George Meredith is best known for his poetry and his later novel _The Egoist_, and these are indeed the best places to begin with Meredith's oeuvre. _The Ordeal of Richard Feverel_ is not nearly as lapidary in style or as acute in psychology as _The Egoist_. The latter work also illustrates Meredith's famed comic theory, though this is somehat in evidence in _The Ordeal_.
In the final analysis, Meredith's own judgment of _The Ordeal_ is the correct one: it is novel whose dullness proves fatal. Moreover, though _The Ordeal_ displays a sophisticated morality, Meredith's Bildungsroman is greatly inferior to Goethe's model _Wilhelm Meister_. Meredith is neither as perspicacious a psychologist nor as great a stylist as Goethe.
Nonetheless, _The Ordeal_ is a successful dramatic work and provides a wonderful addition to the British Bildungsroman. Furthermore,_The Ordeal_ is a very modern novel, featuring a number of unstable narrative voices, a pervasive intertextuality, and a subtle ironic spirit. Though Meredith's prose, like his poetry, is often overly precious, _The Ordeal_ proves him an incisive writer, leagues above many of his contemporaries, e.g. Thomas Hardy. Indeed, _The Ordeal_, along with _The Egoist_, provides a direct link between the Victorian and the modern novel, and thus, while hardly a masterpiece, it is well worth the time for any reader interested in the development of the English novel.