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THE EGOIST
1879. A Comedy in Narrative. In Three Volumes. London: C. Kegan Paul & Co., 1879. 2 pp Vol I undated ads; 32 pp Vol II ads dated Aug 1879. Original greenish-ochre cloth. First Edition of George Meredith's greatest work (though some would argue for THE ORDEAL OF RICHARD FEVEREL) -- a book which, a couple of generations ago, was on every English and American teen-ager's required-reading list. 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.~This is the copy from the renowned Estelle Doheny collection, bearing her small leather bookplate in each volume. The Vol II ad catalogue is dated August 1879, which is the earlier date. This is a handsome set: there is scarcely any external wear (just a bit of very faint rubbing on one front cover), and the original black-coated endpapers are present (a couple of them with minor cracking). Doheny Collection 1484; Collie Xa; Sadleir 1692; Buxton Forman 17. In a morocco-backed slipcase with inner felt-lined chemise.
      [Bookseller: Sumner & Stillman]
Last Found On: 2013-07-26           Check availability:      Biblio    

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