View Full Version : Strong drink

12-12-2014, 04:46 PM
Gissing is really anti-drink in this book. There was one chapter in which much of the neighbourhood spend the August Bank Holiday going down to Crystal Palace to get steaming. It was not very edifying. It all ends in abuse being exchanged and fights breaking out between rival groups. In fact, pretty much like Reading town centre on a Friday night. Gissing wrote of one character, that her one redeeming quality was that she did not drink, while another young woman hardly had a chance because her mother was constantly drunk. A young woman's estrangement from her family starts when she becomes a barmaid. I wondered if Gissing was being a bit puritanical, because in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Robert Owen says that few of the working men drank to such excess that their family suffered, and those who did were disapproved of by their workmates. However, Gissing started writing this book about a month after his first wife died, who had been a hopeless alcoholic. I suppose that affected his outlook.