George Meredith: Poet and Novelist

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George Meredith as a Poet :-
      George Meredith (1828-1909) were best known for his novels, but his poetical works also attain a great respect in the realm of literary art. George Meredith began by writing delightful and easily intelligible lyrics, of which the most memorable is Love in the Valley. Meredith was not a poet wedded to the cult of art for art's sake. He had a philosophy to express. Modern. Love (1862) is a narrative poem tracing the relations of husband and wife It is a fictionalised version of the break down of Meredith's first marriage. It is a series of fifty short poems, each of sixteen lines.

George Meredith began by writing delightful and easily intelligible lyrics, of which the most memorable is Love in the Valley.
George Meredith

      The rest of his poetry, apart from several generous political outbursts like The Odes in contribution of the song of French History is almost entirely occupied with the riddle of the world and the lessons of life to be drawn from it. He believed in evolution and he believed that man would evolve to a state of gradually widening intelligence and more refined spirituality. His subtle ideas are expressed with very unequal success in Poems and Lyrics of the Joy of Earth and A Reading of Earth in which his most beautiful verses are undoubtedly those dedicated to Nature, like Love in a Valley, The Woods. of Westermain, The Lark Ascending, The Thrush in February. Meredith's poetry is rich in sense and substance. It has moments of singular beauty. But its command or rhythm is imperfect, though it attempts the boldest experiments in versification. His poetry is mostly obscure to the general readers, it can yield up its emotion of meaning only to the elect few.

George Meredith as a Novelist :-
      Like George Eliot, Meredith possessed a fully formed philosophy of life based on current philosophic thought. Like Eliot's novels, his novels are also intellectual and remarkable for penetrating analysis of characters. George Meredith began his literary career with The Shaving of Shagpat (1856). He undertook a study of English society with The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859) followed by Evan Harrington (1861). His next novel Emilia in England was published in 1864 and a year later Rhoda Fleming. Among other novels the most important are The Egoist, Diana of the Crossways, Beauchamnp's Career, One of Our Conquerors, The Amazing Marriage. He attempted historical romance in Vittoria.

      George Meredith set forth his philosophy of art in his critical book, The Idea of Comedy and the uses of the Comic Spirit (1877). According to him comedy is the weapon of intelligence against barbarism. All of Meredith's novels should be read in the light of this essay. They are nearly always animated by the contest of intelligence, reason and commonsense - the comic spirit against tradition or prejudice, social stupidity or individual folly.

      In The Ordeal of Richard Feverel the conflict is between two generations, between expanding human nature and the abstract system by which Sir Austin Feverel tries to mould the character of his son. In Evan Harrington the attack is made by a tailor's son against the barriers of aristocratic society. In Beauchamp's Career, there is the revolt of the highborn hero against the domination of his class. In The Egoist, Clara Middleton escapes from Sir Willoughby Patterne by eloping with Vernone Whitford who represents the spirit by which men and women are drawn to mutual likeness. In his Amazing Marriage, the revolt is that or the wife against the tyranny of the husband. Thus it is clear that Meredith felt himself engaged in the task of civilisation that of purging humanity of pretensions hypocrisy and conceit.

      George Meredith once declared, "I never outline my novels before starting on them." His method was to take a situation and put his characters in motion allowing their thought and their behaviour to develop his theme. Often his imagination was set at work by some well-known episode, of which the accounts, real or legendary were current at the time and which constituted a sort of test case. His manner was epigrammatic he passed from aphorism to aphorism. Methodical analysis and strict logic gave place to a manner that was from the first impressionistic.

      Everywhere Meredith displays a rare penetration into the characters of men and women. He excels in laying bare particularly in men the springs of egotism. His ideas found expression in a style of rare charm and singular subtlety, Filled with allusions not easy to grasp, his prose requires an often painful effort. Certainly, it is a worthy error but the radiance of the writer is obscured. Meredith like George Eliot was a conscious artist and contributed to the development of psychological realism in the novelistic art.

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