As English lecturers, we often have to remind our students to move from emotional to critical readings of texts. I once had a student who had trouble discussing Dickens’s Great Expectations in our tutorials because she hated Pip so much. Despite working to develop a critical voice over the years, I certainly have emotional reading experiences and am pleased that after reading countless Victorian novels, they still make me laugh out loud or cry. The moment in Adam Bede that I find most affective is when Dinah comes to see Hetty in her prison cell and Hetty, after showing no emotion or real awareness of her circumstances, breaks down and embraces Dinah: Continue reading “Reflections on Adam Bede. Part II.”
1) Why do we retain the pseudonym when discussing George Eliot/Mary Anne (etc.) Evans but not when referring to other Victorian writers like Currer Bell/Charlotte Brontë?
2) Why is Eliot’s (supposedly unattractive) appearance mentioned so frequently in Eliot criticism?
Just a quick note to mention that even Melvyn Bragg is joining in on George Eliot month! This coming Thursday, January 28, Melvyn will be discussing Silas Marner: The Weaver of Raveloe (1861) with Rosemary Ashton, Dinah Birch, and Valentine Cunningham on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time. Be sure to listen in!
I have noticed an interesting affective moment that recurs again and again in George Eliot’s fiction. The typical scene involves the struggle of a man to resist his attraction to, and involvement with, a woman he knows he should keep his distance from. Then, despite his good intentions, he witnesses her tears and instantly loses his head in a passionate capitulation to his desire. Continue reading “He “kissed each of the two large tears”: Affect and Desire in Eliot’s fiction”
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit Dr. Williams’s library in London, where the Eliot-Lewes library is held. I was doing work on Philip Wakem’s hunch back and hoping to find some very exciting underlining in the books she read on the physiology of the spine. I’m not sure what I was imagining—maybe something like “spinal curvature!! fascinating.” Oh dear. Most likely I was looking for Eliot to guide me through the mass of medical literature I was quickly becoming mired in with no clear way of figuring out what was important. I was just too early on in my work to tell at that point. Continue reading “Spinal Curvature, Fascinating!”
I am reading Eliot’s Adam Bede for the first time since I read it in graduate school, in a class that focused on Victorian representations of masculinity and the male body. And it certainly is a novel that seems to revel in describing the body of its hero, Adam. Eliot’s narrator begins the novel in the Bede brothers’ workplace, recording the sonorous voice of one of the workmen: Continue reading “Reflections on Adam Bede. Part I.”
For the month of January, all of the posts here at the Floating Academy will be focused on George Eliot’s work, life, and critical afterlife. To get us started, here are a few links to comprehensive websites for all things Eliot related:
The Orlando project (University of Cambridge) brings together a wealth of information on British woman writers. Their Eliot page provides a range of materials from her letters, journalism and fiction to biographical information about her education, career and family life. (Subscription required)
The George Eliot page at the Victorian Web contains a range of articles on her life and work, including a basic bibliography of important works of Eliot criticism.
The BBC’s Coventry division website has an interesting photographic tour of George Eliot’s life in Warwickshire. If you click on the “Images” link, you’ll find photographs of Eliot’s various homes and schools and a few portraits.