Download The Rise of the Office Clerk in Literary Culture, 1880-1939 by Jonathan Wild PDF

By Jonathan Wild

This cutting edge examine investigates the emergence and influence of the decrease heart category on British print tradition throughout the determine of the place of work clerk. utilizing a number of resource materials--including novels, magazines, newspapers, letters, and lifestyles writing--the writer lines the literary profile of the white collar employee in the course of a time of extraordinary swap in school and tradition. This interdisciplinary paintings explores key texts by means of George Gissing, Trollope, Thackeray, Dickens and Forster.

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Gissing’s own shift from socially committed accounts of the lives of ‘hopeless clerks’ in the 1880s, to detached and often cynical portrayals of City workers in the 1890s, is particularly revealing. These apparently incompatible perspectives reflect the ease with which the absolute realist writer Harold Biffen in Gissing’s New Grub Street (1891) unconsciously reverses the contrary terms he uses to describe the ‘sphere’ of his work. 8 Although Gissing fails to comment directly in the text about this deliberate reversal of terms, his implication in using them appears clear.

16 These comments have implications for Gissing’s work that can be extended beyond the immediate consideration of the clerk’s clothes. At the very least they remind us that convention, an arbitrary force, is subject to abrupt changes (Orwell goes on to remark that hatlessness later became respectable ‘for no very clear reason’), and that these changes can severely impede our understanding of even relatively recent periods of time. As they relate to the clerk, our understanding of the effect of respectability is further distorted and diluted by the tendency of fiction to treat this theme as a source of comedy rather than tragedy.

Although the firm – originally under the name Field and Tuer, and subsequently as the Leadenhall Press – published a number of books of high quality (their 1895 catalogue lists several volumes issued at between two and six guineas), their general stock consisted of more modestly priced works. They were encouraged to publish books that appealed to the ‘Board school’ market after early successes with Jerome K. Jerome’s first two books: On the Stage – and Off (1885) and The Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow (1886).

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