissing, George. The Collected Letters of George Gissing. Vols. 1-9. Eds. Paul F. Mattheisen, Arthur C. Young, and Pierre Coustillas. Athens: Ohio UP, 1990-97.

--. In the Year of the Jubilee. 1894. Intro. John Halperin. London: Hogarth P, 1987.

--. The Nether World. 1889. Ed. Stephen Gill. Oxford World's Classics Ser. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1992.

--. The Odd Women. 1893. Intro. Elaine Showalter. New York: Penguin, 1983. Grand, Sarah. The Heavenly Twins. 1893. Intro. Carol A. Senf. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1992.

Hardy, Thomas. The Collected Letters of Thomas Hardy. Eds. Richard Little Purdy and Michael Millgate. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1978-84.

Harman, Barbara Leah. "Going Public: Female Emancipation in George Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee." Texas Studies in Literature and Language 34 (1992): 347-74.

Harsh, Constance. "'Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee and the Epistemology of Resistance." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 34 (1994): 853-75.

Heyns, Michiel. Expulsion and the Nineteenth-Century Novel: The Scapegoat in English Realist Fiction. Oxford: Clarendon P, 1994.

Kapteyn, Gertrude. "'Esther Waters' and What It Suggests." Shafts 3.2 (May 1895): 24-26.

--. "Reviews: Diana of the Crossways, by George Meredith." Shafts 3.8 (Nov. 1895): 109-11.

--. "Reviews: Diana of the Crossways, by George Meredith." Shafts 3.9 (Dec. 1895): 125-26.

Kearns, Katherine. Nineteenth-Century Literary Realism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996.

Kranidis, Rita. Subversive Discourse: The Cultural Production of Late Victorian Feminist Novels. New York: St. Martin's P, 1995.

Krout, M. H. "Woman in Fiction." The Woman's Herald (21 Sept. 1893): 485.

Lloyd, Tom. Crises of Realism: Representing Experience in the British Novel, 1816-1910. Lewisburg: Bucknell UP, 1997.

Robey, Cora. "In the Year of the Jubilee: A Satire on Late Victorian Culture." Tennessee Studies in Literature 17 (1972): 121-27.

Selig, Robert L. "A Sad Heart at the Late-Victorian Culture Market: George Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900 9 (1969): 703-20.

Shaw, Harry E. Narrating Reality: Austen, Scott, Eliot. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1999.

Sloan, John. "The 'Worthy' Seducer:. A Motif Under Stress in George Gissing's In the Year of the Jubilee." English Literature in Transition 28 (1985): 354-65. Rpt. in George Gissing: The Cultural Challenge, John Sloan. New York: St. Martin's P, 1989. 129-40.

COPYRIGHT 2004 Johns Hopkins University Press
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2004 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Youngkin, Molly
Publication:Studies in the Novel
Article Type:Critical Essay
Date:Mar 22, 2004
Previous Article:The genealogy of the literary Bildungsroman: Edward Bulwerlytton and W. M. Thackeray.
Next Article:Iris Murdoch and the case of "too many men".

Terms of use | Privacy policy | Copyright © 2020 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters