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George Meredith


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George Meredith

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George Meredith was born at Portsmouth in 1828 and was educated in Germany at Neuwied. His literary career extended from 1851 to 1909-a truly imposing space. He died at Flint Cottage, his home at the foot of Box Hill in Surrey in 1909, and (to quote the last line he ever wrote) "victory in his ears sang gracious death." He had fought hard and long. Not until he had passed his sixtieth year did recognition come, and what the world calls success. He accepted both with immense dignity and a flicker of the eyelid-perceptible but clearly seen-only to his intimates. For by then, no doubt, he knew (if he had not always known), what all great fighters know sooner or later, that it was in the fight and not in winning it, that the real zest lay. He published, over a period of fifty years, fifteen novels, several poems, much verse, short stories, journalism, criticism, and the supreme Essay on Comedy. Of the novels, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel is, for every reason, the best; while Diana of the Crossways and The Egoist are probably the best known. He wrote great poetry and, like all great poets, some not-so-great poetry. If a poem which contains:

"Love that had robbed us of immortal things
This little moment mercifully grave
When I have seen across the twilight wave
The swan sail with her young beneath her wings."

will not live in our language always, it matters the less what may. Meredith declined a title and later, a higher title. And because at the time of its bestowal, and for years before, he could not leave Flint Cottage, his order of Merit was brought to him by one of the Royal Household.

[quoted from the back of the Penguin 1946 paperback edition]



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