Ian Hamilton

Frank Kermode’s review of the new Gissing biography (page 9) brings to mind a project which I have long thought someone ought to tackle: a fearless update of New Grub Street. The job wouldn’t be too taxing – indeed, in many cases, it would be all too easy to attach contemporary names to Gissing’s sunken literary types: his principled dullards as well as his sleek chancers. And then there are the grim trappings of Gissing’s version of the Literary Career – the foundering periodical, the doomed synopsis, the already spent advance. All in all, the book’s whole world of seedy, profitless endeavour is worryingly up-to-date.

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[*] Cape, 280 pp., £7.95, 25 November 1982, 0 224 02066 8.