This chapter presents samples of criticism from a vast field of Eliot scholarship. Rather than attempt to deal with Eliot criticism in general, I have selected pieces that complement Part 1 of this book. The critics represented here deal with Eliot’s narrative method, with her sense of history and with the question of gender. The earliest of the pieces is from Barbara Hardy’s Particularities: Readings in George Eliot (London: Peter Owen, 1982) and deals with the development of Eliot’s use of narrators. This topic has been touched on in Chapter 1 in considering the opening paragraphs of the novels; Hardy’s essay carries the subject further and deals with additional novels. The second piece is a part of Chapter 4 of Michael Wheeler’s English Fiction of the Victorian Period 1830–1890 (Longman, 1985): this piece, entitled ‘Incarnate history and unhistoric acts’ refers particularly to Silas Marner and Middle-march, and more briefly to Romola and Daniel Deronda, tracing Eliot’s treatment of the impact offictional history on her characters. Wheeler’s analysis extends some of the comments made in Chapters 5 and 6. Finally, we consider an essay by Kate Flint on ‘George Eliot and Gender’, from The Cambridge Companion to George Eliot (ed. George Levine, CUP, 2001): it develops a topic the other critics — indeed, most critics — allude to more briefly.
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