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Title: Inner action in the novels of George Meredith, with special reference to 'One of Our Conquerors'
Author: Harris, Margaret Ann
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1969
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My case for Meredith is that a discussion of his novels in terms of his acknowledged concern for analysing and representing inner action shows him as a more interesting and significant figure than is generally allowed. The usual ways of regarding his work, in terms of his ideas about the Comic Spirit or Nature, tend to overlook his conscious and responsible exploration of the capacities of fiction throughout a career which spanned half a century. In his earlier works Meredith modified various popular forms of fiction, always resisting what he took to be conventional expectations of excitement in external action in favour of stressing the complex reality of the inner life. From The Egoist on his independence was even more strikingly manifested, and in both the themes and the techniques of his late novels he experimented further with reading the inner as well as exhibiting the outer". Meredith's idiosyncratic style has always been subject to criticism and abuse because of its elliptical tortuosity. While it is both a dense and a mercurial mode, it is by no means ungoverned : the voice of Meredith as omniscient narrator is always present in his narrative, but subtle and rapid stylistic variations are used to project attitudes in his characters and evoke atmosphere. This ventriloquial technique is one of his main methods of representing inner action : to the same end he also makes more than mechanical use of documentary devices such as tutelary books and letters; and his congenital allusiveness leads him to some peculiar exercises with imagery. As well as presenting Meredith's stylistic excesses in an extreme form, One of Our Conquerors provides a particular opportunity for considering Meredith's aims and methods since the manuscript of the novel survives, as well as an early draft. Consideration of Meredith's revisions points to a pressure to intensify his treatment of inner action, to modify the national theme, and to continue his expatiations on the purpose of fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature