The Counterfeit Gothic Heroine in Middlemarch

Mahawatte explores George Eliot‘s use of the Gothic in Middlemarch (1871–72) and in particular the literary connections between Dorothea Casaubon and the heroine of the Gothic novel. He argues that Eliot has a conflicting relationship with this figure, at once wanting to satirize her, and yet also deploying Gothic images and resonances to add an authenticity of affect to her social commentary. Using Jerold E. Hogle‘s idea that the Gothic re-fakes what is already read as a copy, Mahawatte presents Dorothea as a quasi-reproduction of Sophia Lee‘s heroines in The Recess; or, A Tale of Other Times (1783–85) and also as part of a Gothic process within a social realist novel.

Gothic Studies
Middlemarch and Great Expectations

drives the development of the post-Romantic novel. 7 The matters raised here involve complex issues in literary history, particularly with respect to narrators and characters and the new technologies of nineteenth-century narrative fiction. In this chapter, though, I will confine myself to a discussion of two of the most fully achieved and most commonly discussed English novels from the mid-nineteenth century, Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations (1860–61) and George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871–72). And I will focus my discussion further by

in Ignorance
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Literature and agnoiology

This book argues that ignorance is part of the narrative and poetic force of literature, as well as an important aspect of its thematic focus: ignorance is what literary texts are about. The author argues that the dominant conception of literature since the Romantic period has involved an often unacknowledged engagement with the experience of not knowing. From Wordsworth and Keats to George Eliot and Charles Dickens, from Henry James to Joseph Conrad, from Elizabeth Bowen to Philip Roth and Seamus Heaney, writers have been fascinated and compelled by the question of ignorance, including their own. The book argues that there is a politics and ethics, as well as a poetics, of ignorance: literature's agnoiology, its acknowledgement of the limits of what we know both of ourselves and of others, engages with the possibility of democracy and the ethical, and allows us to begin to conceive of what it might mean to be human.

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Pasts, present, futures

, Middlemarch: A Study of Provincial Life (1874)1 I n G eorge E li ot ’ s celeb rat ed novel, Middlemarch, the young and idealistic doctor, Tertius Lydgate, enters upon his career as a provincial general practitioner with hope, expectation and not a little pride. Schooled in the avant-garde anatomo-clinical methods of Edinburgh and Paris, he intends to make a great contribution to medical science, to move beyond the pioneering work of the French anatomist, Xavier Bichat, and discover the essential ‘primitive tissue’ from which the structures of the human body are composed

in Performing medicine
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Rethinking closure in the Victorian novel

seemingly adrift in narratological possibility (like in Brontë’s Villette, or perhaps Great Expectations).8 The ‘progressive end’ is one that steps into the future beyond the immediate scope of the novel to explain, or merely suggest, the destinies of its characters (like Middlemarch or James’s Washington Square).9 The ‘present end’ is a narrative that ceases without venturing into the future. The most obvious and justifiable criticism of such an endeavour is that it is not possible to discuss meaningfully the endings that occur in all Victorian fiction. Such an

in Discovering Gilgamesh
Open Access (free)
Henry James reads George Eliot

curiously prescient that the young reader/writer should articulate and admire this observed quality in the older novelist which was to be so fatally lacking in Edward Casaubon, in the yet unwritten Middlemarch, and so malignantly perverted in Gilbert Osmond in the Portrait of a Lady. Dorothea Brooke and Isabel Archer could both be said to long for ‘knowledge so ample and active’ as indeed the heroines of his little clutch of stories already showed interesting signs of doing – and continued to do throughout his work. Reviewing Felix Holt sent James back to George Eliot in

in Special relationships
Open Access (free)
Universalism and the Jewish question

Introduction: universalism and the Jewish question Prejudices, like odorous bodies, have a double existence both solid and subtle – solid as the pyramids, subtle as the twentieth echo of an echo, or as the memory of hyacinths which once scented the darkness. (George Eliot, Middlemarch ) 1 Two faces of universalism Universalism is an equivocal

in Antisemitism and the left
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indirect discourse in the nineteenth century, Andrew Bennett argues that this ‘new narrative technology that above all other drives the development of the post-Romantic novel’ worked to clamber above the increasingly diverse and discordant character of modern society, in the hope of replacing the experience of irreducible ignorance that brought, with some sort of reassuring continuity. In Bennett’s view, a characteristic achievement of the liberal project of the nineteenth-century novel like Conclusion 157 Middlemarch can be understood as ‘a vast network of textuality

in Samuel Richardson and the theory of tragedy

Middlemarch turns on Casaubon’s nephew and, in effect, casts him out: ‘“Young Ladislaw the grandson of a thieving Jew pawnbroker” was a phrase which had entered emphatically into the dialogues about the Bulstrode business.’ 10 These examples make the connection between Welsh’s and Sedgwick’s work clear. Sedgwick points out that blackmail and the fear of scandal serve homosociality and feelings of homosexual

in Queering the Gothic

lines and compress the residual effect of reading a much longer work, like Gray’s poem, again, or like an Anglo-Saxon poem such as ‘The Ruin’, which has that same poignant sense of the surviving work of long-gone genera­tions. Or even, to be more extreme, like a novel such as George Eliot’s Middlemarch, which is about youth and age, promise and disappointment, and themes of that grand order. When saying that Hulme’s minimalist poem is ‘like’ a novel, I mean a novel in its residual form, as it exists in the mind a few years after reading, by which time it has probably

in Reading poetry