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Daniel Deronda By George Eliot
eBook (ePub): $1.50
Published by Blackwood in 1876, Daniel Deronda was Eliot’s last novel and, in some respects at least, her most divisive as far as critics are concerned. The plot traverses two strands with the... More > eponymous Deronda on one side and Gwendolen Harleth on the other. Allowing the two characters to meet at the start of the novel, Eliot uses flashbacks and current plot developments to explore their characters and contrast their fortunes. Daniel Deronda is noted for its examination of Jewish faith and society, told through Deronda’s discovered past and his increasing involvement as the plot progresses. This is contrasted with the immoral nature of Gwendolin’s upper class society which, for the most part, is found wanting.< Less
Adam Bede By George Eliot
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Originally published in 1859, Adam Bede is a novel of rural realism set at the close of the eighteenth century. The plot concerns a love triangle hinging upon Hetty Sorrel who is pretty yet vain and... More > essentially self-centred. The other corners are represented by the local carpenter Adam Bede and the young squire Arthur Donnithorne. While Adam seeks to court his beloved, Arthur takes the direct route and seduces her only to subsequently leave her. Unfortunately, after Hetty agrees to marry Adam, she finds out that she is pregnant with Arthur's child. From there, matters escalate. Adam Bede is notable for its sense of realism. The setting is no rural idyll and the principle characters do not wonder around philosophising. The language is naturally spoken, which can be difficult but is entirely in keeping with the reality of rural England at the turn of the nineteenth century.< Less
Felix Holt - The Radical By George Eliot
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Published in 1866 by Blackwood, Felix Holt, the Radical, presents a nostalgic view of provincial England around the time of the 1832 Reform Act. The eponymous Holt is, as the title suggests, an... More > aspiring radical politician, riding the popular support for the reform bill. The plot revolves around a love triangle with Holt on one side, his fellow radical Harold Transome on the other and Esther Lyon, the step-daughter of a local dissenting minister in the middle. True to her realist leanings, Eliot concerns herself not with the political aspects of the Reform Bill but with the social change it brings. The novel marked a return to her Midlands setting following the less than successful Romala. It also saw her return to Backwoods as a publisher.< Less
Impressions of Theophrastus Such By George Eliot
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First published in 1878, Impressions of Theophrastus Such was Eliot’s last published work and is an essentially plotless work of fiction that concentrates on character examination through a... More > series of ‘essays’ narrated for the most part by the eponymous Such. However, the composition is merely structural and allows Eliot to explore themes that are of personal importance. Central to these themes is the avoidance of vice in many forms and an effort to lead a virtuous life through such means. By its very nature, the book is not that reader friendly. However, for those seeking an understanding of Eliot’s nature, it is essential.< Less
Middlemarch By George Eliot
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First published in 1972 in serial form by Blackwoods, Middlemarch was printed as a book in 1874. Set in and around the eponymous fictional town which is accepted to be based on Coventry, the novel... More > traces the lives of its characters while providing a commentary on wider political and social events centred on the 1832 Reform Act. Two pivotal characters dominate the novel. On one side is Dorothea Brooke who mistakenly marries the older Edward Casaubon and on the other is Will Ladislaw, Casaubon’s nephew and in some respects his antithesis. Around these pivots are a host of other major and minor characters that Eliot uses to explore her themes. Middlemarch has been widely accepted as the greatest realist novel in the English language and some, including Virginia Woolf and Martin Amis, have gone further. Given the many underlying themes, it is also a prime choice for literature courses.< Less
Romola By George Eliot
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First published in serial form through the Cornhill Magazine in 1862, Romola is a historical novel set in Florence amidst the turmoil of the Renaissance. The plot centres on the fortunes of Tito... More > Melema, a Greek-Italian scholar who yearns for the eponymous Romola but instead finds himself married to Tessa in a mock ceremony. The lives of this romantic triangle are buffeted by events in Florence, notably the fervour surrounding Savoranola, the charismatic and pious preacher whose sermons against the Church doomed himself and his followers. While Romola was less well received than previous novels, Eliot herself thought it her best work. She spent eighteen months researching the background and laboured intensely to create the necessary detail. Subsequently, critics have noted the craft and control with which Eliot built the plot and Romola is considered by some to be her best work.< Less
The Lifted Veil By George Eliot
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First published in 1858, The Lifted Veil can only be described as an anomaly in Eliot’s canon. A short novella, it sits firmly in the horror genre and is unique for Eliot being written in the... More > first person. The narrator, Latimer, believes he has the ability to see into the future and read other people’s thoughts. He finds himself attracted to Bertha, his brother’s fiancé, for the simple reason that he cannot discern her thoughts and motivations. When the brother dies, Latimer marries Bertha, only to discover that she is hardly innocent.< Less
Silus Marner By George Eliot
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First published in 1861, Silas Marner – The Weaver of Raveloe – follows the decline and subsequent rise of the eponymous character. Cast out of his community for a crime he didn’t... More > commit, he establishes himself in a small village and tries to live a secluded life. The fates don’t allow it and he finds his hoarded wealth robbed away. However, through his kindness in caring for Eppie, an orphaned child, he earns his place in the community. Sitting firmly within Eliot’s realist oeuvre, Silas Marner also presents an unfamiliar route to happiness that is not centred on wealth or success but on care and consideration. Marner’s natural inclination to hoard his wealth doesn’t pay off, but his devotion towards Eppie leads him not just to happiness, but also, by the close, to wealth and security.< Less
Scenes of Clerical Life By George Eliot
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First published in serial form by Blackwood’s Magazine in 1857 and in book form by the same publisher a year later, Scenes of a Clerical Life was Eliot’s first work to see print and the... More > first in which she used her famous pseudonym. The novel is composed of three separate novellas covering the lives of three religious men in an around the fictitious town of Milby. Rather than being a tract about religious belief, the stories are more concerned with the earthly experiences of the men and how their interactions with everyday life come to influence their attitudes to God. Mistakenly taken for a male author – understandably given the pseudonym – the novel gained a mixed reaction, notably there were complaints from certain clergymen who thought – not without reason – that characters in the book were based on them. Subsequently, it’s been noted not just for its realism, but also its incidental comments on religious practice and belief.< Less
The Mill On the Floss By George Eliot
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First published in 1860, The Mill on the Floss centres on the relationship and experiences of siblings Maggie and Tom Tulliver as they grow through puberty and into adulthood. Their relationship is... More > tested by Maggie’s attraction to Philip Wakem and subsequently Stephen Guest, the latter engaged to Maggie’s cousin Lucy Deane. How the relationship between brother and sister and how it survives, is the focus of the novel. Thematically, The Mill on the Floss is more about the ability of individuals to control their surroundings and whether they are able to attain their desires when the currents and eddies of society are raging about them. Such imagery is brought to the fore in the climax.< Less