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Like the previous writings of George Eliot, it finds the material of its wonderful creations, not in poetic, imaginative flights above the sphere of common life, but in a tender, religious sympathy with the actual workings of our prosaic humanity. The author exhibits an insight into the secret heart of onr nature scarcely less subtle and manifold than that of Shakespeare, and with the incisive, masterly touches of her pen produces a series of images, glowing with the warm breath of vitality, andso consonant with the revelations of experience, as scarcely to awaken the suspicion of art. Her delicacy of conception is fully matched by her vigor of execution. * * * Such a rare cabinet of character-sketches is perhaps not to be found in any other single production of English literature. With no grimace or distortion of feature, each personage exhibits some salient trait which takes him out of the sphere of commonplace, and furnishes a new study for the illustration of human nature. The flue dissection of motives shows the cunning hand of a great analyst. Nor is less constructive ability displayed in the synthetic genius with which the most effective elements are combined in a living whole.
In the delicate discrimination of the intricate folds of character, in the marvelous insight with which the essence of special individualities Is disintegrated and reproduced, in the nice sagacity with which the changing forms of good and evil are traced out amidst their blended combinations in the same person, George Eliot is without a rival in the modern school of fiction. Each of her grand creations is the work of a noble inspiration, showing a masterful genius like that of the immortal lights of painting and sculpture. But they may claim even a still higher merit than this. They are the evangels of humane ethics, proclaiming the supremacy of truth to the nations, and the law of integrity and honor to the individual.
—N. Y. Daily Tribune.
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One of the most accomplished and prominent novels of the Victorian era, Middlemarch is an unsurpassed portrait of nineteenth-century English provincial life. Dorothea Brooke is a young woman of fervent ideals who yearns to effect social change yet faces resistance from the society she inhabits. In this epic in a small landscape, Eliot's large cast of precisely delineated characters and the rich tapestry of their stories result in a wise, compassionate, and astute vision of human nature. As Virginia Woolf declared, George Eliot "was one of the first English novelists to discover that men and women think as well as feel, and the discovery was of great artistic moment."
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