Reading George Eliot's work was described by one Victorian critic as like the feeling of entering the confessional in which the novelist sees and hears all the secrets of human psychology-'that roar which lies on the other side of silence'. This new biography of George Eliot goes beyond the much-told story of her life. It gives an account of what it means to become a novelist, and to think like a novelist: in particular a realist novelist for whom art exists
not for art's sake but in the exploration and service of human life. It shows the formation and the workings of George Eliot's mind as it plays into her creation of some of the greatest novels of the Victorian era.
When at the age of 37 Marian Evans became George Eliot, this change followed long mental preparation and personal suffering. During this time she related her power of intelligence to her capacity for feeling: discovering that her thinking and her art had to combine both. That was the great ambition of her novels-not to be mere pastimes or fictions but experiments in life and helps in living, through the deepest account of human complexity available. Philip Davis's illuminating new
biography will enable you both to see through George Eliot's eyes and to feel what it is like to be seen by her, in the imaginative involvement of her readers with her characters.
Philip Davis is the author of The Victorians 1830-1880, volume 8 in the Oxford English Literary History Series, and a companion volume on Why Victorian Literature Still Matters. He has written on Shakespeare, Samuel Johnson, the literary uses of memory from Wordsworth to Lawrence, and various books on reading. He is general editor of OUP's new paperback series, The Literary Agenda, on the role of literature in the world of the twenty-first century. His previous literary biography was a life of Bernard Malamud. Davis is editor of The Reader magazine, the written voice of the outreach organisation The Reader.