English, Department of


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The George Eliot Review 34 (2003) Published by The George Eliot Fellowship, http://georgeeliot.org/


The George Eliot Review 2019 (34)


This collection of essays on two of George Eliot's most popular novels adds to the growing number of Casebooks produced by Palgrave. These are useful volumes, particularly for students, providing as they do a selection of recent critical perspectives. That said, I would have thought that The Mill on the Floss might have merited a volume all to itself; however the choice of essays contained herein provides some interesting links both within and across the two novels discussed.

In their Introduction, the editors comment that 'the essays reprinted in this New Casebook serve as a reminder of the dimensions of Eliot's achievements and the complex and often open-ended questions her work elicits', identifying Eliot as 'realist, scientist and sage' (5). As I mentioned above, the essays seem to have been chosen for the ways in which they link across the two novels, rather than because each exemplifies some particular aspect of Eliot studies, which means that the depth of Eliot criticism is not, perhaps, fully conveyed. However, there is much to enjoy in this volume.

The inclusion of some of Sally Shuttleworth's work on Eliot would probably be regarded as essential by most Eliot scholars, and her discussion of Silas Mamer from George Eliot and Nineteenth-Century Science concludes the collection. Other selections exhibit a variety of interpretive strategies, with the balance in terms of numbers slightly in favour of The Mill on the Floss. Contributions range from J. Hillis Miller's deconstructionist reading of The Mill on the Floss to Jim Reilly's historicist examination of Silas Mamer.