book cover of The Egoist

The Egoist

A novel by

THE EGOIST "is the most perfectly plotted of all our English classical novels", says David Williams in his biography of Meredith; it is the tale of Sir Willoughby Patterne, who "is fully conscious of, and satisfied with, the dependence and subservience of the people surrounding him.. The decisions he takes -- it goes without saying -- will be in the best interests of everybody". But he is rejected not only by the girl whom he had appointed to be his bride, but also by another whom he had twice jilted. Though Meredith subtitled THE EGOIST "a comedy in narrative" (a la Moliere), Williams calls it "a harsh, bleak book: brilliant but with hardly any warmth in it anywhere"; Siegfried Sassoon observes that "this is the tragedy of egoism in all its personifications. Egoists commit suicide by their behaviour towards those whose love and admiration they hungrily covet, and whom they desire to dominate". The fine line between comedy and tragedy in this book is no accident: Meredith had just finished writing AN ESSAY ON COMEDY, and would next write THE TRAGIC COMEDIANS.

Genre: Literary Fiction

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