George Eliot and the Politics of National Inheritance

George Eliot and the Politics of National Inheritance

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In this stimulating history of the ideas behind George Eliot's novels, Bernard Semmel explores George Eliot's use of the plot of inheritance in her novels. Through detailed analyses of Eliot's novels and a study of the intellectual currents of the time, Semmel demonstrates that her feelings toward inheritance provided the central ideas in her novels. Semmel argues that Eliot wrote of inheritance both in the common meaning of the term, as in the transfer of goods and property from parents to children, and in the more metaphoric sense of the inheritance of both the benefits and burdens of the historical past, particularly those of the nation's culture and traditions. He believes Eliot's novels centered so strongly around the idea of inheritance because she viewed herself as intellectually "disinherited": she was writing at a time when society was transforming itself from a traditional to a modern one, and she was estranged from her father and brother. In this in-depth study, Semmel dissects the politics of many of Eliot's novels, including Middlemarch, The Mill on the Floss, and Silas Marner, and convincingly demonstrates Eliot's variations on the plot of inheritance and her acceptance of the reform processes in Britain's political life. All those interested in Victorian literature, history, and political thought will appreciate Semmel's George Eliot and the Politics of National more

Product details

  • Paperback | 176 pages
  • 154.2 x 233.4 x 13.2mm | 272.16g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0195086570
  • 9780195086577
  • 1,659,358

About Bernard Semmel

Bernard Semmel is Distinguished Professor of History at the Graduate School, City University of New York. He is the author or editor of several books including The Liberal Ideal and the Demons of Empire: Theories of Imperialism from Adam Smith to Lenin (1993).show more

Review quote

...One of the treasures of the American historical profession. What marks this remarkable body of scholarship is breadth, balance, integrity of mind and spirit, and a determination to avoid commonplace conclusions. * Journal of Modern History *show more