Date of Award
Ph.D. in English
Benjamin F. Fisher
T. J. Ray
George Meredith is perhaps best known for his innovative contributions to the Victorian novel. Unfortunately, his formal experiments in poetry have gone unnoticed. This dissertation seeks to rectify this problem by examining Meredith's metrical art and the ways in which he departs from the metrical tradition. The first chapter of the study evaluates his early poetry, most of which is derivative and metrically conventional. Despite. Only two poems are considered prosodically innovative, “The Death of Winter” and “South-west Wind in the Woodlands.” The second chapter discusses Meredith's experiments with the sonnet tradition, particularly as they relate to his most famous sequence, Modern Love. While most critics have referred to this poem as a sonnet sequence, a formal analysis reveals that the poem's formal provenance is indeterminate. The reason given for such indeterminacy is that the speaker of the piece is also responsible for composing the sequence. The poem's formal peculiarities serve as indicators of the speaker's damaged psyche. The third chapter outlines Meredith's use of meter to connect poems which have been seen as unrelated. Two sequences are discussed. The first sequence contains “The Woods of Westermain” and “The Day of the Daughter of Hades” and the second is comprised of “Phoebus and Admetus,” “Melampus,” and “Love in the Valley.” It is argued that Meredith uses similar formal strategies to connect the poems in each sequence in order to reveal the ways in which these poems inform each other thematically. After both sequences are considered separately, they are read together in order to illustrate how they are related to one another. The dissertation concludes by suggesting potential courses of research still untouched by Meredith scholars.
Johnson, Jason Wayne, "Rebel Discords: George Meredith's Metrical Art" (2011). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 153.