George Eliot: a biography

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9780002555746: George Eliot: a biography

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. 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.

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Review:

Frederick Karl's magisterial biography of George Eliot proves her to be one of the most fascinating and iconic individuals of her time. Karl, author of commanding biographies of Conrad, Faulkner, and Kafka, meticulously brings Eliot to life. He re-creates her world, London society, and intellectual thought, as well as the world of the gifted or fortunate. He shows how Eliot transformed herself, taking new names as her self developed and grew. With his discussion of Eliot's life, Karl portrays what life was was like for a woman during that time and identifies important women's issues.

Eliot, torn between her desire to conserve the past and her urge to change the limitations imposed by class and gender, proves to be a fascinating individual beckoning towards our twentieth-century sense of the modern. Karl's is an unforgettable portrait of a writer whose profound works are recognized today as literary masterpieces.

About 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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Frederick Karl
Published by HarperCollins (1995)
ISBN 10: 0002555743 ISBN 13: 9780002555746
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Frederick KARL
Published by HarperCollins (1995)
ISBN 10: 0002555743 ISBN 13: 9780002555746
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