Self-help literature is now a booming niche in bookstores and online retailers. It caters to people’s desire to better themselves and their lives. But did you know that the self-help genre has been around for a long time? One of the earliest practitioners, and perhaps one of the most interesting, is George Meredith – a Victorian-era novelist, poet, and essayist. In this blog post, we’ll explore how George Meredith became the self-help guru of his time, and how his teachings can still be applied in our modern world.
George Meredith started his literary career in the mid-nineteenth century, a time when Victorian society was experiencing rapid changes. The Industrial Revolution was transforming the country, but it was also creating new social problems. Many people were struggling to cope with the changes, and this gave rise to a new interest in self-improvement. Meredith recognized this need and began incorporating advice on how to live a fulfilling life into his novels and essays.
One of the most famous examples of his self-help philosophy can be found in his novel, The Egoist. The central character, Sir Willoughby Patterne, is a wealthy and successful man, but he is also selfish and egotistical. Through the course of the novel, Sir Willoughby receives a series of wake-up calls that force him to reexamine his life and become a better person. Meredith’s message is clear – true happiness can only be achieved by living a life that is good and just.
Another example of Meredith’s self-help philosophy can be found in his essay, “On the Idea of Comedy and the Uses of the Comic Spirit.” In this essay, Meredith argues that comedy has a therapeutic effect on the human psyche. By laughing at our own mistakes and shortcomings, we can learn to accept them and move on. This is an important lesson for anyone who wants to live a happier life – by embracing our flaws, we can become more resilient and better able to deal with life’s challenges.
Meredith also emphasized the importance of living in the present moment. In his poetry, he often wrote about the beauty of nature and the joy of living in the now. He believed that people should not be obsessed with either the past or the future, but rather should be fully present in the moment. This is still relevant advice today, as many people struggle with anxiety and stress caused by worrying too much about what has already happened or what might happen in the future.
In addition to his literary works, Meredith also wrote a series of essays specifically on self-improvement. These essays covered a range of topics, from the importance of physical exercise to the need for humility. These essays were widely read during Meredith’s lifetime, and they continue to offer valuable advice to this day.
George Meredith was one of the first writers to recognize the importance of self-improvement in the Victorian era. His message of living a good and just life, embracing our flaws, and living in the present moment is still relevant today. His works offer practical advice and inspiration for anyone who wants to live a better life. A true self-help guru of his time, George Meredith’s legacy continues to live on.