Sitting down to inspect the final volume of Pierre Coustillas’s monumental trilogy, I decided to start by counting the number of titles by or about George Gissing (1857–1903) that gleamed from the bookshelf hard by. There were 45 of them. Next, I decided to count the number of these items with which Professor Coustillas was in some way associated, either as editor, compiler or presiding genius. This realised a tally of 19, including such titanic endeavours as the Collected Letters of George Gissing (nine vols, 1990–1997) or the 600-page and now, alas, superannuated George Gissing: The Definitive Bibliography from 2005.
As these statistics confirm, Coustillas is the staunchest defender, proselytiser and all-round apologist that Gissing ever had: a long-term conductor of the Gissing Journal, an impresario of every Gissing project worth the name, fit to be ranked, in the reputation-broking stakes, with Ernest Mehew on Stevenson and Gordon N.