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The philosophy of George Eliot

She is one of England’s greatest novelists, but the author of Middlemarch also deserves to be remembered as one of the country’s finest philosophers

By Clare Carlisle   March 2020

George Eliot's philosophy is central to her fiction. Image: CSU archives/ Everett Collection/Bridgeman Images

“My mind presents an assemblage of disjointed specimens from history, ancient and modern; scraps of poetry picked up from Shakespeare, Cowper, Wordsworth and Milton; newspaper topics; morsels of Addison and Bacon, Latin verbs, geometry, entomology and chemistry, reviews and metaphysics—all arrested and petrified and smothered by the fast-thickening, everyday accession of actual events, relative anxieties, and household cares and vexations.” So wrote Mary Ann Evans in 1839, in a letter to her friend Maria…

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