The Ordeal of Richard Feverel - by George Meredith
Free US/UK Kindle
The Ordeal of Richard Feverel is an
1859 novel by English author George Meredith.
(US Edition) (UK Edition) One of several candidates for "the first
novelist," this is Meredith's best known book. I think you have to say he has been forgotten
when the Amazon UK site has no reviews of the free Kindle edition of this book!
foreword of the book has a rather different take on Meredith's posterity:
the Victorian novelists, George Meredith occupies a place apart. Unlike
Dickens, Thackeray, and Eliot, he appeals to a select few. Those who appreciate
him are folk of his own temper—cultivated, intellectual, urbane. They are
persons of taste and discernment. They are generally the middle-aged rather
than the young. They are those who, aloof and contemplative, relish the comedy
of life, rather than those who throw themselves whole-heartedly into the game.
It is not to be marvelled at, therefore, that Meredith should have won his way
slowly, or that recognition, when it came, should have rendered his position
unique and secure.
I would say painting George
Eliot's "Middlemarch" as middlebrow or pop culture is kind of a hard
sell. However, you don't have to
read these sour grapes - just dive into the novel and immediately encounter:
five years of marriage, and twelve of friendship, Sir Austin was left to his
loneliness with nothing to ease his heart of love upon save a little baby boy
in a cradle. He forgave the man: he put him aside as poor for his wrath. The
woman he could not forgive; she had sinned every way. Simple ingratitude to a
benefactor was a pardonable transgression, for he was not one to recount and
crush the culprit under the heap of his good deeds. But her he had raised to be
his equal, and he judged her as his equal. She had blackened the world's fair
aspect for him.
As with any candidate for
first novel, you can expect some oddities in the structure.
comrade of some description was necessary, for Richard was neither to go to
school nor to college. Sir Austin considered that the schools were corrupt, and
maintained that young lads might by parental vigilance be kept pretty secure
from the Serpent until Eve sided with him: a period that might be deferred, he
said. He had a system of education for his son. How it worked we shall see.
So it seems this is a book
about education . . . Enjoy!
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