George Meredith and English Comedy: The Clark Lectures for 1969
'It is because we learn from the writers who have either got into difficulties or who have a certain vanity in creating them, that I have chosen Meredith as my subject', says Mr. Pritchett at the beginning of these Clark Lectures for 1969. The Meredith who, as Henry James remarked, 'did the best things best', but whose novels some critics have written off, was in some ways the forerunner of the contemporary novel, its erratic movement, its profusion of metaphor. His strange style was a device for linking his Romance to a real world, and Mr. Pritchett believes that the difficulties of this style have been in any case exaggerated. What he aimed at was comedy; but comedy 'conceived of as theatre'. 'The business of comedy is ruthlessly to expose the false emotions and the false image of oneself.' Meredith's great virtues as a writer of comedy were his power to analyse states of mind and his gift for slipping out of one mind into another. Mr. Pritchett illuminates these virtues no less than Meredith's defects with brilliant commentaries on Beauchamp's Career, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel, Evan Harrington, Harry Richmond and The Egoist. A passionate feminist, a romantic poet with a leaning to the mythic, a champion of intelligence and the values which spring from it, Meredith wrote novels whose originality can be clearly seen from Mr. Pritchett's fresh viewpoint.
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Anthony Powell Aunt Baskelett Beauchamp Beauchamp’s Career boy’s called Carlyle Chapter character civilisation Clara Comic Spirit comic tradition contrivance critics Crossways D. H. Lawrence Diana Dickens difficulty Dr Shrapnel dramatic E. M. Forster Egoist England Evan Harrington fantasy father feeling Ford Madox Ford Forster gentleman George Eliot girl Gissing give Harry Richmond heart Henry James hero idea imagination James Jane Austen Lady Blandish laughter lectures live London look lyrical marriage marry Meredith Meredith’s novels Meredithian Micawber mind moral natural novelist one’s Ordeal of Richard Ottilia passage passion people’s Percy Lubbock poet poetic portrait princess prose psychological Radical Repton rich Richard Feverel Richmond Roy romantic Romfrey Roy’s rumour scene self sense Shagpat Shaving of Shagpat Sir Austin Sir Willoughby snob social squire stage style theme thing Victorian wife Willoughby Patterne woman women words writing young youth