A Dialogue of Forms: The Display of Thinking in George Eliot’s ‘Poetry and Prose, From the Notebook of an Eccentric’ and Impressions of Theophrastus Such

Mackenzie, Hazel (2014) A Dialogue of Forms: The Display of Thinking in George Eliot’s ‘Poetry and Prose, From the Notebook of an Eccentric’ and Impressions of Theophrastus Such. Prose Studies, 36 (2). pp. 117-129. ISSN 0144-0357

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Official URL: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0144035...

Abstract

This article rereads George Eliot's Impressions of Theophrastus Such in the light of her early series of journalism “Poetry and Prose, from the Notebook of an Eccentric.” Rather than viewing these texts as experimental deviations, this article casts these texts as part of larger patterns evident in Eliot's canon as a whole. Building on recent studies on Eliot and Victorian perfectionism, it argues that Eliot united an appreciation for complex and diverse configurations of form with her interest in individual development and the extension of sympathy. In these texts, we can see a reflection of Eliot's interest in the attempt to capture and display human thinking processes in order to advance her project of extending the sympathies of her readership. It examines Eliot's organicist views on form and consciousness and suggests that these are key to making sense of the apparently “aberrant” nature of these texts. Eliot, influenced by Ludwig Feuerbach, held to the idea that just as the highest form of organicism was the most complex, so also was the highest form of art the most structurally varied and intricate. From this viewpoint, the texts are eminently successful. Moreover, they point the way to achieving a fuller understanding of the apparent problematics of form that have concerned critics in regard to Eliot's better-known fictional works since their original publication.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: School of Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Literature
Depositing User: Hazel Mackenzie
Date Deposited: 01 Feb 2016 12:57
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2016 00:15
URI: http://bear.buckingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/98

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