Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 20 (1989) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/
This edition of George Eliot's first fiction reproduces the text of the much acclaimed Clarendon Edition which is also edited by Thomas S. Noble. It is an excellent edition for a student because, besides being so reasonably priced, it contains a most concise chronology of George Eliot and explanatory notes which have been researched with great thoroughness.
In the Introduction, Thomas A. Noble stresses that George Eliot, as one-time editor of The Westminster Review. had been used to reviewing contemporary literature. She had, therefore, a very clear view of what she wished to accomplish as a novelist. She was convinced of the importance, as a subject for serious literature, of the lives of commonplace men and women, and of the novelist's moral obligation to give a true picture of those lives. In ' Amos Barton' she states her position with some force, saying: "My only merit must be in the faithfulness with which 1 represent to you the humble experience of an ordinary fellow mortal. 1 wish to stir your sympathy with commonplace troubles and win your tears for real sorrow."
Mr. Noble writes of George Eliot's attitude to religion, and traces her progress from a zealous evangelical at the age of nine to her ultimate rejection of conventional religious belief at the age of twenty-two. In its place, however, she put the religion of Humanity, and all her moral and intellectual decisions from her young womanhood onwards represent a "striving after something better and better". "1 began to feel for other people's wants and sorrows a little more than 1 used to," she wrote to a friend in 1853.