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The Egoist
George Meredith
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The Egoist

3.65 of 5 stars 3.65  ·  rating details  ·  724 ratings  ·  40 reviews
These little scoundrel imps, who have attained to some respectability as the dogs and pets of the Comic Spirit, had been curiously attentive three years earlier, long before the public announcement of his engagement to the beautiful Miss Durham, on the day of Sir Willoughby's majority, when Mrs. Mountstuart Jenkinson said her word of him.
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Published January 1st 2010 by MVB E-Books (first published 1879)
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John Fuller
This is a fantastic story about Willoughby, a man who is so self-centered he never considers the possibility that other people are separate human beings. Dead-on portrayal of awful social situations (think Jane Austen). I laughed over and over at the awkwardness of Willoughby's bride-to-be, and the painfully clueless behavior of the Egoist himself.

One caveat, though : you gotta love Victorian novels to make it through this one. The Egoist contains some of the densest English I have ever read. (I
Meredith, George. THE EGOIST. (1879; this ed. 1963). ****. Meredith was one of the authors on my guilt list. He’s one of the writers that I knew I should read, but never got round to doing so. This is probably one of his most famous novels, but it took me by surprise. I expected his writing to be like most of the other writing of time in England, but I was wrong. When I read the first chapter, I was totally conufused: It had nothing to do with the rest of the book. When I got to chapter 2, the s ...more
Comic tale of gentry courtship. Willoughby, ostensibly the titular egoist, is upended repeatedly in his amorous advances. But this dialogue rich, gorgeously written (imo - period style may not be to everyone's taste) Victorian novel is definitely not as simple as it might seem. My first read and hopefully no the last. The cross-relations amongst the throng of characters are complex and revealing. This seems like too deep a pond to skate lightly over once. According to wikipedia, in his essay "Bo ...more
Sarah Magdalene
It’s quite sad that people always look eastward for enlightenment, when it can just as easily be found in our own native literature, if not for the sorry fact that ‘education’ makes people frightened of reading. Frightened of thinking in fact.

In any case, thinking about how lovely all the female characters are in The Egoist brought a little tear to my eye last night. It is a very lovely book. You end up loving them all, even the unbearable Egoist, who really just needs a sound thrashing from a c
Dense, ornate, tricksy, bewildering, erudite, mannered, humane and witty, this book is likely to either delight or exasperate its readers.

It is the story of Sir Willougby Patterne, a handsome and well-bred young man, and the women he courts, whose names belie their characters: Laetitia being anything but joyful, Constantia inconstant, and Clara not at all clear-headed, except when she perceives that the man to whom she has just become engaged is a monstrous and self-centered Egoist.

Much of the
The Egoist is one of the strangest novels I have come across, a psychological analysis of a type particularly interesting because men like him often rise to positions of power in politics or commerce.

The novel would have been tedious, as well as confusing, if George Meredith had used the egoist as first person narrative. Instead, Meredith takes an oblique approach by viewing the egoist through the corners of other people’s eyes. There are problems with this approach, too, for the reader. The eg
Nov 10, 2013 Nancy rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who likes 19th century authors and novels.
The Egoist might remind you of someone you know.
Sir Willoughby Patterne is self-centered, wealthy, unforgiving and worried about what people think. There are three women in his life and he plans to marry each one until he is dumped and then discovers a new one in the nick of time to save face. Sir. Willoughby can't make up his mind who will best set off his home and himself. It's all about appearances.
But this isn't at all a completely serious book. Enter Mrs. Mountstewart Jenkinson, a kind o
Susan Harter
The opening essay on comedy is a little heavy, and sometimes his allusions are so erudite, obscure and dated I have no idea what he's talking about.

But putting all that aside this is a surprisingly modern story. A young, rich, beautiful woman finds herself engaged to a not-so-young, rich and beautiful man. Both are considered the catch of the county. But she soon realizes, though she can't quite name or understand it, that something is very very wrong with him. Her growing realization, both of h
It's hard to explain quite what's not especially readable about this book and why I liked it anyway. Meredith has a distinct, very mannered, dense, allusive style, which is kind of reminiscent of Oscar Wilde and Ivy Compton Burnett but is ultimately more obscure even than the latter. Sometimes this is okay and sometimes Meredith isn't saying anything interesting and is just tripping himself up.

The book is introduced as the comedy of the Egoist, Sir Willoughby Patterne, as he tries to get marrie
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

The audio version is available at LibriVox.
Adam Floridia
George Meredith's sentences are absolutely labyrinthine and took some getting used to (although, even at the end of the book I was rereading some passages to discern meaning). This made for a VERY slow read. What’s more, not a whole lot happens in the 400+ pages—Clara Middleton tries to disengage herself from Sir Willoughby. The story itself is a dry satire revolving around the (mock) epic battles that take place in aristocratic drawing rooms and dining rooms. Despite the seeming drawbacks, the ...more
D.j. Lang
Rating this book is quite a challenge. There is a story in it worth reading; however, getting to the story may prove difficult for some readers -- Meredith spends (if I am remembering correctly) a whole two pages discussing a man's leg! When I first read this book back in the 70s for a class, there was some discussion about how we had to read books by 4th and 5th rated male writers, and women authors received little attention if they weren't an Austen, a Bronte, or an Eliot. Still, fifth rated o ...more
Christian Schwoerke
I had read this novel in my college days, as part of a tutorial on comedy. There was some vague recollection of its quality, and I re-read it last month with some anticipation of quietly chuckling. I didn't have that experience, and I wondered at my recollections; had I a better appreciation of the arch and precious writing then, was I simply awarding myself a recollection of pleasure for weathering the experience, or had I matured out of it, in the way one grows out of favor for the infantile p ...more
Last night I finished reading The Egoist by George Meredith. I have to say it took me quite awhile and several attempts to get through it. But for the past week, the last 300 pages or so I got sucked in and could barely put it down. It was a very witty look at the lives of men and women, and the problems between the sexes in upper class England in the 1850's. Very enjoyable in a Jane Austin, Oscar Wilde kind of way. It was impressive how wonderfully the female characters were treated, how they w ...more
Dara Salley
I was fully prepared to hate this book and after the first chapter or two I thought I might not be able to make it through. However, as I stuck with it, the book began to reveal its charms. It has some very insightful remarks about human relationships. I enjoyed the idea of using the concept of evolution as a backdrop for a comic drama. Some reviewers have referred to this as a feminist novel, but I don’t really see it that way. It shows a woman coming to the realization of what is entailed in m ...more
I thought this book started slowly and was daunted by the 600 pages to come, but it soon got really interesting. The main character's name, Willoughby Patterne, is your clue that this is a comedy of manners. For a Victorian novel quite withering about humans and our foibles. Which lady will Sir Willoughby propose to, and what will happen if she refuses?
Josephine Ensign
Apart from some obscure and perhaps outdated (to me) 'Britishisms,' this was a rollicking fun read. I now understand why Virginia Woolf gushed over his writing. He is quite perceptive about human interactions, especially male-female and upper class-'other' class.
Yes, this is it. The final installment of Tonight's worst books of all time and a really really ghastly 400 pages of anything that dared call itself a novel.
The Egoist left a deep twist in my heart how I see the vanity, power and egos of today's world. George Meredith captivated the characteristics of each cast!
Tom Leland
“We all know the Victorian writers, Dickens, Thackeray, George Eliot, Trollope, Hardy, even Gissing. But there is one, in his time as celebrated as any of them, who is forgotten. George Meredith was admired by his peers. Stevenson, for instance, said that he was ‘out and away the greatest force in English letters.’ He was commended by most critics, even while some complained of his difficulty. He had fervent readers. Yet now the literary departments hardly know his name…."

--Doris Lessing

This was
Duncan Holmes
May 25, 2015 Duncan Holmes is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eng-lit
Initially almost unreadable, after the first couple of chapters this is thoroughly fascinating.
James Violand
Jul 02, 2014 James Violand rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one.
Shelves: own
It's hard to like a book whose protagonist is so unlikable. I did not care for this at all.
A funny one, this. Parts of it struck me as very well observed, particularly for a Victorian male. But other parts were a bit incoherent, and by the end I was just waiting for it to stop.
PJ Ebbrell
If you like over written Victorian comedy of manners, then this is the book for you. 1870s when it was first written, more a museum piece than of general interest.
Tough getting the hang of the prose, although the convoluted sentences are part of the satire of the book so they are supposed to be tough going. A 21st century sensibility would like a more concise book, but this is a trip back in time.

The basic trick is to imagine this as a Gilbert & Sullivan play without the music. I am sure Gilbert would have liked the idea of a father encouraging his daughter to wed a fellow with a good wine cellar.
About as good as a book can be without being recommendable to anybody. Interesting if you love Victorian romance or have a deep interest in the history of psychology in the late 19th century.

verrry tough read, took me weeks to get through. Meredith's satirical style actually makes him harder to read than his straight-forward contemporaries, imo.
Elizabeth LaPrelle
Too squirmy! I can't believe how many conversations about vitally important matters were completely misinterpreted because of pronoun use! It was supposed to be funny, and it sort of was. It was like a long, better-written, more morally-directed, better-costumed episode of Friends. But it was still like an episode of Friends.
This book takes time since it's point of view is so microscopic. I have to leave to read other books. How does one deal with the wealthy egoist with a marvelous wine/port selection?? I will finish this in 2011....getting closer with rescue on the horizon as LaCraye gets more involved.
A re-read of a book I read in college. I still enjoy it. For a comedy, it's not especially funny--but I love the way it lays bare the thoughts and motivations of all the characters. My only disappointment is that considering the title, I'd really like more of a focus on waffles.
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just some observations 1 4 Mar 07, 2013 11:52AM  
  • The Nether World
  • Maurice Guest
  • The Morgesons
  • The Trumpet-Major
  • The Three Clerks
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • Nightmare Abbey; Crotchet Castle
  • The Heir Of Redclyffe
  • The Echoing Grove
  • East Lynne
  • Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford, #5)
  • Esther Waters
  • Deerbrook
  • Poetical Works
George Meredith was an English novelist and poet during the Victorian era. He read law and was articled as a solicitor, but abandoned that profession for journalism and poetry shortly after marrying Mary Ellen Nicolls, a widowed daughter of Thomas Love Peacock, in 1849. He was twenty-one years old; she was thirty.

He collected his early writings, first published in periodicals, into Poems, which wa
More about George Meredith...
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