Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 48 (2017)
The title of this book is interesting, as the subtitle describes what it is about but the main title refers to a fictional character from Middlemarch, part of a novel recently voted the greatest in English. Such a title makes the book much more marketable to a general audience and more likely to be reviewed in some of the broadsheets than a title which indicates that this is a book that 'venture[s] into the thickets of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century antiquarianism' (vi). But the downside of the more appealing title is that readers who expect Middlemarch to play a central role may be disappointed as references to the novel and Mr. Casaubon are a small part of a text in which the main focus is on summarizing theological arguments and debates that can be found in the large number of books that Professor Kidd has read but few readers will have come across or even heard of. On the other hand, the scholarly readership that is Kidd's most obvious audience may feel Mr. Casaubon's activities, or lack of them, in Middlemarch, are something of a distraction in regard to Kidd's heroic effort to bring to life theological debates which have been virtually edited out of the intellectual history of the west.