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George Eliot and Victorian Historiography: Imagining the by Neil McCaw

By Neil McCaw

During this new research of George Eliot's fiction, textual makes an attempt to visualize a coherent and unified nationwide previous are noticeable as generating a contradictory imaginative and prescient of Englishness. it's a historiographical nationwide id, developing similar to most important, and conflicting, traits within the Victorian writing of background. The inherent uncertainty because of the shift among diverse perceptions of English heritage leads, in later fiction, to an abandonment of contemporaneous grand narratives. The final result is a heritage that anticipates a extra glossy, radical philosophy of background.

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49 The guiding principle of such ordained, constitutional change, according to Freeman, was the harnessing of both the spirit of democratic Athens and the particular form of Teutonic democracy. 50 However, he emphasizes the way in which this takes on a particularly English conception when found in its truest, most pure form. This principle, once ‘transplanted to a new soil . . 51 What Freeman appears to suggest is that though the constitution originated in continental Europe, it was not until it was transplanted to England that it came to full fruition.

Even Anthony Brundage, whose recent study of J. R. 2 As such the difference is one of methodology and emphasis, but there is no attempt made to show how Green’s broad conclusions contradict those, say, of E. A. Freeman or perhaps William Stubbs. The aim here is to illustrate the extent to which George Eliot’s perception of the English past accorded to, and was shaped by, the view prevalent in Whig historiography. Hence, Eliot’s writing will be cross-referenced with that of Macaulay, Green, Freeman, Stubbs and Acton.

34 The realist author was, according to Eliot, to become a form of moral teacher, a teacher ‘in the sense in which every artist is a teacher – namely, by giving us his higher sensibility as a medium . . 35 By embedding specific historical referents within her fictions, Eliot strove to forge an inescapable link between history and morality; the former as the servant of the latter. The use of exact dates and historical events is, as Leo Bersani has argued, fundamental. ’36 It provides a comprehensible, restricted field of reference through which the sympathies of the readers can be appealed to.

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