George Eliot, author of "Middlemarch", Adam Bede", "Silas Marner", "Felix Holt" and "Mill on the Floss" was the greatest literary heroine of the 19th century. At the peak of her career she was one of the three most famous women in Victorian England. This book draws upon Eliot's previously unpublished letters to create a revised portrait of her both as a woman and as an artist. The author examines the Victorian contradictions she faced as an intellect, a sensitive individual and a plain woman, rejecting the view of previous biographers that she depended on men. Rather, he sees each of her unusual relationships - with Charles Bray, John Chapman, Herbert Spencer and finally with the married Lewes - as a form of absorption of their place in the masculine world that was denied to her directly.
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George Eliot, the author of 'Middlemarch, Adam Bede, Silas Marner, Felix Holt, The Mill on the Floss' and 'Daniel Deronda', was the greatest literary heroine of the nineteenth century, and has remained so until our own day. At the peak of her career she was, with Florence Nightingale and the Queen herself, one of the three most famous women in Victorian England.
Frederick Karl's magnificent new biography draws upon previously unpublished letters, from Eliot herself and from her circle, to create a significantly revised portrait of her both as a woman and as an artist. Eliot revelled in contradiction, paradox and irony, and behind the famous public face was her abiding secret self. She played out her fears and then shadowed them throughout her fiction, transforming herself from a country girl into a figure who made all knowledge her domain. This biography, five years in the making, is an unforgettable portrait of one of the most remarkable writers of modern times.
"George Eliot was born into Jane Austen's England and died in Thomas Hardy's, and this massive, serious and ambitious biography explores not just her work and thought but the intellectual development of the nation in the mid 19th century … This is an immensely impressive and scholarly work whose picture of Eliot and of Victorian England exerts a powerful hold on the imagination."
JACKIE WULLSCHLAGER, 'Financial Times'
"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, of course, but also the distinctiveness of her thwarted, striated and passionate nature."
PETER ACKROYD, 'The Times'
"A monumental new biography … [Karl] succeeds ably in showing how Eliot's fiction reflected the turmoil that lay just beneath the placid surface of the Victorian era."
CHRISTOPHER LEHMANN-HAUPT, 'New York Times'
"Likely to be the standard biography for a long time."
STANLEY WEINTRAUB, 'Wall Street Journal'
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