Thursday, June 14, 2012

Author Focus: George Eliot and Giveaway (A Victorian Celebration).

I am really excited to bring you the first in a series of weekly posts highlighting some of my favorite (and soon to be favorite) authors of the Victorian Era. I am hoping that by sharing a little more information, you'll decide to pick up one of their books, or decide to read something by them in the future. Maybe it's the teacher side of me, but I love sharing information about the writers I love. :)

Some of these "Author Focus" posts will also have a corresponding giveaway, so be on the lookout for those opportunities as well.

Today's Author Focus is on a personal favorite of mine-George Eliot. Before I get into some of the details and interesting tidbits of Eliot's life, I need to tell you why I feel such a strong connection to Eliot and her novels.

A few years ago, my grandmother became very sick (she had cancer). Since I was done with college and living at home, I would sometimes take her to her weekly doctor appointments. In the car, we would talk about anything and everything we could think of. She was also a huge reader, so books often came up. She mentioned one day that she wanted something different to read, so I was trying to rack my brain to think of a suggestion.

This was the same summer that I decided to make reading more classics a necessity (I think my rule was for every 3 "fun" books, I had to read a classic). Eliot was one of the first classics writers I discovered on my own, and having just finished Silas Marner, I suggested it to her. I ended up lending her my own copy. She ended up loving it, and I gave her the rest of the Eliot novels I owned (Including The Mill on the Floss, which I hadn't read yet). She loved them all!

Later that fall, she passed away. And now, whenever I look at my bookshelves and see my Eliot novels, I think of her. So Eliot will always be a favorite of mine. She reminds me of the wonderful woman my grandmother was and those weekly trips in the car.

I have been slowly discovering Eliot on my own since that time. I've made it through most of her longer works and just finished a shorter work earlier this week (The Lifted Veil). She is a write I admire, so I'm gong to give you just a little more information about her.

George Eliot's real name was Mary Anne Evans (she also went by Marian). She was born in 1818 and lived to 1880. She was a firecracker of a woman and seemed content with living her life on her own terms. She chose to write under a pen name for a number of reasons. First, she didn't want her work to be judged based on the fact that she was female. Many of her contemporary female writers focused on romance and she felt her novels were more than that. Evans wanted to be taken seriously as a writer, so she felt a male name would help her succeed. Second, she didn't want people poking into her private life and affairs. She wanted to separate herself from society's curiosity, which actually didn't work out for her.

One of the major scandals in her life was her affair and "marriage" to George Lewes. She met Lewes in 1851. Lewes was actually already married, but had an "open marriage" with his wife. When he met Evans/Eliot, they decided to live together and carry on as a married couple. This was okay with his wife, but obviously caused some scandal! It wasn't necessarily an unusual concept, since many of the other Victorians we're reading had affairs as well! I think what surprised most people is that they didn't try to hide their affair, or the fact they were living together while Lewes was legally married to another woman.

When Lewes died in 1878, Evans/Eliot was only alone for a short time. She met John Cross in 1880 and married him (legally). This also caused a bit of a scandal since he was 20 years younger than she was. Their marriage was short lived as she died in late 1880. Because of her lifestyle, she wasn't allowed to be buried in Westminster Abbey, but instead was buried in Highgate Cemetery. However, in 1980, a memorial was placed in Poet's Corner in her honor.

Eliot is most well-known for her depictions of rural life and society, which is one of my favorite aspects of her work. She manages to capture the true nature of her characters-their dreams, desires, and intricacies. I also love that she focuses on those individuals who fall outside the "norm" of society. And while her books can be lengthy, I think they are fast reads!
  • Scenes from Clerical Life (1857)
  • Adam Bede (1859)
  • The Lifted Veil (1859) 
  • The Mill on the Floss (1860)
  • Silas Marner (1861)
  • Romola (1863)
  • Felix Holt, the Radical (1866)
  • Middlemarch (1871-1872)
  • Daniel Deronda (1876)
To honor one of my favorite writers, I'm also giving away a copy of one of her novels to one lucky participant of A Victorian Celebration. To win a new Barnes and Noble edition of her last novel, Daniel Deronda, read the following and comment below:
  • This giveaway will be open to anyone who lives in the United States (My international participants-there is a giveaway just for YOU RIGHT HERE)!
  • You MUST be a participant of A Victorian Celebration to enter.
  • You MUST be 13 years or older
  • You do not have to follow me or subscribe to qualify
  • You MUST leave me your e-mail so that I contact you if you win
  • The winner will have 48 hours to respond or I will pick a new winner.
  • To enter, comment on this post with you intent to be entered.
  • The giveaway will be open until 11:59 PM on Wednesday, June 20, 2012 EST.
Good luck! And tell me what Eliot novels you've read or loved!

24 comments:

  1. I haven't read any George Eliot since college--Adam Bede, Mill on the Floss, Middlemarch. I remember "liking" her writing, but now I don't remember why! But I keep meaning to give her a try.

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    1. I just started Middlemarch yesterday...and remembered exactly how much I love her writing. There is something so familiar in her voice that I just adore.

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  2. Allie you must read Mill on the Floss. It's the only Eliot that I've read but THE ENDING!

    Thank you for sharing your memory of your grandmother. Mine was a very cantankerous woman and our doctor visits were never as pleasant. ;-) But you love your own, right?

    Also, I always want to add an "L" to Eliot's name. Seriously. Why can't there be an "L"? Argh!

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    1. I actually read it a year or two ago (just not when I had lent it to my grandmother). I think i worded that funny up there...but I know! The ending just GOT me. What a wonderful books...

      Haha, I add an L every once in awhile and I have to stare at it before remembering there should only be 1!

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  3. I just bought my first Eliot book this afternoon! The Oxford edition of Mill on the Floss and I'm so psyched to read it!

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    1. It is SO good. You'll love it. :) Promise.

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  4. that's the beauty of books: they bring people together and once they are associated with a special someone, that's when we know they are worth so much more!

    I'm trying the Lifted Veil for this celebration, since it's the only one left in my Eliot pile. Hope it's as good as her more known books...

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    1. Agreed!

      I just read Lifted Veil last week! I liked it, but it was very different from her other work. Still good! Can't wait to see your thoughts!

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  5. I have yet to read anything by Eliot, but I do have Middlemarch and Silas Marner on my Classics Club list, I do look forward to reading them, as you have given such wonderful reviews of them :)

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    1. Oh yes! Both are wonderful! Silas Marner is one of those...warm fuzzy sorts of books. :)

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  6. Allie, you're awesome!

    I love me some George Eliot (The Mill on the Floss is my favorite), but I haven't read this one yet - so I'm glad for the chance. Good luck to all!

    roofbeamreader(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. :)

      I love her too. So, so good. I just started Middlemarch yesterday, and I am already 1/4 of the way through. :) Speaks to how awesome her writing is.

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  7. I love that this author has such a personal meaning for you. Books always mean more to me when I share them with someone I love. I've grown to be a fan of Eliot's work after first reading Silas Marner a couple years ago and then reading Middlemarch last year. The woman could write! I haven't read this one yet thought, so woo hoo for the giveaway!

    avidreader25(at)gmail(dot)com

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    1. She has a very warm style, and I actually can associate that with my grandmother. After reading Mill on the Floss a year or two ago, I wasn't surprised that my grandmother loved it. :)

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  8. I've read Middlemarch twice (most recently finished in March) and Silas Marner which I loved too. I was in a class in which we were to read The Mill on the Floss, but somehow (whether it was the book or the instructor) I just couldn't bring myself to read it. I understand the last half of Floss moves a bit faster than the first half, and I know the ending, but I do need to start over and finish this.

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    1. yes! Yes you do! It is so lovely!

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  9. What a lovely story about your grandmother, Allie. I only met my grandmother on Mom's side. She never liked books, unless they were non-fiction, and I don't think I ever saw her read. But I think of my mama whenever I look at my copy of Gone With the Wind, To Kill a Mockingbird, David Copperfield, and A Christmas Carol. Books, like scents, bring with them memories.

    I'd love to enter this giveaway! I've had my eye on Daniel Deronda for a while. Thank you, Allie! You're being tremendously generous, and I know it's sending out amazing ripples. xx

    (You've got my email address.)

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    1. My other grandmother isn't much of a reader. She's more of a...be a little snarky and tease you kind of a gal. :) But she's SPUNKY for her age and I love her dearly. I have fond memories of her as well. :) And yes, books do bring memories. That's why I won't ever get rid of my old copies of Eliot's books-I know my grandmother touched them.

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  10. Oh, I love George Eliot! I'm reading Middlemarch now. Please enter me and thank you so much for the chance.

    truebookaddictATgmailDOTcom

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    1. I love fellow Eliot lovers! I just started Middlemarch too!

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  11. I've never read any Eliot. Sounds really interesting.

    bzzz61@hotmail.com

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  12. I've never read Eliot, which is so sad. I've always wanted to read Middlemarch though, so it's not like she hasn't been on my TBR list, :)

    I'd love to be entered in the giveaway, and thank you for hosting it! :)

    kimie142002 (at) hotmail (dot) com

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    1. She's so good! You need to fix that. ;)

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