George Meredith was a lyrical yet searingly honest poet, and an influential novelist whose fiction distilled, contributed to and animated the major debates of the Victorian age. He became at once an arbiter of taste in his own times, and a trailblazer for modernism. In many ways an extraordinary, larger-than-life figure, he has always had his admirers, and critics have continued to be drawn to the biographical, socio-political, scientific and experimental aspects of his oeuvre. Some of his works, including the sonnets ofModern Love, his ‘Essay on Comedy and the Uses of the Comic Spirit’, and novels like The Egoist, have attained the status of classics. The present study focuses on such works, putting them in context to show how innovatively this versatile writer shaped and reshaped his material, and how powerfully his inimitable voice still resonates with (and challenges) us in the twenty first century.
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