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Woman of Contradictions: The Life of George Eliot Hardcover – December, 1989

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Claiming that her perusal of primary sources has "yielded a welter of new information and exploded many myths," Taylor ( Victorian Sisters ) here promises to reveal the "real woman" behind the "smokescreen" erected by previous biographers around the 19th-century British novelist. (The chief villain cited is John Cross, Eliot's husband and first biographer.) But in Taylor's eagerness to prove Eliot less stodgy than rumored--she "found herself the object of lesbian affection, yet loved men and experienced several love affairs before she finally married"--the biographer fails to make clear just how new is her information. She takes Gordon Haight ( George Eliot ) to task for his reliance on Cross, yet herself refers frequently to Haight's edition of Eliot's letters, not clarifying adequately how her conclusions differ from his. The volume's brevity also works against Taylor's purposes; she skims over her subject's life, too often piquing the reader's curiosity (e.g., implicating Cross in Eliot's death) without fully developing her thesis. A less than graceful style further mars her effort. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

With two major biographies of George Eliot already available (J.W. Cross's intimate George Eliot's Life as Related in Her Letters and Journals and Gordon S. Haight's standard George Eliot: A Biography ), one would think a new life unwarranted. Taylor suggests, however, that both biographers were more interested in hagiography than in the "real" author of Middlemarch. Considering the early years as crucial to Eliot's later intellectual, social, and creative development, Taylor presents a woman who was "everything a Victorian female was not supposed to be": sensual, materialistic, assertive, and subtly deceptive. Ironically, Taylor's Eliot is much more attractive to our contemporary tastes. Although this biography seems sketchy at times, it sheds new light on a major novelist whose very name and appearance is under dispute.
- Donald P. Kaczvinsky, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 255 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co; 1st U.S. ed edition (December 1989)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688094058
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688094058
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6.6 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,614,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I have frequently had my curiosity aroused by people freaking out. People who die soon after they get married have something in common with Otto Rank, who had already written a preface for his last book in June, 1939, in

Beyond Psychology

and died before the end of the year within a few months of the death of Freud. Rank's wife got Beyond Psychology published like Cross wrote a biography of George Eliot after her death. Cross tried to commit suicide by drowning in Venice on his honeymoon when George Eliot called a doctor to treat his mental illness. Love can be a negative factor in mental breakdowns. The kind of attention that people reflect from each other can be unstable. Intellectual misfits can seem comic now, as in Public Enemies: Dueling Writers Take On Each Other and the World. Many of the characters created by George Eliot became tangled in moral complexities. She frequently wanted life to offer something better than the middling England of Middlemarch. Middlemarch Being a woman of contradiction is the basic way an intellectual woman tries to get her feet on the ground.
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