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Adam Bede (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 24 Apr 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (24 April 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140436642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140436648
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 211,199 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


"Adam Bede" has taken its place among the actual experiences and endurances of my life. Charles Dickens"

About the Author

Mary Ann (Marian) Evans was born in 1819 in Warwickshire. Under the name of George Eliot, she wrote Scenes of Clerical Life, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Felix Holt, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, as well as numerous essays, articles and reviews. She died in 1880, only a few months after marrying J. W. Cross, an old friend and admirer, who became her first biographer.

Margaret Reynolds works on literature from the C18th to the present day, especially poetry, and especially in the Victorian period. Her The Sappho History (2003) traced the transmission of the works and images of the ancient Greek poet as they appear in the works of Mary Robinson, S.T. Coleridge, Alfred Tennyson, Baudelaire, Swinburne, H.D. and Virginia Woolf. Margaret Reynolds is the presenter of BBC Radio 4's 'Adventures in Poetry', now in its 11th series. She has a weekly column on classic books in the Saturday Times .

Inside This Book

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
George Eliot's "Adam Bede" is a delightful read and is a tale of simple country folk in an early nineteenth century rural community.

The main character is carpenter Adam Bede - a strong, righteous man who cares for his aging mother. He does have a weakness - he's in love with vain but beautiful Hetty Sorrel. Unfortunately for Adam, the young Hetty is deluded into thinking that the flirtatious attentions of Captain Donnithorne may lead to marriage.

It is not just a story about a love triangle featuring seduction, murder, and retribution. It is a leisurely novel featuring many interesting characters that include Adam's brother Seth Bede; Methodist preacher Dinah Morris; Hetty's uncle and aunt, the Poysers and their brood of children; Reverend Irwine, the local Anglican minister and teacher Bartle Massey.

At times, George Eliot diverts the reader from the main plot of the story to describe the activities of the locals in their day-to-day life. The author provides the reader with vivid descriptions of the people; their drinking and harvest parties and particularly the landscapes as the seasons unfold. Occasionally, the novel is difficult to follow when the author slips into the 19th century rural dialect but overall the book is an exceedingly good read.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By DB on 5 April 2010
Format: Paperback
After reading the book I thought I would look for a DVD. I remember trying to watch the BBC production of Adam Bede in the early 90's and turning off after a quarter of an hour of Adam's mother whingeing. I guess I should have persevered, for it had a handy cast - Susannah Harker (Dinah, I suppose) and Patsy Kensit, would you believe (Hetty I hope and imagine). But there's only a Region 1 version available and I can't find any evidence of a more recent adaptation. But perhaps that's not surprising - I can see how it would be a fiendishly difficult book to televise (still yet to film) while remaining even vaguely faithful to the text.

For it hardly rips along. By page 300 the only events had been Dinah turning down Seth, Adam and Seth's father dying and Arthur kissing Hetty, once. The plot sputters into action after that, though I'm not sure that the book improves at that stage, since the storyline is rather formulaic. And yet I thoroughly enjoyed it. It is a lovely book - a beautifully written, amusing, sympathetic (yet warts and all) pen picture of country life. Like Brueghel in words.

Read it like I did - slowly, a few pages at a time - and immerse yourself in a simpler time.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 120 reviews
67 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Goodness prevails 28 July 2003
By A.J. - Published on
Format: Paperback
Adam Bede, the titular hero of George Eliot's first novel, is of a character so sterling that one little anecdote serves to define his whole life and work ethic: He's a carpenter, and he had done some work for a lady whose father, an old squire named Donnithorne, suggested that she pay him less than the fee he requested. Adam insisted that he would rather take no money for the job, for to accept a reduced amount would be like admitting he overcharges for shoddy work. By standing on his principles, he won his full fee in the end and cemented his reputation as a businessman of honor and acumen, proving his fairness to both his customers and himself.
Thus he seems an unlikely match for Hetty Sorrel, the prettiest girl in the village of Hayslope. Vain, selfish, materialistic, hating her laborious farm chores, Hetty bears more than a passing resemblance to Flaubert's Madame Bovary. However, while Madame Bovary's unattainable dream world is inspired by her reading romances, Hetty "had never read a novel" so she can't "find a shape for her expectations" regarding love. Unable to foresee any possible consequences for her actions, she allows herself to be seduced by Arthur Donnithorne, the old squire's grandson, who stands to inherit the land on which most of the Hayslopers live.
Arthur is a radiant example of Eliot's mastery in complicated character creation. Acutely aware of his position in society, he has the kind of charisma with which he can talk to his tenants politely but with just the slightest hint of condescension and completely win their respect for his authority. In fact, he is so accustomed to receiving nothing but admiration for his apparent moral integrity that it comes as a genuine shock to him when Adam, a man he truly likes, reproaches him for his reckless behavior with Hetty, a girl both he and Adam truly love. And the tragic irony is that Hetty doesn't really deserve either of them.
Religion plays a curious role in the story. Adam's brother Seth is infatuated with a woman named Dinah Morris, a cousin's cousin to Hetty and a Methodist evangelistic preacher who was inspired by Wesley in the flesh. Her influence among the villagers comes to the attention of the Anglican Rev. Dauphin Irwine, the vicar of Hayslope, who visits her to try to figure out her game and concludes that she's essentially a good woman with a good heart. Indeed, she is the first one to sense that Hetty may be headed for troubled waters and earnestly offers her spiritual guidance, to which Hetty responds with distrust and irritation.
Most powerful of the novel's images is that of Hetty wandering through the darkness and dangers of the English countryside in desperate search of the departed Arthur, carrying with her a symbol of their tormented love, and oblivious to the goodness of Adam, whose only desire is to protect her from the disappointment, shame, and disgrace that result from her pitiful reliance on Arthur's ability to buy her pretty things. But Eliot is too fond of her hero to let him suffer for long when the tides of fate come crashing violently to their inevitable shores, and the ultimate product is a novel of great compassion for its characters.
34 of 34 people found the following review helpful
Relevant social commentary 14 Nov. 2009
By Joanne Marinelli - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Adam Bede is more volatile than Middlemarch, but also more powerful. It centers around the life of a master carpenter, Adam Bede, and the people in his village above and equal to his caste, and his conflicted love for a young woman who has also caught the attention of the young aristocrat who is the nominal authority within the community, with tragic consequences. It is not only worth the download, but equally deserves your focus and attention.
27 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Great Read 22 Sept. 2010
By Jill Whitman - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
I started reading George Elliot's works after initially reading "The Mill on the Floss". There are few writers that I enjoy reading as much. She makes me feel as though I am experiencing the emotions of her characters. I am swept away and have trouble putting her books down. I love the themes she chooses to write about. Her characters are believable and the works are always filled with choices and consequences of everyday people. She does a phenomenal job of weaving the web of the interactions of the characters and demonstrating how each person's actions have affected the others.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Classic tale of strength and weakness 29 July 2002
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
George Eliot weaves a simple story of love, suffering, and goodness. While the plot is hardly complex (boy loves girl, another boy gets girl, unhappiness abounds - also reused in Mill on the Floss), the manner in which Eliot develops her characters and their emotions and actions ring as true and resoundingly as a bell. It's so clear, so obvious, but also moving and textured. You feel Adam's absolute love for vain little Hetty, Dinah's calming grace, Arthur's good intentions, Lisbeth's fretting nature. Eliot draws you in with her honest observations of life in a country town, without the background becoming a dominant factor. The near idyllic life the characters lead is a healthy contrast to the town's emotional upheaval.
Adam is an upright, genuine character, and not as perfect as he seems. If his love for Hetty seems unfounded at times, it only serves to highlight how dangerous delusions can be. All the "sinners" are ultimately redeemed by truth - true love, true friends, true promises, and true acceptance. Religion plays a significant part in the novel, but don't let that deter you. It's so much more than that - Adam Bede is truly one of the few works that encompass a world of humanity between two covers.
AB reminded me of Tess of the D'Ubervilles a bit, but there is no villain here, just flawed, honest people in search of unattainable dreams. In the process of trying to get a bit of happiness, they stumble and bleed, but ultimately find something truly worth having. Bittersweetness is Eliot's trademark for good reason.
George Eliot's first full novel is obviously a bit less polished than her later works, but you see the wonderful command she has over language and expression. The book, the people, the story all come alive with her touch. A rare read that has something to say and says it beautifully.
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
A Great Classic! 4 Sept. 1999
By anna-joelle - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Highly recommended for those who loves classic literature. George Elliot beautifully captured the lives of the people in rural English country in the late 18th century and early 19th century. I guarantee you'll fall in love with all the 4 main characters ie. Adam Bede, Hetty Sorrel, Lord Arthur and Dinah Morris before you finish the book. The courting scenes involving Adam Bede and Dinah are both very romantic and honest. George Elliot had a great understanding of human nature which makes the story very believable although it's fiction. ADAM BEDE's a hero in my heart, and this book's a must read for all literature fans.
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