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Rereading George Eliot
Changing Responses to Her Experiments in Life
Rereading George Eliot
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Bernard J. Paris - Author
SUNY series in Psychoanalysis and Culture
Hardcover - 234 pages
Release Date: July 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5833-4
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5833-4

Out of Print
Price: $32.95 
Paperback - 234 pages
Release Date: July 2003
ISBN10: 0-7914-5834-2
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-5834-1

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A noted Eliot scholar explores how we become different interpreters of literature as we undergo psychological change.

In a probing analysis that has broad implications for theories of reading, Bernard J. Paris explores how personal needs and changes in his own psychology have affected his responses to George Eliot over the years. Having lost his earlier enthusiasm for her "Religion of Humanity," he now appreciates the psychological intuitions that are embodied in her brilliant portraits of characters and relationships. Concentrating on Eliot's most impressive psychological novels, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, Paris focuses on her detailed portrayals of major characters in an effort to recover her intuitions and appreciate her mimetic achievement. He argues that although she intended for her characters to provide confirmation of her views, she was instead led to deeper, more enduring truths, although she did not consciously comprehend the discoveries she had made. Like her characters, Paris argues, these truths must be disengaged from her rhetoric in order to be perceived.

“This is a very fine, jargon-free book by someone who has obviously spent years thinking deeply about Eliot and her art and has striking and thought-provoking things to say. There is a great deal to learn from this … volume.” — George Eliot Review

“Happily, Paris’s current lens focuses on the means through which Eliot makes her characters real, her mimetic achievements. His analyses augment Eliot scholarship by illuminating psychological aspects of her characters, in whom he finds ‘revelations about the human psyche and human relationships that are deeper and more enduring than anything George Eliot consciously knew or could formulate in her commentary.’” — George Eliot–George Henry Lewes Studies

"Consistently fascinating and engaging, this book represents a new kind of criticism in which the interpreter is as interested in interrogating himself as he is the writer under study." — Jeffrey Berman, author of Risky Writing: Self-Disclosure and Self-Transformation in the Classroom

"This important study by a major Eliot scholar is a real contribution not only to Eliot criticism but also to reader-response theory and reception theory. This is a book I will use in teaching, not because I necessarily agree with every interpretation Paris offers, but because he identifies the cruxes and problems in Eliot's texts that many critics overlook or sweep under the rug, and these issues would be wonderful topics to discuss and debate in the classroom. This book will be a great tool for teachers." — Gordon Hirsch, coeditor of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: After One Hundred Years

Bernard J. Paris is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Florida and the author of a number of books, including Experiments in Life: George Eliot's Quest for Values and Imagined Human Beings: A Psychological Approach to Character and Conflict in Literature.

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Table of Contents


1. No Longer the Same Interpreter

Reading George Eliot Then and Now
A Psychological Perspective
Rhetoric Versus Mimesis
Critical Controversies

2. "An Angel Beguiled": Dorothea Brooke

Calvin Bedient on Middlemarch
Rhetorical Treatment of Dorothea
Dorothea as a Mimetic Character
Dorothea's "Education": Casaubon
Dorothea and Will
Saving Rosamond
Dorothea's Sad Sacrifice

3. The Two Selves of Tertius Lydgate

Lydgate as Foil to Dorothea
Prelude to Lydgate
Lydgate's Two Selves
Lydgate's Demoralization
Lydgate and Rosamond
Lydgate's Sad Sacrifice

4. "A Dreadful Plain Girl": Mary Garth

A Foil to the Egoists
Mary's Hard Life
Mary and Fred
Fred Vincy
That Happy Ending

5. "This Problematic Sylph": Gwendolen Harleth

Great Achievements and Great Problems
A Confusing Picture of Gwendolen
More Versions of Gwendolen
Gwendolen's Sorrows
Enter Grandcourt

6. "The Crushed Penitent": Gwendolen's Transformation

Gwendolen's Terror and Guilt
Captain Davilow and Mrs. Glasher
Postmarital Miseries

7. Gwendolen and Daniel: A Therapeutic Relationship?

Critical Disagreements
Is Deronda's Influence Transformative?
Gwendolen and Grandcourt's Death
Deronda Not Gwendolen's Therapist
Gwendolen's New Existence

8. Deronda the Deliverer

An Imagined Human Being
Daniel's Peculiar Position
Search for a Vocation
Deronda's Ambivalence
The Failed Relationship with Gwendolen




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