George Eliot: Whole soul

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The girl who would become George Eliot began her professional writing life with a poem bidding farewell to all books but the Bible. How did a young Christian poet become the great realist novelist whose commitment to religious freethinking made her so iconoclastic that she could not be buried in in Westminster Abbey? Memorialized there today by a stone lain in the Poets' Corner in 1980, George Eliot wrote herself and her fellow Victorians through turbulent decades of moral and historical doubt in religious orthodoxy, alongside the unrelenting need to articulate a compelling modern faith in its place. Unafraid to confront the most difficult existential questions of her time, George Eliot wrote immensely popular novels that wrestled with problems whose hold has barely lessened in the last 150 years: the pervasiveness of human suffering and the injustice of its measures; the tension between fulfilling our ethical obligations to others and pursuing our own well-being; the impetus to act virtuously in this world without any guarantee of reward, and the need to make some "religion" in life, something beyond our own immediate, fluctuating desires. In this new account of George Eliot's spiritual life, George Eliot: Whole Soul, Ilana Blumberg reveals to us a writer who did not simply lose her faith once and for all on her way to becoming an adult, but devoted the full span of her career to imagining a wide religious sensibility that could inform personal and social life. As we range among Eliot's letters, essays, translations, poetry, and novels, we encounter here a writer whose extraordinary art and intellect offer us company, still today, in the search for modern meaning.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages232
ISBN (Electronic)9780191937415
ISBN (Print)9780192845092
StatePublished - 21 Mar 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Ilana M. Blumberg 2024. All rights reserved.


  • George Eliot
  • Victorian religion
  • realist novel
  • Religion and literature
  • Victorian freethinking
  • Victorian intellectuals
  • women writers
  • Victorian literature
  • secular humanism
  • Postsecularism


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