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George Eliot’s Rage

Thursday Lecture Series

dateOctober 18, 2012 timeThursday, 12:15pm EDT location The Heyman Center, Columbia University

George Eliot’s novels are famous for their tact and serene sympathy, but her essays are nothing of the sort. Her understudied career as an essayist and editor for the Westminster Review between 1851–1856, before she began to write fiction, is remarkable for its often contemptuous and objurgatory tone. Dr. Russell’s talk identified the unifying principles in these apparently disparate essays by demonstrating how Eliot used the essay form to explore the constricting limitations of the culture she was attempting to make her way in as a single woman from Warwickshire. He argued that it was from these experiments in critical form and affective tone that Eliot developed her own distinctive and innovative novelistic technique.