English Literature Of The 19th Century:
Richard Doddridge Blackmore
Sir Walter Besant
Robert Louis Stevenson
Read More Articles About: English Literature Of The 19th Century
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
George Meredith is unique among English novelists. He can never become popular, for he disdains elaborate plots and cares little for dramatic scenes. His design is to reveal character as it is exhibited in real life in a succession of apparently unimportant incidents. All subjects are treated with philosophic calmness, yet with patient study. The minds and thoughts of men, and still more of women, are the objects of his searching analysis. Meredith was born in Hampshire in 1828, and spent much of his child-hood in Germany. He studied law, but soon devoted himself to literature. He married a daughter of Thomas Love Peacock (1785-1866), the fantastic author of the satirical romances, "Headlong Hall" and "Nightmare Abbey." After a volume of poems, Meredith published "The Shaving of Shagpat" (1855), a burlesque Oriental poem. His first and perhaps his finest novel, "The Ordeal of Richard Feverel" (1859), opens with a beautiful love idyll, exhibits a variety of eccentric characters, and closes with tragic gloom. Most of his books deal with the comedy of life, yet in a highly philosophic, rather than amusing way. The most noted are "The Egoist" (1879), "The Tragic Comedians" (1881), "Diana of the Cross-ways" (1885), and "The Amazing Marriage." Women are his favorite study, and Diana, the strong and beautiful Irish gentlewoman, is most radiant, while her lovers are satellites to her glory. Meredith's poems are full of the same philosophic spirit as his novels, and his imagination and love of nature carry him to even greater achievement.