A hermeneutical study of the Midrashic influences of biblical literature on the narrative modes, aesthetics, and ethical concerns in the novels of George Eliot
KeywordsEliot, George, 1819-1880 Criticism and interpretation
Eliot, George, 1819-1880 Language
Eliot, George, 1819-1880 Style
Eliot, George, 1819-1880. Daniel Deronda
Eliot, George, 1819-1880 Felix Holt
Eliot, George, 1819-1880. Adam Bede
Eliot, George, 1819-1880. Mill on the Floss
Midrash -- History and criticism
Midrash -- Hermeneutics
Prophecy in literature
Judaism in literature
Jews in literature
Symbolism in literature
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AbstractThe thesis will examine the influence of Biblical literature on some of the novels of George Eliot. In doing so it will consider the following aspects of Eliot criticism: current theoretical debate about the use of midrash; modes of discourse and narrative style; prophetic language and vision; the influence of Judaism and Jewish exegetical methods on Adam Bede, "The Lifted Veil", The Mill on the Floss, Felix Holt, and Daniel Deronda. Literary critics have, for a long time, been interested in the influence of the Bible and Biblical hermeneutics on literature and the extent to which Biblical narratives and themes are used typologically and allegorically in fiction has been well researched. In this regard, the concept of midrash is not a new one in literary theory. It refers both to a genre of writing and to an ancient Rabbinic method of exegesis. It has, however, been given new meaning by literary critics and theoriticians such as Frank Kermode, Harold Bloom, and Jacques Derrida. In The Genesis of Secrecy, Kermode gives a new nuance to the word and demonstrates how it may be used to read not only Biblical stories but secular literature as well. It is an innovative, self-reflexive, and intricate hermeneutic processs which has been used by scholars such as Geoffrey Hartman and Sanford Budick, editors of Midrash and Literature, a seminal work in this thesis. Eliot's interest in Judaism and her fascination with religion, religious writing, and religious characters are closely connected to her understanding of the novelist's role as an interpreter of stories. In this regard, the prophetic figure as poet, seer, and interpreter of the past, present, and future of society is of special significance. The thesis will investigate Eliot's reinterpretation of this important Biblical type as well as her retelling of Biblical stories. It will attempt to establish the extent to which Eliot's work may be called midrash, and enter the current debate on how and why literary works have been and can be interpreted. It will address the questions of why Eliot, who abjures normative religious faith, has such a profound interest in the Bible, how the Bible serves her creative purposes, why she is interested in Judaism, and to what extent the latter informs and permeates her novels.
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
'The divine voice within us' : the reflective tradition in the novels of Jane Austen and George EliotUniversity of St Andrews; Stabler, Jane; Pimentel, A Rose (2011)This thesis argues that a ‘tradition of moral analysis’ between Jane Austen and George Eliot — a common ground which has been identified by critics from F.R. Leavis to Gillian Beer, but never fully explored — can be illuminated by turning to what this thesis calls ‘the reflective tradition’. In the eighteenth century, ideas about reflection provided a new and influential way of thinking about the human mind; about how we come to know ourselves and the world around us through the mind. The belief in the individual to act as his/her own guide through the cultivation of a reflective mind and attentiveness to a reflective voice emerges across a wide range of discourses. This thesis begins with an examination of reflection in the philosophy, children’s literature, novels, poetry, educational tracts and sermons that would have been known to Austen. It then defines Austen’s development of reflective dynamics by looking at her six major novels; finally, it analyzes Middlemarch to define Eliot’s proximity to this aspect of Austen’s art. The thesis documents Eliot’s reading of Austen through the criticism of G. H. Lewes to support a reading of Eliot’s assimilation of an Austenian attention to mental processes in her novels. Reflection is at the heart of moral life and growth for both novelists. This thesis corrects a tendency in Austen’s reception to focus on the mimetic aspect of her art, thereby overlooking the introspective sense of reflection. It offers new insights into Austen’s and Eliot’s work, and it contributes to an understanding of the development of the realist novel and the ethical dimension in the role of the novel reader.
The Politics of Sympathy: Secularity, Alterity, and Subjectivity in George Eliot's NovelsSimpkins, Scott, 1958-; Holdeman, David; Peters, John G.; Koo, Seung-Pon (University of North Texas, 2009-12)This study examines the practical and political implications of sympathy as a mode of achieving the intercommunicative relationship between the self and the other, emphasizing the significance of subjective agency not simply guided by the imperative category of morality but mainly enacted by a hybrid of discourses through the interaction between the two entities. Scenes of Clerical Life, Eliot's first fictional narrative on illuminating the intertwining relation of religion to secular conditions of life, reveals that the essence of religion is the practice of love between the self and the other derived from sympathy and invoked by their dialogic discourses of confession which enable them to foster the communality, on the grounds that the alterity implicated in the narrative of the other summons and re-historicizes the narrative of the subject's traumatic event in the past. Romola, Eliot's historical novel, highlights the performativity of subject which, on the one hand, locates Romola outside the social frame of domination and appropriation as a way of challenging the universalizing discourses of morality and duty sanctioned by the patriarchal ideology of norms, religion, and marriage. On the other hand, the heroine re-engages herself inside the social structure as a response to other's need for help by substantiating her compassion for others in action. Felix Holt, the Radical, Eliot's political and industrial novel, investigates the limits of moral discourse and instrumental reason. Esther employs her strategy of hybridizing her aesthetic and moral tastes in order to debilitate masculine desires for moral inculcation and material calculation. Esther reinvigorates her subjectivity by simultaneously internalizing and externalizing a hybrid of tastes. In effect, the empowerment of her subjectivity is designed not only to provide others with substantial help from the promptings of her sympathy for them, but also to fulfill her romantic plot of marriage.