Human-animal Elision: A Darwinian Universe in George Eliot's Novels

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This article draws attention to the strange and often surprising way in which Eliot elides human and animal species in Felix Holt (1866) and Middlemarch (1871-72), to ask why she does it, and what its implications might be. I show that while this technique is most obviously a recognition of Darwin’s theories, it is also part of her novels’ commitment to acting as an alternative history of their pre-Reform moment. The article traces the tangles that Darwinian thinking causes for Eliot the humanist. The challenges of historical narration are multiplied exponentially if Eliot’s famous call for interpersonal sympathy is expanded across species boundaries.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87
Number of pages103
JournalNineteenth-Century Contexts
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 27 Nov 2017

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