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Title: "The extension of our sympathies": George Eliot and her readers in Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda
Authors: Wilcox, Emma Louise
Keywords: Humanities::Literature
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Nanyang Technological University
Source: Wilcox, E. L. (2022). "The extension of our sympathies": George Eliot and her readers in Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda. Master's thesis, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore.
Abstract: This thesis examines to what extent George Eliot’s final novels, Middlemarch (1871-72) and Daniel Deronda (1876) marked a new departure in Eliot’s fiction and how her readers responded to the changes that she made. My research reassesses George Eliot’s model for “the extension of our sympathies” set out in her review of “The Natural History of German Life” (1856) by probing Eliot’s aims, literary strategies and relationship with her readers in these novels. The three-pronged approach of evaluating Eliot’s aims, strategies and reader responses against her model in the “Natural History” review, establishes how in the 1870s in all three aspects there was a confluence of factors that set these novels apart from Eliot’s earlier ones. Through a critical parsing of Eliot’s letters, journals and essays, I demonstrate that Eliot resolved to take a more radical and experimental approach in her pursuit of the right reader in these novels. By close readings of Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, I analyse how Eliot used the device of the narrator to cultivate an open-minded reader, employed epigraphs to guide her readers and modelled reading in the novels to teach her readers the importance of good reading to morally useful lives. As evidenced from the actual readers’ responses, I argue that the serial format and Alexander Main’s book of Sayings, empowered readers and influenced the way that her novels were perceived. Also, that reader responses were impacted in the 1870s by an expanded readership and changes in reading environments as well as by a debate about the novel as a genre that was partly stoked by Eliot’s increasingly intellectual works.
DOI: 10.32657/10356/164244
Schools: School of Humanities 
Rights: This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).
Fulltext Permission: open
Fulltext Availability: With Fulltext
Appears in Collections:SoH Theses

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