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George Eliot The Last Victorian Unknown Binding – 1998


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Product details

  • Unknown Binding
  • Publisher: Fourth Estate; First Edition edition (1998)
  • ASIN: B0035WC1MK
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

24 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 12 July 1999
Format: Paperback
I thoroughly enjoyed reading George Eliot the last Victorian by Kathryn Hughes which is a fascinating account of the scandalous life led by Eliot who turned her back on Victorian society in order to live life as she chose. When reading the biography it is hard to remember that Kathryn Hughes has not actually met George Eliot since she appears to know her so well and write affectionately about her as one might a close friend. This book not only describes the life, loves and works of George Eliot but also paints a vivid picture of Victorian literary circles. I feel I now have a much better understanding of the obstacles that Eliot had to overcome in order to write and therefore can appreciate her works all the more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By booksetc on 28 July 2010
Format: Paperback
Scholarly but very readable. I knew nothing about George Eliot other than that she shocked Victorian society by living with a married man, George Henry Lewes. (In fact, Lewes's wife never begrudged this relationship, as she had several children by her own lover ... and George Eliot supported the whole brood).
As ever, Kathryn Hughes brings her subject alive. Fascinating that George Eliot, that literary giant, was so emotionally needy and bu the end of this biography you feel you have known her for many years. Didn't enjoy it as much as Hughes's biography of Mrs Beeton, but that's only because Mrs Beeton was such a cracking good story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By autodidact on 23 Oct. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I admit to a certain amount of rumination in choosing between four and five stars for this biography. But perhaps it's better to describe the book. It is a useful biography of Mary Ann Evans from childhood to her long-term unofficial marriage to George Lewes and her final short-lived marriage to John Cross. The story of how she first made her way into the literary avant-garde and her first tentative pieces of journalism is well-told.

Each of the major novels is analysed. The poetry gets short shrift, probably rightly. Kathryn Hughes brings out the major contradiction from the novels that all the George Eliot heroines, unlike the author, end up settling for dutiful work in relative obscurity. Hughes is also right that the Eliot heroes, from Adam Bede to Daniel Deronda, have a tendency to priggishness. But I imagine most readers of this book will have read at least some of the novels, and will have their own views.

I think Hughes' judgements are sound, though I hope not too many people are put off reading Romola. Despite the shortcomings of that novel and the insufferable saintliness of the eponymous heroine, the villain Tito Melema is an interesting psychological portrait of the lazy and comfort-loving route to evil. Most importantly, Hughes does full justice to the towering achievement of Middlemarch. Eliot's innate social conservatism is drawn out as a common thread across all the novels, most explicitly in the analysis of Felix Holt.

So, this book will help you understand the background of the woman that became George Eliot and her remarkable intellect that made a lasting contribution to the novel. Well worth a read.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Feb. 1999
Format: Hardcover
An amazing insight into the constraints society put upon Victorian women and the stultifying existence of the intelligent woman. Kathryn Hughes reveals the determination that George Elliot had to have to rebel against society,live as she chose and publish what she wanted to write.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Vikil on 10 May 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Despite the unfortunate title (George Elliot may have supported but definitely didn't live by Victorian family values) and misleading cover picture (Elliot was definitely not a looker..) the book itself is very well written and the narrative gives historical perspective to Marian's unconventional personal story. Having read through it, it is astounding what influence she had on the literary scene in England considering the small number of books she written and even smaller number of books which are readable today. Overall well worth the read for the personal story and the historical perspective.
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