1910 Revised Edition; Charles Scribner's Sons publishers, New York; smaller leather bound book; very good condition with unmarked pages and strong binding; minor fraying of cover edges; previous owner's cursive name inside cover dated 2/15/12; no dust jacket issued.
The Ordeal of Richard Feverel: A History of Father and Son (1859) is the earliest full-length novel by George Meredith; its subject is the inability of systems of education to control human passions. It is one of a select group of standard texts that have been included in all four of Everyman's Library (1935), the New American Library of World Literature (1961), Oxford World's Classics (1984), and Penguin Classics (1998). With its rigorous psychological analysis and criticism of contemporary attitudes to sexuality, it has been seen by some critics as the first modern novel in English literature.
Sir Austin Feverel's wife deserts him to run away with a poet, leaving her husband to bring up their boy Richard. Believing schools to be corrupt, Sir Austin, a scientific humanist, educates the boy at home with a plan of his own devising known as "the System". This involves strict authoritarian supervision of every aspect of the boy's life, and in particular the prevention of any meeting between Richard and girls of his own age. Richard nevertheless meets and falls in love with Lucy Desborough, the niece of a neighboring farmer. Sir Austin finds out and, disapproving of her humble birth, forbids them to meet again, but they secretly marry. Sir Austin now tries to retrieve the situation by sending Richard to London. Here, however, Sir Austin's friend Lord Mountfalcon successfully sets a courtesan to seduce Richard, hoping that this will leave Lucy open to seduction by himself. Ashamed of his own conduct, Richard flees abroad where he at length hears that Lucy has given birth to a baby and has been reconciled to Sir Austin. He returns to England and, hearing about Lord Mountfalcon's villainy, challenges him to a duel. But this goes badly: Richard is seriously wounded. Lucy is so overcome by this turn of events that she loses her mind and dies.