counter George Eliot, Voice of a Century: A Biography - Free Download Books
Hot Best Seller

George Eliot, Voice of a Century: A Biography

Availability: Ready to download

Frederick R. Karl's magisterial biography of George Eliot proves her to be one of the most fascinating and iconic individuals of her time. Born in 1819 as Mary Anne Evans, she grew up near rural Coventry when the pastoral life was being destroyed by the rapid rise of industrialism. Her father, Robert Evans, took care of an estate, where the family lived. Eliot, his younges Frederick R. Karl's magisterial biography of George Eliot proves her to be one of the most fascinating and iconic individuals of her time. Born in 1819 as Mary Anne Evans, she grew up near rural Coventry when the pastoral life was being destroyed by the rapid rise of industrialism. Her father, Robert Evans, took care of an estate, where the family lived. Eliot, his youngest child, absorbed the world around her, its beauty and its delicate sense of stability, which was about to be thoroughly disrupted. Eliot thrived on learning while she stayed home, taking care of her aging father. Upon his death, she began her long process of emergence and change. Her unusual intelligence and literary capacity brought her to the attention of John Chapman, who enlisted her to work on the intellectual Westminster Review in London. While there she met some of the leading thinkers of her era, including Herbert Spencer. Karl focuses on her relationships with these men in a way earlier biographers have been unable, using many letters and documents previously unavailable. Karl shows how Eliot's break from respectable womanhood by running off with the married George Henry Lewes allowed her to begin her career as the major British novelist of the nineteenth century. Often, she drew upon her own life to create her plots and characters. She set several of her masterworks - Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Felix Holt, and Middlemarch - in the England of the past and her youth to show a complex portrait of society and character - one that captures us today with its moral dilemmas and psychological shrewdness.


Compare

Frederick R. Karl's magisterial biography of George Eliot proves her to be one of the most fascinating and iconic individuals of her time. Born in 1819 as Mary Anne Evans, she grew up near rural Coventry when the pastoral life was being destroyed by the rapid rise of industrialism. Her father, Robert Evans, took care of an estate, where the family lived. Eliot, his younges Frederick R. Karl's magisterial biography of George Eliot proves her to be one of the most fascinating and iconic individuals of her time. Born in 1819 as Mary Anne Evans, she grew up near rural Coventry when the pastoral life was being destroyed by the rapid rise of industrialism. Her father, Robert Evans, took care of an estate, where the family lived. Eliot, his youngest child, absorbed the world around her, its beauty and its delicate sense of stability, which was about to be thoroughly disrupted. Eliot thrived on learning while she stayed home, taking care of her aging father. Upon his death, she began her long process of emergence and change. Her unusual intelligence and literary capacity brought her to the attention of John Chapman, who enlisted her to work on the intellectual Westminster Review in London. While there she met some of the leading thinkers of her era, including Herbert Spencer. Karl focuses on her relationships with these men in a way earlier biographers have been unable, using many letters and documents previously unavailable. Karl shows how Eliot's break from respectable womanhood by running off with the married George Henry Lewes allowed her to begin her career as the major British novelist of the nineteenth century. Often, she drew upon her own life to create her plots and characters. She set several of her masterworks - Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Felix Holt, and Middlemarch - in the England of the past and her youth to show a complex portrait of society and character - one that captures us today with its moral dilemmas and psychological shrewdness.

30 review for George Eliot, Voice of a Century: A Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Traveller

    Phew, this tome gets rather bogged down in the minutae of MS Eliot's life. Quite interesting reading, but I might not have the time/courage to finish it completely. I didn't read every page of this work, and I don't plan to either. I'll rate it a 3, nevertheless. I found it too long-winding and focused on minatue to be really useful for my purposes. It's more useful to those who are really really very interested in every single small detail of Eliot's personal life. I was looking for something a Phew, this tome gets rather bogged down in the minutae of MS Eliot's life. Quite interesting reading, but I might not have the time/courage to finish it completely. I didn't read every page of this work, and I don't plan to either. I'll rate it a 3, nevertheless. I found it too long-winding and focused on minatue to be really useful for my purposes. It's more useful to those who are really really very interested in every single small detail of Eliot's personal life. I was looking for something a bit more focused on her scholarly influences, and while this is indeed interwoven into the text, I found it quite a job to try and condense what I needed from all the other domestic and social details. Let's put this on my "skimmed" list. :)

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ann

    I can't believe I read the whole thing! I had to keep plowing through to get to the end when she writes Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, my two favorite Eliot novels. After recently reading another insanely long biography of Henry James, I find it interesting that although Eliot achieved the financial success and widespread fame that proved elusive for James most of his life, the old adage "more money more problems" rings true. Eliot was by no means happy, although she comes across as devastating I can't believe I read the whole thing! I had to keep plowing through to get to the end when she writes Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, my two favorite Eliot novels. After recently reading another insanely long biography of Henry James, I find it interesting that although Eliot achieved the financial success and widespread fame that proved elusive for James most of his life, the old adage "more money more problems" rings true. Eliot was by no means happy, although she comes across as devastatingly charming. Your favorite friend who is the life of the party yet also a horrid hypochrondiac. Victorian times weren't easy on the ladies: especially if you wanted a divorce. But the class divide was the most striking: Eliot worked her way up from a middle class background into the company of lords and viscounts and all that but she was a major exception to the rule. You were pretty much screwed if you were lower class, with her semi-contemporary and fellow celebrity Dickens being the other major exception to that rule. Things would be different if she was born later for sure, but she was a "man" of her time. I was really struck with the backwards nature of medicine in the mid nineteenth century that really failed someone with kidney problems like George. I do agree with one form of treatment however: "As prescribed by Paget to cleanse out her system, she was to drink a pint of champagne every day, which perhaps kept her slightly tipsy." Now there's a cleanse I can get down with.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rosanne Petersen

    Very interesting lady in a very interesting time.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    This is an absorbing literary biography of a complex woman and powerful author. Karl appears to have not only read each published and unpublished work of Eliot but also all her extant correspondence and much written by her contemporaries as well. Furthermore, he has a deep and sensitive appreciation of the Victorian context, showing how it determined Eliot's life even as she challenged many of its conventions. Although she was exceptionally intelligent and a strong intellectual, it was not easy This is an absorbing literary biography of a complex woman and powerful author. Karl appears to have not only read each published and unpublished work of Eliot but also all her extant correspondence and much written by her contemporaries as well. Furthermore, he has a deep and sensitive appreciation of the Victorian context, showing how it determined Eliot's life even as she challenged many of its conventions. Although she was exceptionally intelligent and a strong intellectual, it was not easy for her to live with George Lewes, the cuckolded husband of another woman, even though their 20 plus years together were clearly happy and they enjoyed a devoted partnership. Karl shows through her name changes and insistence of being known as Mrs Lewes, even when she was not accepted into areas of polite society, how agonizing the position was for Eliot. The rejection by her own family was particularly hurtful although reconciliation with her brother, Isaac, did take place once she became 'respectably' married to John Cross after Lewes' death. Karl shows how her own experiences in addition to her widespread reading helped to shape her fiction and provides illuminating critical analysis of the books and various characters. Eliot's personality is revealed in the course of the story of her life: her attention to detail, the morbid sensitivity to criticism from which Lewes shielded her, her love for walks and the countryside as well as extensive reading and stimulating encounters in intellectual circles. The extent of travel to Europe and even outside of London is surprising considering the relative hardship and the Lewes' often indifferent state of health, but, in addition to providing a welcome escape from London society, it also contributed to the work of both, from Lewes' work on Goethe to the context for Romola and Daniel Deronda and even scenes from Middlemarch such as Dorothea's honeymoon in Rome. The relationship with Eliot's main publisher Blackwood's is also covered in detail and Karl demonstrates how Lewes efficiently took charge of the business relationship. Overall this is an exceptional biography which helps to show how Eliot became one of the most significant voices of the Victorian age.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Frederick Karl is in love with George Eliot. He will make you love her too. (I must first admit that I did not technically finish this 600+ densely detailed biography. I avidly read through Marian Evans Lewes' unmasking as George Eliot and the publication of the Mill on the Floss and then I skimmed to the end, her death, which brought tears to my eyes.) Karl works from such a wealth of source material - journals, wills, letters, published reviews, company memos and accounts, church records - tha Frederick Karl is in love with George Eliot. He will make you love her too. (I must first admit that I did not technically finish this 600+ densely detailed biography. I avidly read through Marian Evans Lewes' unmasking as George Eliot and the publication of the Mill on the Floss and then I skimmed to the end, her death, which brought tears to my eyes.) Karl works from such a wealth of source material - journals, wills, letters, published reviews, company memos and accounts, church records - that he succeeds in recreating George Eliot's life almost day by day. I had lumped Eliot into a group with the Brontes and George Sand as women who took men's pseudonyms for publication purposes (much like the androgynous pseudonyms used more recently by young adult writers, J.K. Rowling, S.E. Hinton and others). But Karl shows how much deeper this identity crisis goes. The process of Mary Anne Evans becoming George Eliot is not quick or simple and drives right to the heart of this amazing woman's insecurities about her own identity throughout her life. She was a scandalous woman at a time when only men could survive personal scandal and even benefit from it. Rightly, she feared that the fact of her relationship with the married George Lewes would undermine the intrinsic worth and artistry of her work. The efforts to maintain her incognito are impressive and sadly prophetic as she is correct in the reactions that follow her unmasking. Karl builds up to this masterfully by changing his own form of address for his subject subtly throughout the first half of this biography until finally using Eliot solely when her artistic identity overshadows all others. I was already a fan (but not a student) of the Victorians and through Karl have found my ideal period, the late 1850's when Dickens, Thackeray and Eliot were defining their age. I will return to this biography to savor the rest of the story at some point but first, I will search out Scenes of a Clerical Life and Adam Bede and begin at the beginning of George Eliot.

  6. 5 out of 5

    John

    A wonderful biography by one of my favorite biographers, an accomplished narrator of the lives of Conrad, Kafka, and Faulkner, in addition to Eliot. Karl presents Eliot as a very brave woman, who was determined to establish a sphere of life in which she could use her enormous talent and intelligence, maintain an independent existence, escape the imprisonment of conventional gender roles in Victorian England, without resorting to wholesale rejection of the society in which she lived. All this is A wonderful biography by one of my favorite biographers, an accomplished narrator of the lives of Conrad, Kafka, and Faulkner, in addition to Eliot. Karl presents Eliot as a very brave woman, who was determined to establish a sphere of life in which she could use her enormous talent and intelligence, maintain an independent existence, escape the imprisonment of conventional gender roles in Victorian England, without resorting to wholesale rejection of the society in which she lived. All this is to say that Eliot was enormously conflicted, but heroically brave, and she paid a heavy emotional price for treding the very fine line she trod. She succeeded, nonetheless, in carving out a free space for herself, pointing a way toward a certain autonomy and independence to the middle-class women of her time who aspired to more than complete submission to mind-numbing conformity and soul-killing conventionality. I would love to read a biography of Virginia Woolf that Karl might write - if he chose Woolk as his subject, but as far as I know he hasn't, unfortunately

  7. 5 out of 5

    Leora Wenger

    I would recommend reading several of George Eliot's books before reading this biography. Once you have, the biography will be quite a treat. One memorable note from the book: having just completed Daniel Deronda, in which she writes about Jews in the 19th century in a quite positive light (rare in that period), she befriends the wife of Wagner, who is a vehement antisemite. George Eliot is the quintessential woman who doesn't fit in who somehow becomes a woman that many hold in high esteem. It s I would recommend reading several of George Eliot's books before reading this biography. Once you have, the biography will be quite a treat. One memorable note from the book: having just completed Daniel Deronda, in which she writes about Jews in the 19th century in a quite positive light (rare in that period), she befriends the wife of Wagner, who is a vehement antisemite. George Eliot is the quintessential woman who doesn't fit in who somehow becomes a woman that many hold in high esteem. It seems she became a writer because she needed the money. By the time she wrote Daniel Deronda, it was no longer about the money but about what she wanted to express. She often worked in between periods of illness, suffering from painful kidney stones and toothaches.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    Good for research.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lizzie

    Picked up a copy of this at The Book Barn yesterday. Picked up a copy of this at The Book Barn yesterday.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Colleen

    While I enjoyed reading about the amazing George Eliot, I felt that this was more of an in-depth study of her works, than a biography of her life. I never finished this book.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joyce M. Tice

    Purchased April 2010

  12. 5 out of 5

    Praj

  13. 4 out of 5

    Izza Fadli Abdurrafi

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Lowe

  16. 4 out of 5

    Meredith

  17. 4 out of 5

    Whitney

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ted

  19. 4 out of 5

    DrMama

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kimberly

  21. 5 out of 5

    Albert

  22. 5 out of 5

    Chris

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sara Salih

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

  25. 5 out of 5

    Bonnie Bess

  26. 4 out of 5

    Joshua

  27. 4 out of 5

    Patty

  28. 4 out of 5

    Monica

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ashley

  30. 5 out of 5

    Beth

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.