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Posted March 25, 2000
The most difficult thing regarding this book's many themes is the constant reminder of how terrible the poor have always had it. When we consider how lucky we are to have parents with jobs and even a mediocre family health plan, it is easy to see how today's generations have it made. Gissing is able to explain the hardships of the lower-class Londoner of the late 19th Century. The problems only seem to get worse with every page. If it is not one thing it is another and he shows how human nature forces the philosophy of 'survival of the fittest' onto the bottom rungs of society. Ironically, it is the people from these positions that ultimately steal from their peers in order to continue their miserable existences --prolonging the inevitable fall into the depths of further poverty and inescapable misery. If you are looking for a fairy tale, look elsewhere.
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