Scenes of Clerical Life

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Penguin Adult, 1998 - Fiction - 369 pages
4 Reviews
A new edition of George Eliot's earliest published fictional work with a new Introduction and Notes reflecting recent scholarship

These stories, first published in Blackwood's Magazine in 1857, constitute George Eliot's fictional debut. They contain her earliest studies of what became enduring themes in her great novels: the impact of religious controversy and social change on provincial life and the power of love to transform the lives of individual men and women. Although Eliot would have to wait until the publication of her next work, Adam Bede, for fame and fortune, Scenes of Clerical Life won acclaim from a discerning readership, including Charles Dickens, who wrote: "I hope you will excuse my writing to you to express my admiration....The exquisite truth and delicacy, both of the humour and the pathos of those stories, I have never seen the like of." This Penguin Classics edition also features "How I Came to Write Fiction," Eliot's own recollection of her novelistic abilities.

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User Review  - pgchuis - LibraryThing

I found these novellas each quite different. "Amos Barton", the first and shortest was probably my favourite. Everyone in it was resolutely ordinary and nothing really remarkable happened, but it felt ... Read full review

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User Review  - gypsysmom - LibraryThing

This was George Eliot's first published work. Unlike her later works it is not a novel but instead three short stories. The first is The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton. Reverend Barton is ... Read full review

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About the author (1998)

Mary Ann (Marian) Evanswas born in 1819 in Warwickshire. She attended schools in Nuneaton and Coventry, coming under the influence of evangelical teachers and clergymen. In 1836 her mother died and Marian became her father's housekeeper, educating herself in her spare time. In 1841 she moved to Coventry, and met Charles and Caroline Bray, local progressive intellectuals. Through them she was commissioned to translate Strauss's Life of Jesus and met the radical publisher John Chapman, who, when he purchased the Westminster Review in 1851, made her his managing editor.

Having lost her Christian faith and thereby alienated her family, she moved to London and met Herbert Spencer (whom she nearly married, only he found her too 'morbidly intellectual') and the versatile man-of-letters George Henry Lewes. Lewes was separated from his wife, but with no possibility of divorce. In 1854 he and Marian decided to live together, and did so until Lewes's death in 1878. It was he who encouraged her to turn from philosophy and journalism to fiction, and during those years, under the name of George Eliot, she wrote Scenes of Clerical Life, Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Felix Holt, Middlemarchand Daniel Deronda, as well as numerous essays, articles and reviews.

George Eliot died in 1880, only

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