English, Department of


Date of this Version


Document Type



The George Eliot Review 20 (1989)


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