In "Decay of Lying", Oscar Wilde's essay in dialogue form, he discusses George Meredith: "if the man's fine spirit did not revolt against the noisy assertions of realism, his style would be quite sufficient of itself to keep life at a respectful distance" It is a wonderful summary of Meredith, particularly in the case of The Egoist. The novel combines really interesting and impressive realism of character with a style that is almost opaque - a style that requires some adjustment for the modern reader. But once you stop fighting the style and really let yourself read the book, you will enjoy it a lot.
It is one of the funniest novels in the English canon. If you like the comedies of Trollope and Austen, Meredith’s masterpiece is a real treat. The genius of The Egoist is not only in exposing Sir Willoughby's faults, and Clara's mounting panic as she can't manoeuvre her way out of her engagement, but in its serious appraisal of the difficulties faced by Victorian women in their limited possibilities after childhood. Meredith was an enormous influence on the later modernists, such as Woolf, Joyce, and particularly Forster, but although critics more often mention The Ordeal of Richard Feveral as Meredith's keystone text The Egoist is the one to enjoy.