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”—is footnoted as: “mother (female parent); also, a barrier.” What reader, in doubt about what “mother” meant, would need the elaboration “female parent”?
And how could “dam”—in this context of leering foxes and bleating lambs—mean not a mother but “a barrier”?
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Sharp is the night, but stars with frost alive Leap off the rim of earth across the dome.
While Meredith continued to write and publish poetry throughout his life, he is best known for his novels, especially the early novel The Ordeal of Richard Feverel (1859) and the two later ones, The Egoist (1879) and Diana of the Crossways (1885).
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The Egoist, perhaps Meredith's best known novel, was a tragicomedy.“Modern Love” appeared in 1862 as the title poem of the volume , here reprinted as a whole.The editors argue that one reads “Modern Love” better within its original volume: “Juxtaposing multiple versions of ‘modern love,’ the volume thus explores a range of contemporary sociocultural issues, including English cosmopolitanism, the so-called Woman Question, and the diffusion of democratic ideas about social equality.” If you go to poetry for ideas about “contemporary sociocultural issues,” the re-issue of this volume may please you. At the age of 14 he was sent to a Moravian School in Neuwied, Germany, where he remained for two years.He studied law and was apprenticed to a London 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 collected his early writings, first published in periodicals, into Poems, which he managed to publish to some acclaim in 1851.The editors lean on theme, and make strained connections between “Modern Love” and the roadside poems and ballads, but in point of fact none of these ballads or lyrics have gained any lasting literary currency.Their jocularity is forced, their sublimity is tedious, their prosody is lumpy.But the verses accompanying “Modern Love”—the “Poems of the English Roadside” and the added ballads and lyrics—fall, as poetry, so far below “Modern Love” that only specialists in Victorian culture would care about its reappearance in their company.For all the editors’ protestations commending Meredith’s attempts at rustic or working-class diction, there is nothing poetically commendable about these poems.Twentieth century British novelist and short story writer, Angus Wilson, called The Egoist "the turning point in George Meredith's career." Wilson saw Meredith as "the first great art novelist." He considered the book an adaptation of a stage comedy, an achievement he arrogates to few English authors, who more characteristically, he suggests, present only "farce or satire." He compliments Meredith most when he is detached from his characters, as "it is then that our laughter is most thoughtful." Wilson is most taken by "the absolute truth of much of the dialogue." "The way Sir Willoughby continues to speak through the answers of other characters, returning to notice their replies only when his own vein of thought is exhausted" is a "wonderful observation of human speech." More materially, Forster compliments Meredith on not revealing Laetitia Dale's changed feelings for Willoughby until she rejects him in their midnight meeting; "[i]t would have spoiled his high comedy if we had been kept in touch throughout … More recently, feminist critics has argued that the novel dramatizes, among other things, the difficulty that women faced in Victorian society.Meredith's novel depicts a world in which women's bodies and minds were trafficked between fathers and husbands to cement male bonds.