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The Nether World (1889), generally regarded as the finest of Gissing's early novels, is a highly dramatic, sometimes violent tale of man's caustic vision shaped by the bitter personal experience of poverty. This tale of intrigue depicts life among the artisans, factory-girls, and slum-dwellers, documenting an inescapable world devoid of sentimentality and steeped with people scheming and struggling to survive. With Zolaesque intensity and relentlessness, Gissing lays bare the economic forces which determine the aspirations and expectations of those born to a life of labor.
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