chapter  5
35 Pages

The language of filial dialogue in Meredith

ByAlice Crossley

George Meredith's novel The Adventures of Harry Richmond, initially serialised in the Cornhill Magazine in 1870–1871, traces 'the gradual changes of the growing Harry, in his manner of regarding his father and the world. Harry's relationship with his father can clearly be damaging and consuming, their obsessive bond informs Harry's development throughout the novel. Harry has an 'unfilial wish' to distance himself from his father and all but disown him as kin. Meredith, in his own life as a father to two sons and a daughter, was conscious of the responsibilities of a father to his child, although also keenly aware that fostering and maintaining a healthy or 'right relationship' sometimes escaped even the best intentions. In Meredith's novels, father-figures represent inadequate moral guidance for youth, although their inefficiency can be a constructive frustration for the male adolescent heroes to negotiate.