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Title: The beginnings of George Eliot : the creative process of the early fiction
Author: Corner, J.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 1998
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My dissertation aims to determine the means by which Marian Evans began to write fiction. It argues that her beginnings were achieved through a process of self-reinvention, from which she emerged as George Eliot, the artistic identity for which she became universally known. My thesis is that Marian Evans was only aware of, and therefore able to present, her self-reinvention while actively engaged in that process. The fiction is therefore read for its expression of the shifts and schisms in her identity. In the light of the seemingly unbridgeable distance between the limited voice of Marian Evans' letters, diaries and essays, and the breadth of sympathy and insight found in George Eliot's fiction, this process of self-reinvention is analysed for its capacity to realise large reserves of latent potential. I employ a varied psychoanalytic methodology, drawing principally upon the theories of Melanie Klein and D.W. Winnicott, to demonstrate that George Eliot's artistic beginnings were achieved through challenges to, or circumventions of, the super-ego. The super-ego is represented in her fiction by Nemesis, the goddess of retribution. Paradoxically, therefore, my dissertation refigures scenes of traditional closure as moments of beginning. My reinterpretation does not sever George Eliot from all previous understandings. Through a literary history of Nemesis I establish that this feature is identified traditionally with necessity. I show that necessity was a transitional concept in the nineteenth-century, viewed either as an absolute bond between cause and effect, or as open to the subjectivity of the imagination. I argue that it is the dialectic between Nemesis as a lawful, moral figure and Nemesis as an eruptive, revolutionary figure, which energises George Eliot's fiction. The discordance between the conscious agenda of the fiction and its creative process is charted through the early fiction.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available