Review by Choice Review
The year 2019 will mark the bicentennial of the birth of George Eliot (i.e., Mary Ann Evans). With this book, Davis (Univ. of Liverpool, UK) gets a two-year head start on commemorating Eliot's 200th birthday. Organized into 11 chronological chapters, this volume provides a comprehensive discussion of the writer's personal life and work and of the interrelationship of those two spheres. The strength of Davis's superbly written work of "the great transmitter," as he calls her, lies is in the readings of the fiction and discussion of the impact of George Lewes's work on Eliot. There are lacunae: no discussion of Eliot's late projected Napoleonic war novel, only perfunctory attention to the poetry and the long narrative poem The Spanish Gypsy, insufficient attention to her prose essays, and no mention of her early reading of Josephus and its impact on her. Her relationship with Herbert Spencer is given detailed treatment, but there is little speculation on why she and Lewes did not marry (a contrast to Nancy Henry's The Life of George Eliot (CH, Oct'12, 50-0737). Still, Davis is a very fine critic, and this is an excellent, stimulating biography. The book includes ample black-and-white illustrations, 16 color plates, and a thorough index. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. --William Baker, Northern Illinois University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
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