The Uses of Criticism: Narrativized and Contingent Discourse in The Egoist, Diana of the Crossways, and One of Our Conquerors

Schuster, Zheng-Liann, English - Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, University of Virginia
Arata, Stephen, English, University of Virginia

The novels of George Meredith are frequently characterized as obscure, but what is equally notable are the numerous embedded passages pertaining to theoretical concerns of structure and form. Meredith’s self-conscious treatment of criticism in The Egoist (1879), Diana of the Crossways (1885), and One of Our Conquerors (1891) blurs the traditional distinctions between creative discourse and evaluative commentary and demands simultaneous engagement on the part of the reader. Keeping in mind Meredith’s reputation as an innovator in form, each novel is treated as its own experiment centered around a particular critical focus: relative values in The Egoist, repetition in Diana of the Crossways, and fragmentary treatment in One of Our Conquerors. On the one hand, the distinct but related practices of narrativization and contingent criticism account for scholarly neglect of Meredith’s intermixed prose, while on the other, they reflect the broad definition of the novel as an absorbing and modifying medium.

MA (Master of Arts)
George Meredith, Criticism, Obscurity, Diana of the Crossways, The Egoist, One of Our Conquerors
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