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The Emancipated

by George Gissing

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George Gissing was an English novelist, who wrote twenty-three novels between 1880 and 1903. Although his early works are naturalistic, he developed into one of the the most accomplished realists of the late-Victorian era. Born in Wakefield, Yorkshire, to lower-middle class parents, Gissing went on to win a scholarship to Owens College, the present day University of Manchester. A brilliant student, he excelled at university, winning many coveted prizes, including the Shakespeare prize in 1875. Between 1891 and 1897 (his so-called middle period) he produced his best works, which include New Grub Street, Born in Exile, The Odd Women, In the Year of Jubilee, and The Whirlpool. The middle years of the decade saw his reputation reach new heights: by some critics he is counted alongside George Meredith and Thomas Hardy as one of the best three novelists of his day. He also enjoyed new friendships with fellow writers such as Henry James, and H.G. Wells, and came into contact with many other up and coming writers such as Joseph Conrad and Stephen Crane.

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A divine evening, softly warm, dim-glimmering. The dusty road ran on between white trunks of plane-trees; when the station and the houses near it were left behind, no other building came in view. To the left of the road, hidden behind its long earth-rampart, lay the dead city; far beyond rose the dark shape of Vesuvius, crested with beacon-glow, a small red fire, now angry, now murky, now for a time extinguished. The long rumble of the train died away, and there followed silence absolute, scarcely broken for a few minutes by a peasant singing in the distance, the wailing song so often heard in the south of Italy.



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