The Essays of “George Eliot” by George Eliot
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“The Essays of George Eliot” is a collection of essays written by the famous English novelist and poet, Mary Ann Evans, under the pseudonym “George Eliot”. The collection was first published in 1869 and includes essays on a variety of topics, including literature, art, philosophy, and religion. The essays offer insights into Eliot’s intellectual and literary interests, as well as her views on social and political issues of the time.
Mary Ann Evans was born in Warwickshire, England in 1819. She grew up in a family of religious dissenters, and received a rigorous education in literature, philosophy, and history. In her early twenties, she moved to London, where she became a writer and editor for various literary magazines. In 1859, she published her first novel, “Adam Bede”, under the pseudonym “George Eliot”. The novel was a critical and commercial success, and established Eliot as one of the leading writers of her time.
Over the course of her career, Eliot wrote several more novels, including “The Mill on the Floss” and “Middlemarch”, as well as numerous essays and poems. She was widely regarded as a master of psychological realism, and her novels explored complex themes such as morality, social class, and gender roles.
“The Essays of George Eliot” provides readers with a unique insight into Eliot’s intellectual and literary interests. The essays cover a wide range of topics, from literary criticism to philosophical musings on the nature of reality. In “The Natural History of German Life”, for example, Eliot explores the cultural and social differences between England and Germany, while in “The Influence of Rationalism”, she discusses the impact of rationalism on religion and society.
Eliot’s essays also reveal her interest in the visual arts. In “Silly Novels by Lady Novelists”, she criticizes the popular romance novels of her time for their lack of depth and artistic merit. In “The Modern Hep! Hep! Hep!”, she takes aim at the Victorian craze for Orientalism, arguing that it reflects a desire for superficial exoticism rather than a genuine interest in other cultures.
One of the most notable aspects of Eliot’s essays is her concern with social and political issues of the time. In “Woman in France: Madame de Sablé”, for example, she celebrates the achievements of a 17th-century French noblewoman who managed to maintain her independence and autonomy in a patriarchal society. In “Evangelical Teaching: Dr. Cumming”, she criticizes the narrow-minded and intolerant views of a popular Victorian preacher.
Overall, “The Essays of George Eliot” is an important work of literary and cultural criticism. It offers readers a glimpse into the mind of one of the most important writers of the Victorian era, and provides insights into her intellectual and philosophical interests. The essays also reveal Eliot’s passionate commitment to social justice and her willingness to engage with the pressing issues of her time. For anyone interested in the history of Victorian literature and culture, “The Essays of George Eliot” is an essential read.