The Egoist
A Comedy in Narrative
  • Publication Date: March 22, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551116716 / 1551116715
  • 630 pages; 5½" x 8½"

Broadview eBooks are available on a variety of platforms. To learn more, please visit our eBook information page.

Note on pricing.

Request Exam Copy

Examination copy policy

Availability: Worldwide

The Egoist

A Comedy in Narrative

  • Publication Date: March 22, 2010
  • ISBN: 9781551116716 / 1551116715
  • 630 pages; 5½" x 8½"

In The Egoist, his comic masterpiece, George Meredith takes the traditional marriage plot of English domestic fiction and turns it on its head. The novel describes the repeated and disastrous courtships of Sir Willoughby Patterne, the egoist of the title. Three women become engaged to Sir Willoughby, but, despite his aristocratic arrogance and the manipulative power of his wealth, each is finally able to see him more clearly than he sees himself.

The introduction to this edition provides context for the novel from Meredith’s own life, his theory of comedy, and his understanding of Darwinian thought. The appendices include reviews, other writing on comedy, and historical documents on women, sexual politics, and the theory of evolution.


“Richard C. Stevenson is our finest critic of George Meredith. His superb edition of The Egoist makes Meredith’s most poised and brilliant achievement fully accessible to contemporary readers. Illuminating the novel’s contexts in the theory of comedy, the ‘woman question,’ and Darwinian biology, as well as in its author’s life and career, Stevenson restores the radical force of Meredith’s intervention in mid-Victorian sexual politics.” — Ian Duncan, University of California, Berkeley

“This is a fine edition of The Egoist. The treatment accorded this often-neglected novel by Richard C. Stevenson is predictably first rate, considering his earlier work on George Meredith. Following Meredith’s revised text is a plus here, offering, as it does, the author’s final intent. Stevenson’s apparatus also furnishes a useful guide to works relevant not just to The Egoist but to Meredith’s aims and techniques overall. Seldom have I encountered such a project, in which everything is in its proper place. This will be the indispensable edition of The Egoist for years to come.” — Benjamin Franklin Fisher, University of Mississippi

George Meredith: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

The Egoist: A Comedy in Narrative

Appendix A: Comedy

  1. From Anonymous [Molière?], “Letter on The Imposter” (1667)
  2. From George Meredith, “On the Idea of Comedy” (1877; 1898)

Appendix B: From George Meredith, Modern Love (1862)

Appendix C: The Egoist in Meredith’s Letters (1879–1907)

Appendix D: Contemporary Reviews

  1. From William Ernest Henley, Athenaeum (1 November 1879)
  2. From Unsigned, Examiner (1 November 1879)
  3. From James Thomson, Cope’s Tobacco Plant (January 1880)
  4. From Unsigned, New Quarterly Magazine (January 1880)

Appendix E: Feminine Conduct and Women’s Education

  1. From Sarah Stickney Ellis, The Daughters of England (1842)
  2. From Sarah Stickney Ellis, The Wives of England (1843)
  3. From Elizabeth Missing Sewell, Principles of Education (1865; 1866)

Appendix F: Harriet Taylor Mill and John Stuart Mill on Women’s Liberties

  1. From Harriet Taylor Mill, Enfranchisement of Women (July 1851)
  2. From John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women (1869)

Appendix G: Appendix G: From Mrs. Henry Wood, East Lynne (1861; 1862)

Appendix H: From Edward J. Thompson, Suttee, A Historical and Philosophical Enquiry into the Hindu Rite of Widow-

Appendix I: Charles Darwin

  1. From On the Origin of Species (1859)
  2. From The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex (1871; 1877)

Appendix J: From Virginia Woolf, “The Novels of George Meredith” (1932)

Select Bibliography

Richard C. Stevenson is Professor of English at the University of Oregon.