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The Egoist - George Meredith

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THE EGOIST

A Comedy in Narrative


by GEORGE MEREDITH

PRELUDE

A Chapter of which the Last Page only is of any Importance

Comedy is a game played to throw reflections upon social life, and
it deals with human nature in the drawing-room of civilized men
and women, where we have no dust of the struggling outer world, no
mire, no violent crashes, to make the correctness of the
representation convincing. Credulity is not wooed through the
impressionable senses; nor have we recourse to the small circular
glow of the watchmaker's eye to raise in bright relief minutest
grains of evidence for the routing of incredulity. The Comic
Spirit conceives a definite situation for a number of characters,
and rejects all accessories in the exclusive pursuit of them and
their speech. For being a spirit, he hunts the spirit in men;
vision and ardour constitute his merit; he has not a thought of
persuading you to believe in him. Follow and you will see. But
there is a question of the value of a run at his heels.

Now the world is possessed of a certain big book, the biggest book
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