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What were the contributions made by George Eliot to the development of English novel?

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NeenaHanif | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 9, 2009 at 3:20 AM via web

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What were the contributions made by George Eliot to the development of English novel?

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Karen P.L. Hardison | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted May 4, 2010 at 6:51 AM (Answer #1)

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According to George Elliot's own statements, one of her contributions to the English novel was to depict common life with a sympathetic rendering, in the same vein as Dutch painters, written in a style of intellectual restraint, which might be contrasted to the earlier emotional  writing of such as Anne Radcliffe. She aimed, in sympathy with Wordsworth's earlier aims, to put herself on the level of her characters, to see and experience things, to talk just in the same way they would do.

Elliot's narratorial voice differs from previous writer's voices in that while she is present in the narrator's voice as an interested spectator, she attempts to keep herself distinct from her drama and from her characters. This can be contrasted, for example, to Jane Austen whose narratorial voice participates with her characters and their story, for instance, in the way she occasionally narrates their dialogue without benefit of quotation marks. It is said by Wilbur Lucius Cross that Elliot finished the work begun by Wordsworth: While Wordsworth captured the pathos of common people, Elliot mingled the pathos with the humor of common people.

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