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MonkeyNotes-Middlemarch by George Eliot
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She translated the controversial European philosophers of the day - D. F Strauss, the German theologian; Ludwig Feverbach, the humanist philosophies and the French philosophies, August Comte, into English. This gave her acceptance as a serious intellectual and after her father’s death, she decided to earn her living as a writer and journalist. She had also met another writer and historian George Henry Lewes. Lewes and she became close, and finally decided to live together. Marriage was out of the question as Lewes had a living wife with four children. Lewes’ wife was living with one of his colleagues who was the father of some her children. Yet Mary Ann and Lewes decided ending the marriage was not correct, and Lewes supported his family until his death.

It was during this period of her life that she wrote her novels and stories. Her first collection Scenes of Clerical Life (1858) was a member of stories published earlier in Blackwoods Magazine. Then in quick succession came: Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860); Silas Marner (1861); Romola (1863) Felix Hott (1866); then Middlemarch in 1872 and her last Daniel Deronda in 1876.

Mary Ann used the pen name George Eliot from her first novel onwards she chose the name "George" as it was Lewes’ first name, and "Eliot" because she liked it. She had been ostracized after going public about her relationship with Lewes. She obviously didn’t want this notoriety to come between the readers and her books. Charles Dickens, an admirer of her work, guessed the novelist was a woman, but many did not. By the time she published The Mill on the Floss, her identity was known, and her popularity as a novelist made her acceptable to many.


Mary Ann Evans, the farmer’s daughter and Mary Ann Evans the theological and philosophical writer are both found in George Eliot the novelist. She raised the novel form to something for more deep and influential than its earlier role as a mere entertainer. She sought to educate her readers through their emotional sympathy. Like her heroines she struggled to assert herself, to find a voice by which her moral ideas could be conveyed to society. Being part of the new intellectual vanguard, she expressed ideas and concepts in favor of rationality, hard work and science and against the decrepit landowning class. But she did this, not through preaching but the imaginative creation of appealing, very human characters, with whom one can suffer.

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