George Eliot /

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Main Author: Ermarth, Elizabeth Deeds, 1939-
Format: Book
Published:Boston : Twayne, c1985.
Series:Twayne's English authors series ; TEAS 414
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Review by Choice Review

This survey of Eliot's life and work is a model of what such books ought to be: concise and yet thorough; accessible to readers encountering Eliot for the first time and yet challenging for those already familiar with her work. After a chapter on Eliot's life, Ermarth discusses two philosophers whom she regards as the two main intellectual influences on Eliot's fiction and essays: Feuerbach and Spinoza. The remainder of the book treats all of Eliot's fiction, integrating considerations of theme, form, and social history in a wholly satisfying manner. The author continually reminds us of the philosophical underpinnings of Eliot's art while showing precisely how this intellectual base results in aesthetic decisions about narrative voice, plot, characterization, etc. Ermarth manages all this while suggesting how her reading of Eliot removes some of the problems faced by earlier critics. Perhaps inevitably, in a work this short, disagreements about emphases will arise: there is no mention of Wordsworth's influence, for example. Nevertheless, it is difficult to think of a better place to begin or to renew one's study of George Eliot than with this book. Indexed, with an excellent annotated bibliography. Highly recommended for all academic libraries where Eliot is likely to be studied. Readership: upper-division undergraduates and above.-M. Minor, Westmar College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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