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Title: Doubtful realism : the changing dynamics of history in George Eliot
Author: McCaw, Neil Alexander
ISNI:       0000 0001 3623 0156
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Winchester
Date of Award: 1996
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George Eliot's realist project was one fundamentally undercut by doubt; doubt both as to her ability to represent a coherent and essentially unified notion of human existence, and also (and ultimately) doubt as to the nature of nineteenthcentury reality itself. The barometer of this, this dissertation argues, is Eliot's increasingly problematic representation of history and the historical process. Towards the end of her literary career, it is argued, the doubt undermining her realism culminated in a loss of faith in the historical process; not just in her ability to accurately recreate history in her novels, but more significantly in the nature of the process of history itself. The oscillation between confidence and doubt prevalent in the novels is seen to manifest itself in a tendency towards a totalising (narrative) conception of the historical process, while at the same time Eliot is seen as acting to destabilise these narratives. This process of depicting and then questioning totality and narrative is viewed as relevant both to Eliot's depiction of human subjectivity and also to her relationship with the Whig narrative of English history; a discourse of nineteenth-century historiography that is implicated as crucial to an appreciation of George Eliot. This is especially significant in terms of her latent nationalism, and particularly in terms of the Orientalism identified as inherent in her representation of Judaism.
Supervisor: Jardine, Mick ; Lovell, Terry Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Literature