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The Waning George Eliot

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 October 2008

Nina Auerbach
University of Pennsylvania


Taken together, the four books under review here make me feel, not too comfortably, like a character in Middlemarch: in the aggregate, recent work on George Eliot is so slight that it evokes books unwritten, mighty tasks not only unfinished, but unbegun. The comparative modesty of even excellent work like Rosemarie Bodenheimer's, the sense that criticism is returning, in a smaller compass with more scrupulous vision, to ground already broken, is symptomatic of a void in our generation's imagination. An adequate appraisal of George Eliot needs an ambition as encompassing as George Eliot's own, but we seem to have directed our intensity to smaller, slyer writers.

Review Essays
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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Bodenheimer, Rosemarie. The Real Life of Mary Ann Evans: George Eliot, Her Letters and Fiction. Ithaca and London: Cornell UP, 1994.Google Scholar
Johnstone, Peggy Fitzhugh. The Transformation of Rage: Mourning and Creativity in George Eliot's Fiction. New York and London: New York UP, 1994.Google Scholar
Karl, Frederick R.George Eliot, Voice of a Century: A Biography. New York and London: Norton, 1995.Google Scholar
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