Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 16 (1985)
This is a most welcome and meticulous distillation of Dr. Haight's The George Eliot Letters in nine volumes, which in this age of the video cassette will be inaccessible even in many good reference libraries. My only reservation about the editing of this very readable book of some 650 letters in 560 pages is that the letters themselves are not numbered. I certainly commend the informative headnotes above each letter, though sometimes the longer the letter, the briefer the note, which proves that Dr. Haight is never one to obtrude between himself and his heroine.
The first sentence of the second letter in the book, written when George Eliot was aged 19, places her homely character. "My dear friend, I pursue the same plan with my letter as I used when a little child with my pudding, that of dispatching the part for which I had the least relish first".
Her first book, The Life of Jesus, was published in 1846. I find it interesting that, in preparing this for publication, she worried herself over an obscure matter of a date in the Jewish Passover - the 14th of Nissan; not too many Jews would know the answer today. But when she embarked on her last novel, Daniel Deronda, the roots were obviously deep and long.