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Chapter 6 - Meredith’s Fervidness

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 June 2021

Matthew Sussman
Affiliation:
University of Sydney
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Summary

The style of George Meredith represents an opposite extreme from Trollope: dense with epigram and ornament, it is frequently denigrated as extravagant and obscure, violating the realist conventions that Trollope worked hard to establish. However, Chapter 6 demonstrates how Meredith drew on the virtues of Asiatic and baroque styles to create a new form of psychological realism characterized by “fervidness,” the intensity that arises when contradictory principles are held in tension. On the one hand, Meredith gravitated to short forms like epigram to distill complex thoughts into memorable phrases; on the other, he delighted in the flights of fancy permitted by prosaic expansiveness. Through a consideration of major and minor work, this chapter reveals how fervidness is embodied structurally as a drama between conditions of freedom and constraint that impinge upon the development of central characters. In this way, Meredith’s “fervidness” formally replicates a dynamic that plays out thematically, making his style much more referential in terms of its relation to content than that of either Thackeray or Trollope before him.

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Chapter
Information
Stylistic Virtue and Victorian Fiction
Form, Ethics, and the Novel
, pp. 144 - 166
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Meredith’s Fervidness
  • Matthew Sussman, University of Sydney
  • Book: Stylistic Virtue and Victorian Fiction
  • Online publication: 11 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108966436.007
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  • Meredith’s Fervidness
  • Matthew Sussman, University of Sydney
  • Book: Stylistic Virtue and Victorian Fiction
  • Online publication: 11 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108966436.007
Available formats
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To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Meredith’s Fervidness
  • Matthew Sussman, University of Sydney
  • Book: Stylistic Virtue and Victorian Fiction
  • Online publication: 11 June 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108966436.007
Available formats
×