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George Eliot and the Conflict of Interpretations: A Reading of the Novels

Overview

Two versions of George Eliot, both very influential, have emerged from the study of her life and work. One is the radical Victorian thinker, formidably learned in a whole range of intellectual disciplines, to which she made major contributions during her early years in London. The other is the reclusive novelist, enigmatic, sybilline, celebrating through her fiction the communal values which were being eroded in the modern world. This study brings the two together, and by placing her within the crisis of belief ...
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Overview

Two versions of George Eliot, both very influential, have emerged from the study of her life and work. One is the radical Victorian thinker, formidably learned in a whole range of intellectual disciplines, to which she made major contributions during her early years in London. The other is the reclusive novelist, enigmatic, sybilline, celebrating through her fiction the communal values which were being eroded in the modern world. This study brings the two together, and by placing her within the crisis of belief and value acted out in the mid-nineteenth century, it reveals the unity of her whole career. George Eliot saw this crisis as one of interpretation, and the intensity of her writing comes from the vivid, almost apocalyptic, awareness that traditional modes of interpreting the world were breaking down irrevocably. This study shows how, in response to this, she redefined the nature of Victorian fiction--its presentation of character, the role of the narrator, the structure of narrative, the depiction of social and historical change. Each of her novels becomes an experiment which tests to the point of destruction a variety of Victorian myths, orthodoxies and ideologies, as it moves towards its climax--the inevitable contradiction which disconfirms all theories of life. George Eliot and the conflict of interpretations articulates the tension, novel by novel, between the writer's suspicion of orthodox creeds and her urgent need to restore values in a sceptical age. Each attempt to break through the conflict of interpretations acknowledges the urgency of the need and the provisional nature of any resolution.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Meticulously researched and cogently argued, George Eliot and the Conflict of Interpretations is not only the most sophisticated reading of and arguably the best introduction to George Eliot's novels to date, but also one of the most distinguished recent contributions to the intellectual history of the Victorian period. Carroll's wide-ranging book will be essential reading not only for all students of Eliot's novels, but for the growing number of cultural historians concerned with the interplay of intellectual contexts and literature in the nineteenth century.' Anglia
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521024372
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2006
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Pages: 1
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.79 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface
Introduction: a working hypothesis 1
1 Scenes of Clerical Life: familiar types and symbols 38
2 Adam Bede: pastoral theodicies 73
3 The Mill on the Floss: growing up in St Ogg's 106
4 Silas Marner: rustic hermeneutics 140
5 Romola: duplicity, doubleness, and sacred rebellion 167
6 Felix Holt: commentaries on the apocalypse 201
7 Middlemarch: empiricist fables 234
8 Daniel Deronda: coercive types 273
Conclusion 313
Notes 316
Index 331
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