Magazine July 1, 2021, Issue

George Eliot: An Extraordinary Victorian

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As some dismal signs of Ameri­can women’s condition — the creeped-out smile squeezed between a governor’s hands, my ex-professional neighbor loping around an Amazon ware­house, the Asian women slain in Georgia — keep flashing at me, I wonder what George Eliot (1819–1880) would have thought of it all.

Eliot was born with the name Mary Anne Evans, and with off-putting looks and a restless, powerful brain. Studying on the side as a young woman (she was becoming one of the last true polymaths), she kept house for and nursed her widowed father, who forced her to attend church on the principle

This article appears as “An Extraordinary Victorian” in the July 1, 2021, print edition of National Review.

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Sarah Ruden’s most recent books are the extensively revised second edition of her Aeneid translation and her new translation of the Gospels.

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