George Meredith

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Meredith, George,

1828–1909, English novelist and poet. One of the great English novelists, Meredith wrote complex, often comic yet highly cerebral works that contain striking psychological character studies. As a youth he attended a Moravian school in Germany and eventually became apprenticed to a London lawyer. He began his career as a freelance journalist, contributing to newspapers and magazines in London. His first volume of poems appeared in 1851 and received the praises of Tennyson. In 1849 he married Mary Ellen Nicoll, the widowed daughter of Thomas Love Peacock; she left him in 1858. Modern Love (1862), a series of 50 connected poems, reflects his own experience in relating the tragic dissolution of a marriage. He married Marie Vulliamy, happily, in 1864 and settled in Surrey, the location that inspired many of his later nature poems. Although Meredith began and ended his literary career as a poet, he is best remembered as a novelist. His first distinguished work, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, appeared in 1859. His other notable books include Evan Harrington (1860), The Adventures of Harry Richmond (1871), The Egoist (1879), and Diana of the Crossways (1885). His famous critical essay, On the Idea of Comedy and the Uses of the Comic Spirit (1897), was first delivered as a lecture in 1877. Meredith's novels and poems are written in a brilliant but oblique style. Highly intellectual, his novels often treat social problems. Prominent in all his works is his joyful belief in life as a process of evolution.


See various volumes of his letters; biography by L. Stevenson (1953, repr. 1967); studies by G. M. Trevelyan (1906, repr. 1966), S. Sassoon (1948, repr. 1969), J. B. Priestley (1926, repr. 1970), G. Beer (1970), R. Muendel (1986).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Meredith, George


Born Feb. 12, 1828, in Portsmouth; died May 18, 1909, at Box Hill, near London. English writer. Son of a tailor.

In Meredith’s first novel, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859), the natural instincts of man come into conflict with the demands of society. All his later works, which developed in the mainstream of critical realism, were dominated by this conflict. Among his novels are Evan Harrington (1860), The Adventures of Harry Richmond (1870-71; Russian translation, 1870), Beauchamp’s Career (1874-75; Russian translation, 1876), The Egoist (1879; Russian translation, 1894), The Tragic Comedians (1880; Russian translation, 1912), and One of Our Conquerors (1891). The driving force in his novels is directed at the exposure of egotism and the hypocrisy of bourgeois England. At the end of his life Meredith devoted himself almost exclusively to poetry.


Works, vols. 1-34. London, 1896-1911.
Works. Memorial edition, vols. 1-27. New York, 1909-11.
Letters, vols. 1-3. London, 1970.
In Russian translation:
Egoist. Moscow, 1970.


Urnov, M. V. Na rubezhe vekov. Moscow, 1970.
Lindsay, J. G. Meredith, His Life and Work. London [1956].
Beach, J. W. The Comic Spirit in G. Meredith. New York, 1963.
Meredith Now: Some Critical Essays. London [1971].


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
(1) George Meredith, Modern Love, in Modern Love and Poems of the English Roadside, with Poems and Ballads, ed.
Good writers need no such warning, and after a brief encounter with Wilkie Collins we return to firmer ground with George Meredith and Virginia Woolf.
In his 1906 critical analysis, The Poetry and Philosophy of George Meredith, George Macaulay Trevelyan, noted Victorian critic, (3) devotes seven pages of text to summarizing "The Day of the Daughter of Hades." While his annotations interspersed with long quotes from the poem help the reader to gain a better understanding of this complicated poem, his unease with critically engaging the text suggests that the poem is solely important in terms of its plot and narrative qualities.
These previous settlers included her father-in-law, George Meredith, and her husband Charles, who from an early age had been set to work on his father's property.
George Meredith's Modern Love was condemned with such virulence when it first appeared in 1862 that it came to be seen as a threat to the moral well-being of the nation.
One boy, a George Meredith, chose the theatre for his subject and I will remember his opening line - 'It looks like a factory from afar.' He received no marks and a right rollicking from the master but I've remembered and agreed with him every time I have visited the theatre since.
Foote clearly influenced George Meredith. In Hardy's Jude Marsh finds echoes of both Foote and Thomas Pooley, a genuinely obscure Cornish laborer jailed for blasphemy.
As George Meredith put it so well in The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, "Kissing don't last: Cookery do!"
The Amazing Victorian: A Life of George Meredith. Mervyn Jones.
Adventurous George Meredith, 12, tumbled more than 200ft after slipping as he attempted a dangerous climb.
Harman's next subject, George Meredith, might not seem to qualify as a male author of a "feminine political novel." But Harman's title refers to works that portray women's struggles in the public sphere.
The reputation of George Meredith remains uncertain.