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The Egoist
George Meredith
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The Egoist

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  1,229 Ratings  ·  52 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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Jeffrey Keeten
Sep 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian
”Talking of Meredith, I have just re-read for the third or fourth time The Egoist. When I shall have read it the sixth or seventh, I begin to see I shall know about it. You will be astonished when you come to re-read it; I had no idea of the matter--human red matter--he has contrived to plug and pack into that strange and admirable book. Willoughby is, of course, a pure discovery; a complete set of nerves, not heretofore examined, and yet running all over the human body--a suit of nerves.”

John Fuller
May 21, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Andrei Tamaş
Feb 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Meredith (1828-1909) este un exponent al realismului britanic, una dintre cele mai proeminente figuri ale epocii. Deşi caracterizată puternic de victorianism, opera sa se distanţează timid de acesta, motiv pentru care scrierile sale au constituit un vast subiect de vâlvă, multe dintre operele distinsului autor fiind retrase din bibliotecile publice într-un timp scurt de la apariţie. Putem spune, aşadar, că sobrietatea englezească şi tendinţele conservatoare rezistă, indiferent de şoriceii ...more
Sep 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, 1800-1900
This is a fascinating literary curiosity: a late-Victorian novel (1879) with remarkable anticipations of modernism in some respects. I was reminded especially of Henry James, whose obliquities and curlicues of style Meredith can match like for like; though I could also see why Virginia Woolf admired Meredith’s novels and The Egoist in particular (she has a very nice essay on him in The Second Common Reader, written for the centenary of his birth in 1928.)

Meredith describes The Egoist on its titl
Jul 01, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sarah Magdalene
Sep 22, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Nell’introduzione al romanzo si dice che André Gide l’abbia definito uno dei libri più noiosi che abbia mai letto. Io non sono d’accordo, tant’è che mi sono divertita parecchio. Riconosco che vi sono alcune lungaggini e alcune situazioni che si ripetono più volte quasi immutate. Indubbiamente, un certo numero di pagine in meno e qualche taglio qua e là avrebbero giovato. Ma, in generale, è spassoso, arguto e molto moderno, considerando che la sua pubblicazione risale al 1879. Quindi, mi ha fatto ...more
Nov 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  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
May 17, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: humour
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 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Susan Harter
Apr 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
A.K. Frailey
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a fascinating love story where the main character has to discern what love really means as she attempts to get out an engagement with a man who thinks he knows all about love. It makes one realize, we are sometimes not who we think we are...
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.

The audio version is available at LibriVox.
Adam Floridia
Jul 26, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 18, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 17, 2014 marked it as wish-list  ·  review of another edition
to look into/hunt down
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
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
Sep 11, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is about how a young woman, betrothed to a dazzlingly perfect man, trying her best to escape. The constraints of her condition -- Victorian strict mores and conducts -- is still rather lame stuff compared to Jane Eyre. The conversations are occasionally sparkling, particularly that of Mrs Mountstuart, but the whole plot is a light comedy with infrequent dark materials woven in it (I am a bit weary of the angelic boy Crossjoy and the caricature of Dr. Middleton). The center of the stor ...more
Tom Leland
May 08, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At 523 pages, this novel was excessively wordy and long-winded, a trait common to many earlier Victorian novels. However, after the extremely dense and tiresome opening chapter (which I recommend skipping--even the author suggests this!), it was entertaining, a sort of male-protagonist counterpart to Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In other respects it was not truly a Victorian novel: published in 1899, it partly anticipated the growing women's liberation movement in showing the necessity of ...more
The Usual
I'm not quite sure to make of this one. I started out groping for meaning in a thick fog of polysyllables, fought my way to a fervent desire that Clara would just ditch the (rich, handsome, outwardly charming) loser and move on, stopped off to admire a few flashes of wisdom, and then watched as Mr Meredith far too rapidly resolved the kind of multiple misunderstanding that P G Wodehouse made a career out of. On the other hand it was, after a couple of hundred pages of "I understood every word of ...more
Mar 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a very dense novel and I was afraid I wouldn't be able to finish it as it is so complex and full of, to me unknown, references. Half-way during the read though it got better and I sort of got the hang of Meredith's style. It is a pretty unusual achievement I think, although not altogether in my preferred cup of tea, as Meredith is really taking the mickey out of 19th century aristocratic males with their Tennyson-like opinions on women,marriage and their all-important selves.
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
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.
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.
Aug 07, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 12, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 19thcentury
The biggest drawback of this book was that it was quite long. That's not a bad thing except for when it's long because it's repetitive. I could have done with fewer conversations covering the same ground of earlier chapters. I guess some things never change...
Aug 09, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
Has some perceptive thoughts on the title subject, a handful of gems scattered through the book, but the rhetorical style makes this one tough going most of the way despite some humourous and touching passages and sympathetic characters
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just some observations 1 8 Mar 07, 2013 11:52AM  
  • The Nether World
  • Maurice Guest
  • Ayala's Angel
  • The Echoing Grove
  • The Well-Beloved
  • The History of Henry Esmond, Esq.
  • Esther Waters
  • The Doctor's Wife
  • The Morgesons
  • Dover Beach and Other Poems
  • Nightmare Abbey; Crotchet Castle
  • The Heir of Redclyffe
  • Miss Marjoribanks (Chronicles of Carlingford, #5)
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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“Cynicism is intellectual dandyism. ” 13 likes
“The capaciously strong in soul among women will ultimately detect an infinite grossness in the demand for purity infinite, spotless bloom. Earlier or later they see they have been victims of the singular Egoist, have worn a mask of ignorance to be named innocent, have turned themselves into market produce for his delight, and have really abandoned the commodity in ministering to the lust for it, suffered themselves to be dragged ages back in playing upon the fleshly innocence of happy accident to gratify his jealous greed of possession, when it should have been their task to set the soul above the fairest fortune and the gift of strength in women beyond ornamental whiteness. Are they not of nature warriors, like men?—men's mates to bear them heroes instead of puppets? But the devouring male Egoist prefers them as inanimate overwrought polished pure metal precious vessels, fresh from the hands of the artificer, for him to walk away with hugging, call all his own, drink of, and fill and drink of, and forget that he stole them.” 1 likes
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