First published in 1989. Generations of critics have seen George Eliot as a conservative Victorian high moralist and sybil. Vocation and Desire questions that image, and finds in her work elements of anger, feminism, subversiveness, revenge, iconoclasm, wit, and eroticism – elements that we have been taught not to expect. After looking at the development of the sybilline image and the gradual eclipse of the subversive George Eliot – which Eliot herself initiated – Dorothea Barrett goes on to investigate the evidence of the novels themselves and finds an alternative emphasis. Her study of the heroines of the six major novels and issues of language and desire provides a refreshing and acute analysis of the contradictions and strengths of Eliot’s work. She also considers the reception of George Eliot by feminist critics and the broader implications of her work for contemporary feminism. This title will be of interest to students of literature.
Preface; Acknowledgements; 1. The Making and Remaking of George Eliot 2. Reconstructing George Eliot 3. Hetty and Dinah: The Battle for Predominance in ‘Adam Bede’ 4. Demonism, Feminism, and Incest in ‘The Mill on the Floss’ 5. ‘Romola’: Woman as History 6. Language and Desire in ‘Felix Holt’ 7. Dialectic and Polyphony in ‘Middlemarch’ 8. The Open-Endedness of ‘Daniel Deronda’ 9. George Eliot and Twentieth-Century Feminist Perspectives; Notes; References; Index