English, Department of



Masako Hirai

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 30 (1999) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/


The George Eliot Review 2018 (30)


While the main theme of this book is clear and easily grasped, there is an unevenness about the treatment which at times is disconcerting. Biography and critical argument sit uneasily together, some of the statements are outside the frame of current criticism, and there are some subjective and questionable assertions. Take this about the relationship between George Henry Lewes and George Eliot: 'Yet even Lewes, I think, was more superficial (sometimes even disloyal) than her nature demanded, having a journalistic rather than an academic mind, and taking a broad interest in everything. Understandably, he could not share her deepest struggle, which she fought while she wrote her novels' (19). Not only does this suggest that Masako Hirai has not read any Lewes, it also perpetuates a dated Lewes myth and states what cannot be known. There is also repetition, for instance, on 3 and 30, of Lawrence's statement about Eliot taking 'two couples and developing their relationship' ... 'Most of George Eliot's are on that plan'. Stylistic clichés are repeated: 'surmount the gap' is followed by 'fill the gap' on 19, perhaps inevitably becoming 'bridge the gap' on 41, while we are told on 43 that 'There is a gap between the life of a Spanish saint and that of Dorothea Brooke'. The discussion between Dorothea and Celia has a variant - 'the chasm between the two minds' (56), but twenty pages later gap has been restored. There is a gap between Henry Wilcox and Margaret, and also one before the beginning of Women in Love. Eliot's names are examined, and of Lydgate we are told 'He means to be a gate'.