Complete Works of George Eliot Text, Summary, Motifs and Notes (Annotated)

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George Eliot was an English novelist, poet, journalist, as well as a translator. Her real name was Mary Ann Evans but she used a male pen name, as female authors were believed to be writing only lighthearted novels in those days and she wanted to be taken seriously as well as break that stereotype. She authored seven novels, known for their realism and psychological insight. Her books were mainly appreciated for their descriptions of rural society, and she believed that there was much interest and importance in the mundane details of ordinary country lives. She is best remembered for ‘Middlemarch’, which was not just her masterpiece, but also one of the greatest novels in the history of English fiction. She worked as a translator as well, which exposed her to various German religious, social and philosophical texts, elements of which shown up in her fiction. She was not religious, but she held the belief that religious beliefs and tradition maintained a social order and morality. Eliot has been placed by literary critic Harold Bloom as one of the greatest writers of the West. Her books have also been adapted into various films and television programs.
Childhood & Early Life
    George Eliot was born on 22 November 1819, Warwickshire, England. She was the second child of an estate manager Robert Evans and his second wife Christiana.
    She studied together with her sister at several boarding schools. It developed a religious and self-repressive character in her, which dominated her up to the age of 20.
    After her mother’s death and her brother’s marriage a few years later, she and her father moved to a house near Coventry. Shortly after, she started questioning her religious faith, which led to her father refusing to live with her, which forced her to go and live with her brother. Later, her brother and her friends arranged reconciliation, and she respectfully attended church till her father’s death in 1849.
    Caring for her invalid father gave her satisfaction, but his death left her with a small income and no duties. After his funeral, she went to Switzerland and lived there for some time with her friends before returning to England to resume her career.
    After her return to London in 1850, George Eliot wanted to become a writer. She joined ‘The Westminster Review’, a left wing journal in 1851. Though the official editor was John Chapman, it was Eliot who contributed to most of the work.
    Her first complete novel ‘Adam Bede’ was published in 1859. Not only was it an instant success, but it also triggered response in the readers as they wanted to know who this George Eliot was, who possessed such a great intellect. Someone even pretended to be the author, which forced the real George Eliot, Mary Ann Evans, to come forward.
    A year later, she wrote ‘The Mill on the Floss’, which was published in three volumes. The story mainly is about her estrangement from her brother Isaac.
    She also wrote some of her best essays for ‘The Westminster’ as well as a few stories for ‘Blackwoods Magazine’.
    George Eliot's greatest work ‘Middlemarch’ was started in 1869 and completed in 1871. It was first published in eight monthly installments in ‘Blackwood’s Magazine’. It is for this novel that she is remembered as the ‘The Victorian Sage’, which definitely was a remarkable achievement for a woman in nineteenth century Britain.

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