George Eliot

Overview

Karl shows how Eliot's break from respectable womanhood by running off with the married George Henry Lewes allowed her to begin her career as the major British novelist of the nineteenth century. Often, she drew upon her own life to create her plots and characters. She set several of her masterworks - Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Felix Holt, and Middlemarch - in the England of the past and her youth to show a complex portrait of society and character - one that captures us today with its moral ...

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Overview

Karl shows how Eliot's break from respectable womanhood by running off with the married George Henry Lewes allowed her to begin her career as the major British novelist of the nineteenth century. Often, she drew upon her own life to create her plots and characters. She set several of her masterworks - Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Felix Holt, and Middlemarch - in the England of the past and her youth to show a complex portrait of society and character - one that captures us today with its moral dilemmas and psychological shrewdness.
Frederick R. Karl's magisterial biography of George Eliot proves her to be one of the most fascinating and iconic individuals of her time. Born in 1819 as Mary Anne Evans, she grew up near rural Coventry when the pastoral life was being destroyed by the rapid rise of industrialism. Her father, Robert Evans, took care of an estate, where the family lived. Eliot, his youngest child, absorbed the world around her, its beauty and its delicate sense of stability, which was about to be thoroughly disrupted. Eliot thrived on learning while she stayed home, taking care of her aging father. Upon his death, she began her long process of emergence and change. Her unusual intelligence and literary capacity brought her to the attention of John Chapman, who enlisted her to work on the intellectual Westminster Review in London. While there she met some of the leading thinkers of her era, including Herbert Spencer. Karl focuses on her relationships with these men in a way earlier biographers have been unable, using many letters and documents previously unavailable.

George Eliot was one of the most fascinating individuals of her time. Born Mary Anne Evans, Eliot proved her intellectual prowess through her editing and writing for the Westminster Review, and drew upon her own life to create her plots and characters--Adam Bede, Silas Marner and Felix Holt. Her vibrant works are recognized as literary masterpieces today. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A comprehensive biography of Mary Anne Evans, who wrote under the pen name George Eliot. (Oct.)
Peter Ackroyd
This is a weighty and authoritative biography which takes account of the latest available scholarship... It gives more than adequate representation of the moral and intellectual distinction which George Eliot carried with her everywhere — the distinction of her work, up close, but also the distinctiveness of her thwarted, striated, and passionate nature. [London] Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393315219
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 5/1/1990
  • Pages: 748
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.30 (h) x 1.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Frederick R. Karl is the author of William Faulkner: American Writer. He is a professor at New York University.

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