The Genius and Writings of George Meredith

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia

On tuesday 2 november 1892, Arthur Conan Doyle gave a lecture "The Genius and Writings of George Meredith" at the Upper Norwood Literary and Scientific Society (UNLSS) meeting held at the Royal Normal College (Norwood).

Conan Doyle contribution

Conan Doyle did indeed admit that the Meredith's novels are "difficult reading," and that he himself had "never comprehended" at least one of them. He also set aside, as not within his province, all the writings which are classed by their author as "poems," which was a convenient method of eluding the accumulated tortuosities that out — Herod Herod and out — Browning Browning. But for the uninitiated there was no helping hand, no mere match of illumination. The pre-eminent greatness of Meredith was strongly asserted, and his function explained as that of a novelist's novelist — a cistern, or was it a spring? from which other writers draw their inspiration. But popular? No; that could not be alleged, nor was it to be hoped for in any near future. His unconventionality was given as the reason of these things, but no attempt was made to explain why it is that a writer will be no perverse as to use a style which only a few profess to understand, of whom it is possible that some are self-deceived. "The style is the man, not a shirt but a skin," said Dr. Doyle, quoting his author.

He said: "Even when he is at his best we read him from the intellectual pleasure of his style and thought, and not from a keen interest in his story."

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