The transferred life of George Eliot : the biography of a novelist


The transferred life of George Eliot : the biography of a novelist

Philip Davis

Oxford University Press, 2018, c2017

  • : pbk

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"First published 2017. First published in paperback 2018"--T.p. verso

Includes bibliographical references (p. 405-406) and index



Reading George Eliot's work was described by one Victorian critic as like the feeling of entering the confessional in which the novelist sees and hears all the secrets of human psychology-'that roar which lies on the other side of silence'. This new biography of George Eliot goes beyond the much-told story of her life. It gives an account of what it means to become a novelist, and to think like a novelist: in particular a realist novelist for whom art exists not for art's sake but in the exploration and service of human life. It shows the formation and the workings of George Eliot's mind as it plays into her creation of some of the greatest novels of the Victorian era. When at the age of 37 Marian Evans became George Eliot, this change followed long mental preparation and personal suffering. During this time she related her power of intelligence to her capacity for feeling: discovering that her thinking and her art had to combine both. That was the great ambition of her novels-not to be mere pastimes or fictions but experiments in life and helps in living, through the deepest account of human complexity available. Philip Davis's illuminating new biography will enable you both to see through George Eliot's eyes and to feel what it is like to be seen by her, in the imaginative involvement of her readers with her characters.


Introduction1: Family Likenesses, 1819-422: The Valley of Humiliation: The Single Woman, 1840-513: Three Translations4: The Two Loves of 1852: 1. Herbert Spencer5: The Two Loves of 1852: 2. George Henry Lewes6: 'The first time' in the 'new era': Scenes of Clerical Life, 1856-77: Adam Bede: 'The Other Side of the Commonplace', 1857-98: The Mill on the Floss: 'My problems are purely psychical', 1859-60: Psychology and the Levels of Thought9: 'Great Facts Have Struggled to Find a Voice': The Toll of the 1860s10: Middlemarch: Realism and Thoughtworld, 1869-7111: Daniel Deronda: The Great Transmitter and the Last Experiment, 1873-6NotesSelect BibliographyIndex

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