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Adam Bede (Wordsworth Classics) [Paperback]

George Eliot
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 April 1997 Wordsworth Classics

This Wordsworth Edition includes an exclusive Introduction and Notes by Doreen Roberts, Rutherford College, University of Kent at Canterbury.

<p align="center"> 'Examine your words well, and you will find that even when you have no motive to be false, it is a very hard thing to say the exact truth, even about your immediate feelings.'

Adam Bede (1859), George Eliot's first full-length novel, marked the emergence of an artist to rank with Scott and Dickens. Set in the English Midlands of farmers and village craftsmen at the turn of the eighteenth century, the book relates a story of seduction issuing in 'the inward suffering which is the worst form of Nemesis'. But it is also a rich and pioneering record - drawing on intimate knowledge and affectionate memory - of a rural world that we have lost.

The movement of the narration between social realism and reflection on its own processes, the exploration of motives, and the constant authorial presence all bespeak an art that strives to connect the fictional with the actual.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 528 pages
  • Publisher: Wordsworth Editions Ltd; New Ed edition (1 April 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1853261920
  • ISBN-13: 978-1853261923
  • Product Dimensions: 3 x 12.3 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 5,963 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mary Ann (Marian) Evans was born in 1819 in Warwickshire. She attended schools in Nuneaton and Coventry, coming under the influence of evangelical teachers and clergymen. In 1836 her mother died and Marian became her father's housekeeper, educating herself in her spare time. In 1841 she moved to Coventry, and met Charles and Caroline Bray, local progressive intellectuals. Through them she was commissioned to translate Strauss's Life of Jesus and met the radical publisher John Chapman, who, when he purchased the Westminster Review in 1851, made her his managing editor.

Having lost her Christian faith and thereby alienated her family, she moved to London and met Herbert Spencer (whom she nearly married, only he found her too 'morbidly intellectual') and the versatile man-of-letters George Henry Lewes. Lewes was separated from his wife, but with no possibility of divorce. In 1854 he and Marian decided to live together, and did so until Lewes's death in 1878. It was he who encouraged her to turn from philosophy and journalism to fiction, and during those years, 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.

George Eliot died in 1880, only a few months after marrying J. W. Cross, an old friend and admirer, who became her first biographer. She was buried beside Lewes at Highgate. George Eliot combined a formidable intelligence with imaginative sympathy and acute powers of observation, and became one of the greatest and most influential of English novelists. Her choice of material widened the horizons of the novel and her psychological insights radically influenced the novelist's approach to characterization. Middlemarch, considered by most to be her masterpiece, was said by Virginia Woolf to be 'one of the few English novels written for grown-up people'.

Product Description


The Clarendon edition of Adam Bede (1859) is the first critical edition of the work that established George Eliot's reputation. Its extensive textual apparatus lists manuscript and first edition variants from the copy-text, which is the corrected eighth edition of 1861 — her last revision of the book. The introduction locates the genesis of the novel in Eliot's family history, her travels, and her reading of literature and biography, and describes the composition process, including her debate with the publisher John Blackwood about the suitability of the subject-matter for a family audience, as both author and publisher anticipated its appearing initially in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine. Using Blackwood's publication ledgers, it also establishes the details of the eleven complete or nearly complete resettings of the novel in Eliot's lifetime; and examines the author's revisions to a manuscript that is popularly, but erroneously, thought to have been little altered, giving detailed attention to the dialect in the context of more than 900 variants between manuscript and first edition.

Superb scholarly edition of Eliot's (Choice) --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Dr Valentine Cunningham is Professor of English, Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He is author of British Writers of the Thirties (OUP).

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than a classic - a near perfect book 25 Sep 2009
By bookelephant TOP 1000 REVIEWER
This is a lovely, beautifully crafted book. George Eliot may (as the negative reviewer says) have rejected her low church upbringing. But her remaining affection for its principles and for the people of her childhood (Adam is modelled on her father and the Poyser's farm is a place where she lived as a child) shine through and create what I find to be her warmest and most enagaging book. It is not a book to be taken at a rush - its pace is the pace of the Victorian countryside. Adopting that pace, like the stranger who is introduced with us to Dinah at the preaching, one can see the countryside and the people as clearly as if they were in front of us, and the sense of relationship between all the characters then compels our interest throughout. It also offers from the mouth of Mrs Poyser some of the most enjoyable bon mots in fiction - though some of them (for example "folks mmust put up with their kin, as they put up with their own noses") don't necessarily reflect the modern world! Finally it is ultimately a book about kindness and the light which kindness shines around it, and reminds us that "when death, the great reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity". I always think when I read this, how much more pleasant a place the world would be if we all carried this saying with us every day.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rural tragedy 3 Dec 2010
By Roman Clodia TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
If you've read Middlemarch and/or Daniel Deronda, this is a very different George Eliot. More akin to The Mill on the Floss, it tells a story of rural tragedy which might have influenced Hardy, particularly in Tess.

Taking in Eliot's concerns about class, gender and education, this is a moving book that both depicts a lost world and yet involves subjects which still concern us today: a girl's choice between the exciting and staid lover, and the consequences of unthinking sex.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A gripping tale of a honourable life 13 Jan 2000
By A Customer
Why hasn't anyone written a review for this book? Is it because it's a classic, and therefore one cannot praise it more? I thought it was wonderful. The story of the honest, upright and faithful Adam Bede and his quiet life beautifully unfolds, with deliciously scripted detail. One of the most remarkable things about the book is the that the delightful description does not prevent tension and drama from unfolding, but adds to the suspense of the various situations Adam finds himself in.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not Eliot's best, but its still Eliot... 8 Dec 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Adam Bede is the third book by George Eliot I have read, and I am big fan of her work. I enjoyed this, but it is her first length novel and it shows. I read Mill on the Floss and Middlemarch previously and absolutely loved them, both are truly great literature. It is really an unfair comparison, but Adam Bede doesn't live up to the highest standard set up in those books.

Saying that, there was much here to enjoy. The plot was admittedly slow to get going, very slow in fact and I came close to putting the book down a couple of times, but I am so glad I didn't. This seems to be a feature of Eliot's work, but the pay off for persisting is great. Once the plot kicked in it was gripping, and a brave direction to take given the time it was written. Then there are the characters. At first I found Adam himself a bit insipid and goody-goody, but by the end he was a much better rounded out character and I found myself more drawn to him. Dinah, Hetty, the Poysers, Mr Irwine, Bartle Massey - the list of interesting and very human characters goes on. The two I found myself most drawn to, though, were Seth and Arthur. I found Seth more appealing than his brother Adam - he just seemed more composed, dignified and charitable, despite being very put upon. Arthur is the scoundrel of the book and yet I really liked him. Eliot described his thoughts and feelings as if she had climbed inside his head, and hence all of his actions seemed so understandable, no matter how regrettable.

The book is a charming depiction of a rural way of life we have now lost forever, a time when life was simpler and slower, yet the nature of human beings means it was no less dramatic. There are beautiful descriptions of farm and parish life. At times this gets a bit repetitive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wordworth editions of George Eliot's works 10 Feb 2011
"Adam Bede", "The Mill on the Floss" and "Silas Marner" in these very cheap PB editions are beautifully produced in clear print: excellent value. I would urge those new to George Eliot to read with patience: these novels take a long time to get going but gradually and steadily increase pace. The introductions are excellent too: but I would advise readers to read the introductions after the novels! DSJP
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very moving........... 6 Dec 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is the story of two brothers Adam and Seth Bede but really more about the former than the latter.

Adam and Seth Bede are both carpenters and Adam is a true master of his trade and can turn his hand to anything. He is loved by all for his honesty, lack of guile and for his hard work.

Adam falls in love with an empty headed but pretty young girl called Hetty who is the niece of a local Farmer. She however has fallen in love with the grandson of the local Squire.
Things take their course and eventually Adam catches them together and forces Arthur the young Squire to give her up, which he does but it is too late for poor Hetty. She eventually accepts Adam's hand in marriage but days before they are to be married she disappears. I won't say too much here because it would be a spoiler.

Also in their lives is a young Methodist preacher by the name of Dinah. Seth is in love with her but his love is not reciprocated so he settles for her just being his friend.

There is a lot of the 'vernacular' used in the book particularly by Seth and Adam's Mother which is a bit difficult to work out but persist dear reader and you will work it out.

This is George Eliot's first book and is every bit as good as 'her' later works if not better in some cases.

Really it is a story of unrequited love, death, dishonour and a young girl who has had her head turned to her ultimate destruction.

A brilliant read and very highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Published 17 hours ago by j g hames
4.0 out of 5 stars Paul's Adam Bede review
A great book by GE, in the mold of Dickens or Hardy. Loved the relationship between the brothers and the love interests. It all ended up well in the end after tragic events.
Published 21 days ago by alquin
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourites
If you are fond of Victorian novels with tragedy, drama and a love story then Adam Bede is for you. It is a wonderful read and I wanted to start it all over again as soon as I had... Read more
Published 1 month ago by avidreader
4.0 out of 5 stars A country story
Brilliantly written, with beautiful descriptions of English country life at the time. The story is maybe predictable, but only from a modern viewpoint. Read more
Published 4 months ago by DIANE M ADAM
5.0 out of 5 stars brilliant
One of the best books i have ever read. George Eliot is one of the greatest 19th century writers and her prose and insight make this a joy to read
Published 4 months ago by Jim..
5.0 out of 5 stars Adam Bede
I enjoyed this book as I am fascinated by authors from 18th and 19th century, giving an insight into the way of life then.
Published 4 months ago by leslie baker
4.0 out of 5 stars Life in rural 19th england
It is long on setting the scene. So reflects the ponderous pace of rural life. Eliot's plots are linked to a small group of characters.
Published 4 months ago by D.C.Butterfield
3.0 out of 5 stars Small yawn.
Not one of my favourites so not a particularly good choice even though I do enjoy George Eliot . That's all
Published 7 months ago by Len Idle
3.0 out of 5 stars Adam Bede
Not the best novel by George Elliot, it is very slow moving and certainly could do with a bit more pace
Published 8 months ago by Ann Bartlett
4.0 out of 5 stars A neglected classic?

Having been a George Eliot fan for many years ('Middlemarch' is my favourite novel of all time) I have been far too long getting round to reading 'Adam... Read more
Published 10 months ago by David Williams
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