Born in Exile by George Gissing. 0.00
Born in Exile is a novel by George Gissing first published in 1892. It deals with the themes of class, religion, love and marriage. The premise of the novel is drawn from Gissing's own early life — an intellectually superior man born into a socially inferior milieu, though the story arc diverges significantly from the actuality. The main protagonist, Godwin Peak, is a star student at Whitelaw College, which he won a scholarship to attend. He wins many academic prizes and his future seems promising. Then his Cockney uncle arrives intending to open an eating-house adjacent to the college. Godwin is mortified of being associated with 'trade' and leaves the college rather than face the scorn he expects to receive from his upper-class fellow students. This is indicative of his social aspirations (upwards) and snobbery (downwards). He moves to London where he abhors the social mores of the lower orders and pines to be accepted into high society where he believes his intellect should place him. He sees writing as a possible entry and pens a fiercely critical article on the Church of England and its attitude to Darwinism. It is published anonymously but not before word of its true authorship has spread within his small circle of friends. These include Christian Moxey, who has an idealised romantic fixation on a married woman (ultimately found to be unrequited), Moxey's sister Marcella has a likewise unrequited crush on Godwin Peak, and Malkin - a flighty Bohemian who has an idea of training an adolescent girl to be a wife worthy of his radical views, and who has formed a relationship with Mrs. Jacox and her daughters to further this plan (ultimately successful). Ultimately,once denied his aspiration to marry into society Peak goes on a tour of Europe where he contracts Malaria and dies alone in a Viennese boarding-house. Thus Peak was born, lived and died in Exile.