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  • Melissa Shields Jenkins (a1)
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  • Published online: 18 May 2011

In “The Decay of Lying” (1889), Oscar Wilde's speaker calls Victorian novelist George Meredith “a child of realism who is not on speaking terms with his father” (Wilde 976). The comment underscores the idealism running through Meredith's strange and understudied novels. Wilde's speaker announces that Meredith “has made himself a romanticist” (976), a self-conscious reactionary against Victorian High Realism who is nonetheless situated deeply within it. Meredith's uneasy relationship with his own time has likely affected recent critical assessments of his work. Though his canonical status surpassed George Eliot's in the 1940s, and although there was a mini-explosion of Meredith scholarship in the 1970s, more recent work has focused on his sonnet sequence, Modern Love, and his psychological novel, The Egoist. However, with the rise of interest in the history of the book, gender and sexuality studies, and Victorian publishing, Meredith's novels are becoming the subject of renewed attention.

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Jerome Buckley . Season of Youth: The Bildungsroman From Dickens to Golding. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1974. Print.

Anne C. Henry ‘Explorations in Dot-and-Dashland’: George Meredith's Aphasia.” Nineteenth-Century Literature 61.3 (2006): 311–42. Print.

Robert D. Mayo The Egoist and the Willow Pattern.” English Literary History 9 (1942): 7178. Reprinted in Meredith, George. The Egoist. Ed. Robert M. Adams. New York: Norton, 1979. 453–59. Print.

Neil Roberts . Meredith and the Novel. New York: St. Martin's, 1997. Print.

Clifford Siskin . “Novels and Systems.” Novel: A Forum on Fiction 34.2 (Spring 2001): 202–14. Print.

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Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
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