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The Odd Women (Oxford World's Classics) by…
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The Odd Women (Oxford World's Classics) (original 1893; edition 2002)

by George Gissing

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
9001717,090 (3.88)81
A novel of social realism, The Odd Women reflects the major sexual and cultural issues of the late nineteenth century. Unlike the "New Woman" novels of the era which challenged the idea that the unmarried woman was superfluous, Gissing satirizes that image and portrays women as "odd" andmarginal in relation to an ideal. Set in a grimy, fog-ridden London, Gissing's "odd" women range from the idealistic, financially self-sufficient Mary Barfoot to the Madden sisters who struggle to subsist in low paying jobs and little chance for joy. With narrative detachment, Gissing portrayscontemporary society's blatant ambivalence towards its own period of transition. Judged by contemporary critics to be as provocative as Zola and Ibsen, Gissing produced an "intensely modern" work as the issues it raises remain the subject of contemporary debate.… (more)
Member:anderlawlor
Title:The Odd Women (Oxford World's Classics)
Authors:George Gissing
Info:Oxford University Press, USA (2002), Paperback, 432 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:****
Tags:novels, social-realism

Work details

The Odd Women by George Gissing (1893)

  1. 00
    Alas, Poor Lady by Rachel Ferguson (CurrerBell)
  2. 00
    Miss Miles: or, A Tale of Yorkshire Life 60 Years Ago by Mary Taylor (CurrerBell)
    CurrerBell: Miss Miles, published in 1890 and centered on "Brontë country" in Yorkshire in the 1830s, was authored by Mary Taylor, who along with Ellen Nussey was one of Charlotte Brontë's two best friends from boarding-school days. It addresses the "women's issue" with particular emphasis on Taylor's belief that women had a moral obligation to be self-supporting and not to rely on men.… (more)
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» See also 81 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
Monica deserved better ( )
  runtimeregan | Jun 12, 2019 |
I learned a lot about myself hike reading this excellent book. I didn’t realize how completely conditioned I am to both expect and desire a conventional romantic “happy ending.”
Gissing’s story of several Victorian-era women who are “odd” in more than one sense is mesmerizing. The main character is Rhoda, a fiercely independent woman who eventually falls in love with a man. The working-out of their relationship forms the backbone of the book, but many other characters and plots are explored.
Although Rhoda and her friend Mary are on the upper side of middle class, Gissing includes several working-class women and their struggles; none are trivialized. He has a fascinating insight into women’s problems and ideas.
The weak spot of the book is a trite solution to a particular problem. But that solution is also realistic in its own way. All in all, this is a great exploration of the hopes, fears, and ideals of Victorian women. Be warned though, that it’s not in any sense a light read. ( )
  bohemima | Dec 19, 2018 |
This read was an unexpected masterpiece for me. Absolutely recommended to those who are interested in Women's studies and such, but even aside from that - recommended to anyone - this is not one of those feminist books you will think pretentious. I would venture to call it a humanist book, rather, and with a focus on the female problems which are still relevant today. I still maintain that this was a book ahead of its time, and to us it can show how our current lives, our world - our time came about. Personally, I feel I have become a hundred times richer as a human being by reading it.
P.S. For anyone interested, a Project Gutenberg e-book edition of the work can be obtained online without any charge. This book is now public domain. ( )
  avalinah | Sep 11, 2016 |
I found Gissing's women to be more "stock" characters, in contrast with the deeper and more rounded portrayals in Mary Taylor's Miss Miles. ( )
  CurrerBell | Sep 16, 2015 |
Isabel was soon worked into illness. Brain trouble came on, resulting in melancholia.
  samwilson.id.au | Aug 14, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (18 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
George Gissingprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fox, Marcia R.Introductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ingham, PatriciaEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Showalter, ElaineIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Walters, MargaretIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Welch, ChrisCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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'So to-morrow, Alice,' said Dr Madden, as he walked with his eldest daughter on the coast -downs by Clevedon, 'I shall take steps for insuring my life for a thousand pounds.'
Ridiculed by men, treated with scornful anxiety by other women, the old maid is a traditional figure of fun. (Introduction)
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A novel of social realism, The Odd Women reflects the major sexual and cultural issues of the late nineteenth century. Unlike the "New Woman" novels of the era which challenged the idea that the unmarried woman was superfluous, Gissing satirizes that image and portrays women as "odd" andmarginal in relation to an ideal. Set in a grimy, fog-ridden London, Gissing's "odd" women range from the idealistic, financially self-sufficient Mary Barfoot to the Madden sisters who struggle to subsist in low paying jobs and little chance for joy. With narrative detachment, Gissing portrayscontemporary society's blatant ambivalence towards its own period of transition. Judged by contemporary critics to be as provocative as Zola and Ibsen, Gissing produced an "intensely modern" work as the issues it raises remain the subject of contemporary debate.

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Book description
"Questions of marriage don't interest me much . . . my work and thoughts are for the women who do not marry - the 'odd women' I call them..."
Set in London in the 1880's, this powerful novel tells the story of five of these 'odd women'. Alice and Virginia Madden are reduced to genteel poverty by the death of their improvident father; their pretty sister Monica chooses a loveless marriage to escape their fate; Rhoda Nunn and her friend Mary Barefoot devote their lives to helping young women find emotional as well as economic independence.

Rhoda is the embodiment of all that was meant by the New Woman - brave, spirited, feminine, seeking not to reject men, but to create for both sexes new ways of living, new freedoms from the old constraints, including, if necessary, marriage.  Into her life comes Mary's engaging and forceful cousin Everard.  Mutually attracted, they are drawn into a passionate struggle for supremacy from which Rhoda emerges with a new understanding of what love between man and woman can mean, and what its implications are for a woman determined also to be true to herself.

'It was for women Gissing reserved his fullest sympathy . . . In the Odd Women, he achieved one of the very few novels in English that can be compared with those of the French naturalists who were his contemporaries' ~Walter Allen
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