Cover image for George Eliot
George Eliot
Nestor, Pauline.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire ; New York : Palgrave, [2002]

Physical Description:
vi, 186 pages ; 23 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PR4688 .N47 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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George Eliot was one of the great thinkers of her time, a figure central to the main currents of thought and belief in the nineteenth century. Yet when this distinguished public intellectual turned to fiction writing at the age of thirty-six, she regarded it not as a lesser pursuit, but as the distillation of all of her knowledge and ideas. For Eliot, fiction enabled the consideration of life 'in its highest complexity', and had the capacity not merely to elicit, but actually to create, moral sentiment by surprising readers into the recognition of realities other than their own.

In this new study, Pauline Nestor offers a challenging reassessment of Eliot's contribution to the critical debates, both of her age and of her own era. In particular, she examines the author's literary expolration of ethics, especially in relation to the negotiation of difference. Nestor argues compellingly that, through a reading of their sophisticated drama of otherness, Eliot's novels can be seen as freshly relevant to contemporary theoretical debates in feminism, moral philosophy, post-colonial studies and psychoanalysis.

Covering the writer's complete body of major fiction, this is an indispensable voume for anyone studying the work of one of the most important and influential novelists of the nineteenth century.

Author Notes

Pauline Nestor is Associate Professor in English at Monash University, Melbourne, Australia.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

This useful and incisive book does an excellent job of introducing Eliot to readers unfamiliar with her work and its context. In the introduction, Nestor (Monash Univ., Melbourne) presents the major intellectual currents with which Eliot was involved, and she raises her own concern by showing the 19th-century writer's significance to the 21st century. In the chapter "The Making of a Novelist," Nestor develops her central notion about Eliot's moral significance: the fierce realism Eliot espoused relates directly to the extension of human sympathies to those different from oneself, i.e., the Other. Nestor argues that such a moral and aesthetic program is in harmony with contemporary concerns about diversity. For Nestor, Eliot's key idea was realistic and sympathetic exploration of the nature of the other. Eight successive chapters deal with each of Eliot's major works, focusing on the development of her confrontation with otherness, from her early, halting attempt in Scenes of Clerical Life to the "widening psychology" of The Mill on the Floss and beyond. More than the usual introductory work, Nestor's book offers a compelling reading of Eliot from a contemporary perspective. Chapter notes include bibliographic references. Recommended for lower/upper-division undergraduates and graduate students. S. F. Klepetar St. Cloud State University

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vi
1 Introductionp. 1
2 The Making of a Novelistp. 18
3 'My first bit of art': Scenes of Clerical Lifep. 29
4 Self-regulation and the Limits of Subjectivity: Adam Bedep. 42
5 'A widening psychology': The Mill on the Flossp. 55
6 The Mystery of Otherness: Silas Marnerp. 73
7 Between Two Worlds: Romolap. 88
8 A Politics of Morality: Felix Holtp. 105
9 The 'difficult task of knowing another soul': Middlemarchp. 124
10 'The transmutation of the self': Daniel Derondap. 140
11 Conclusionp. 156
Notesp. 163
Indexp. 181