English, Department of



Beryl Gray

Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 20 (1989)


Published by The George Eliot Review Online https://GeorgeEliotReview.org


This is a fascinating investigation of the influence of music on George Eliot, and how that influence permeates both her life and her writing. The focus is on three novels - The Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda - but before that there is a brief musical biography. Or Gray asserts that hitherto the pervading presence of music in her work has been critically undervalued, that, in fact, music 'arches over' that work and 'greatly illuminates her artistry.' She praises the influence of the Brays in widening and deepening the young Marian Evans's capacity for appreciation, so that 'her sententiousness yielded to musical exuberance.' Then she traces the expansive Geneva experience, and the quick acquisition of a piano when Marian lodged with Olapman. She went to Covent Garden regularly with Herbert Spencer. Music had become and continued to be 'an integral part of her domestic life, and fundamental to her social relationships.'