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The Ordeal of Richard Feverel

George Meredith

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .t there is no doubt he made use of every illustration to disgust or encourage his son that his neighbourhood afforded him, and did not spare his brother, for whom Richard entertained a contempt in proportion to his admiration of his father, and was for flying into penitential extremes which Sir Austin had to soften.

The boy prayed with his father morning and night.

"How is it, sir," he said one night, "I can't get Tom Bakewell to pray?"

"Does he refuse?" Sir Austin asked.

"He seems to be ashamed to," Richard replied. "He wants to know what is the good? and I don't know what to tell him."

"I'm afraid it has gone too far with him," said Sir Austin, "and until he has had some deep sorrows he will not find the divine want of Prayer. Strive, my son, when you represent the people, to provide for their education. He feels everything now through a dull impenetrable rind. Culture is half-way to heaven. Tell him, my son, should he . . . Read More

Community Reviews

The “ordeal” that young Richard must endure in The Ordeal of Richard Feverel is “The System” under which his father is raising him. Sir Austin Feverel is a self-declared “Scientific Humanist” (whatever that is) who is disappointed in his own marriage after his wife leaves him to run off with a poet

'An Age of betty tit for tat,
An Age of busy gabble:
An Age that's like a brewer's vat,
Fermenting for the rabble!

'An Age that's chaste in Love, but lax
To virtuous abuses:
Whose gentlemen and ladies wax
Too dainty for their uses.

'An Age that drives an Iron Horse,
Of Time and Space defiant;

Note: there are two versions of this novel, one from 1859 and the 1878 revision(one used in modern editions of the novel).

Other than that this is a great story and the novel that features the most adventure in any of Meredith’s works.

Richard Feverel is the darling child of a nobleman, Sir Austin, whose life has been warped by his wife running off with his best friend, a poet to whom he gave house-room. He determines that Richard will not share the same fate, and educates him according to a comprehensive 'System' of manners and r

The Ordeal of Richard Feverel is a Victorian bildungsroman that follows the early life of an heir raised and educated according to a "System" of his father's devising. When I heard about the book, it was described as a philosophical novel, and it is so in the best sense: the characters are motivated

This was my most enjoyable experience of classic literature in some time. I'm amazed at how Meredith wrote such unapologetically glowing prose that manages to be fanciful while still presenting a realistic, believable story. He imbues every line with wit and grace, and most importantly, a healthy se

More people should read George Meredith. This is insightful, witty, and compassionate writing. But with Meredith's novels the language is so interestingly ironic and literary that it feels like you're looking through several different lenses onto the action or particular characters. It makes for a s

Some books are simply impossible to pigeonhole, although sensational, psychological, socially critical Bildungsroman pretty much covers the waterfront of The Ordeal of Richard Feverel: A History of a Father and Son. George Meredith’s most successful early novel is this exquisite dissection of the sm

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