George Eliot and the Politics of National Inheritance
In this stimulating history of the ideas behind George Eliot's novels, Bernard Semmel explores Eliot's imaginative use of the theme of inheritance, as a metaphor for her political thinking. Through detailed analyses of Eliot's novels and other writings, and a study of the intellectual currents of the time, Semmel demonstrates how and why Eliot's views on inheritance provided central ideas for her fiction. Semmel uncovers Eliot's intent when she wrote of the obligations of inheritance both in the common meaning of the term, as in the transfer of goods and property from parents to children, and in the more metaphoric sense of the inheritance of both the benefits and burdens of the historical past, particularly those of the nation's culture and traditions. He believes Eliot's novels dwelt so insistently on the idea of inheritance in good part because she viewed herself as intellectually "disinherited," writing as she did at a time when much of England was being transformed from a traditional community to an alienating modern society, and when, moreover, she suffered from a painful estrangement from her family. In this thought-provoking study, Semmel dissects the politics of Eliot's novels, including Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda, Romola Felix Holt, and Adam Bede, and convincingly displays the relationship between Eliot's variations on the theme of inheritance and her acceptance of Britain's traditional policies of compromise and reform. All those interested in Victorian literature, history, and political thought will appreciate Semmel's George Eliot and the Politics of National Inheritance.
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Adam Bede admired advanced liberals Antigone argued Auguste Comte Beesly believed blood Burke century chap Charles Bray Christian classes Coleridge compromise Comte's Comtian Comtists Congreve cosmopolitan culture Daniel Deronda described deterministic disinherited Disraeli doctrinaire doctrine Dorothea duty earlier England English Eppie Essays Evangelical faith father Fedalma feeling Felix Holt Feuerbach fiction Frederic Harrison French G. H. Lewes George Eliot German Herbert Spencer Herder heritage Ibid idea ideology individual insisted intellectual Ivanhoe J. S. Mill Jewish Jews John Ladislaw later Lewes London Lydgate Maggie Marner Middlemarch Mirah modern moral Mordecai Morley myth national inheritance national tradition nineteenth-century noted novel opinions past philosophical politics of inheritance position positivism Positivist race radical reformers rejected religious revolution Riehl Romola Sara Hennell Savonarola Scott sense sentiment Silas Silva social socialist society Spanish Gypsy spirit sympathy T. S. Eliot Tancred tion Tory University Press utopian Victorian virtue writers wrote Zarca