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By Martinson, Harry

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Arthur Golding has just returned from rescuing his alcoholic wife from a pub brawl. While she lies in a drunken stupor (an ironic parody of the 'normality' of sleep), he stands brooding beside her. Big Ben strikes midnight. In a garret on the opposite side of the street a dull light was burning, and it was now the only light visible in the houses around. to find employment for his thoughts in speculating as to the cause of the light. Most likely some one was lying in the garret ill, perhaps dying; or perhaps it was only a husband or a wife sitting in all but hopeless expectation for the loved one to return, even though it were in a condition which it was agony to picture.

It is an appeal, familiar to childhood, of secure, quasi-magical fortifications from which Others are excluded. In a limited sense, Kipling is Dickens's successor; but this creation of images of belonging and rejection has become totally divorced from any larger, objective vision. The satisfaction of naming has become a dangerously unearned ·gratification, isolated from the educative process in a Dickens novel. There, it is only by first learning the discrepancy between names and things that a true concordance can eventually be reached.

The city has been drained of its epistemological excitement; the blank streets, the gritty light, the coarse sounds, seem to 42 Gissing in Context provoke sullen resignation rather than vigilant expectancy; we have been tramping around all day with an increasing conviction that today, like yesterday and tomorrow, will bring neither food, lodging, nor human companionship. And yet, beneath the insistent gloom, there is a voice and an attitude that does make connection, however remote, with Dickens.

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