Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 23 (1992)
Writing to Blackwood in November 1856 to introduce Scenes of Clerical Life, G.H. Lewes promised,
tales and sketches illustrative of the actual life of our country clergy about a quarter of a century ago; but solely in its 'human' and 'not at all' in its 'theological' aspect; the object being to do what has never yet been done in our Literature, for we have abundant religious stories polemical and doctrinal, but since the Vicar and Miss Austen, no stories representing the clergy like any other class with the humours, sorrows, and troubles of other men.
Oliver Lovesey's new study is an overdue attempt to examine the value of Lewes's claim, placing Eliot's presentation of the clergy in the context of contemporary social history and prevalent literary practice, whilst also throwing in some examination of fictional theory as a sop to those not content with the works of Eliot per se.