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January 2, 2019


#Classic: George Eliot, Essays and Poems

by N@ncy



  1. Why did I buy this book?
  2. That is what I kept asking myself as I struggled
  3. …reading Eliot’s essays.
  4. But I am determined in 2019 to read TBR books
  5. …and live under a book buying embargo
  6. …until further notice!



  1. Prospectus of the Westiminister and Foreign Quarterlterrible
  2. Woman In France: Mme de Sablé –  ONLY ESSAY I LIKED!
  3. Dr. Cumming Eliot being the most prominent figure to criticize him for his anti-Catholicism.
  4. German Wit: Heinrich Heineawful, not interested in Heine’s wit. 50% quotes of HH’s works.
  5. The Natural History of German Life – pointless
  6. Silly Novels by Lady Novelists –Eliot is critical of women who think they can write novels.
  7. Worldliness: the Poet Youngfamous essay  by Eliot
  8. She discusses the “radical insincerity as a poetic artist Edward Young”.
  9. Young is famous for long poem Night Thoughts
  10. The poet muses  on death over a series of nine “nights”.
  11. Essay is too long ….just nothing I want to know.
  12. Eliot is clearly NOT a fan of Edward Young.
  13. The Ilfrcombe Journal:  personal notes, vacation with husband, nature walks – boring.
  14. Notes on  Form in Art:  – written in another time….for another audience, not me.
  15. Weak point: overstatement, too many details, should be edited



  1. 6 letters discussing Positivism and
  2. …George Eliot’s dramatic poem The Spanish Gypsy
  3. …with Frederic Harrison.
  4. Harrison (1831-1923)  was a religious teacher, literary critic, historian and jurist.
  5. What is Positivism?
  6. It is a philosophical theory stating that certain knowledge
  7. is based on information derived from sensory experience
  8. …interpreted through reason and logic.
  9. Weak point: uninteresting topic for the general reader



  1. Little did I know that George Eliot was a book critic! 
  2. Eliot published her reviews in the Coventry Herald and Observer,
  3. …The Westminster Review (Eliot was assistant editor)
  4. …Leader  and The Fortnightly Review.
  5. George Eliot has a wonderful
  6. …way of dissing a book, really criticizing it with a smile:
  7. “…So we restrain our noble rage, and say good bye now
  8. …and for ever to Lord Brougham’s  Lives of Men of Letters…”
  9. 20 reviews have more to say to the modern reader.
  10. Strong point reviews:  Reviews were  at times too grand-eloquent
  11. …but I learned something from each review.
  12. When I lost track of Eliot’s core message….I looked up a
  13. condensed version about the book/author in Wikipedia.
  14. Then I could read (if needed…skim) Eliot’s reviews
  15. ..with an eye for the  issues of interest.
  16. Discovery:  A Lost Love (1854, 232 pg)  by Ashford Owen
  17. …pen name Anne Charlotte Ogle, (1832-1918).
  18. Her book is considered one of the best novella’s of it’s era
  19. .…but who has ever read it?
  20. Discovery: John Ruskin (1819 – 1900)
  21. ….was the leading English art critic of the Victorian era. 
  22. Unfortunately I enjoyed the Wikipedia page on Ruskin
  23. more than Eliot’s review!
  24. Strong point:  Eliot’s elaborate writing style that characterized the essays
  25. …gave way in time to plainer language in her 20 reviews (pg 261-389).


Poem:     Armgart (1871)

  1. George Eliot is an important 19th C novelist
  2. …but her two volumes of poetry are often ignored.
  3. Poem: Armgart (dramatic poem with 7 scenes)
  4. Like Middlemarch
  5. Armgart tells the story of the incompatibility
  6. of love and art for an artist who is a woman.
  7. Strange….this feels  more like a ‘mini play’…not a poem!


Poem:    The Spanish Gypsy (1868)

  1. Poem: The Spanish Gypsy
  2. Set 15th C Andalucía: Fedalma, a young woman
  3. born as a gypsy…she was snatched by marauding Spaniards.
  4. She was raised a Catholic by her fiancé Don Silva’s family.
  5. Weak point: this  is a long winded dramatic poem
  6. It has sunk out of sight under its own weight!
  7. Sorry, this is just not good.
  8. Eliot should stick to what she does best….write novels!


Poem:   Brother and Sister (1874)

  1. Just when I was giving up on Eliot’s poetry I found…
  2. Poem:  Brother and Sister
  3. Shakespearean sonnet:  ABAB-CDCD-EFEF-GG)
  4. This is a delightful poem drawing on the
  5. …relationship Eliot had with her brother  Isaac.
  6. This relationship is also the center of The Mill on the Floss (1860)
  7. Strong point You have to discover the world underneath the words.
  8. The shape and rhyme  of the poem is familiar.
  9. The voice of a little girl is innocent. She adores her brother.
  10. The rhythm is used to bring certain feelings of responses.
  11. You may even think about
  12. …your connection to an elder brother…or sister!


Fictional essay by G. Eliot:   –  FromImpressions of Theophrastus Such (1879)

  1. This was Eliot’s last published fiction writing
  2. …and her most experimental.
  3. Debasing the Moral Currency
  4. …is a essay by an imaginary minor scholar
  5. His eccentric character is revealed through his work.
  6. I read this essay twice
  7. ….and all Eliot is saying could
  8. …be summed up in 3 short  sentences!
  9. She regrets  that we are losing the art of of fine wit and humor
  10. We now turn to burlesque and parodies.
  11. We are at the mercy of poor jest…frivolous mood or manner.
  12. Weak point: too long, feels pointless and waste of my reading time!


Translations  (447-468 pg)

  1. I am NOT reading the very last section:
  2. Eliot’s translations of: 
  3. David Strauss’s Life of Jesus
  4. Ludwig Feuerbach’s The Essence of Christianity
  5. I have read enough!



  1. How did I read this dense book?
  2. You have to be motivated.
  3. This was my first book 2019 and
  4. …I was not going to stumble and
  5. …fall with the first challenging book!
  6. #FirstBook 2019



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