"A Woman Men Could More than Love": Transfiguring the Unlovely in George Eliot (1819-1880)
Biographical Misrepresentations of British Women Writers, edited by Brenda Ayres. Pages 249-264.
Recent biographies contextualize George Eliot among men, submerging her intellectual sovereignty to emphasize the scandals attached to her extramarital union with George Henry Lewes and her later, equally controversial marriage to the much younger John Cross. Historically, biographers have grappled unsuccessfully with the troubling question of Eliot’s creative autonomy, instead highlighting her emotional dependency and serial sexual affairs. Eliot’s intellectual and sexual identities remain entangled, a problem further complicated by her lack of conventional female beauty. Representing the scandalous aspects of Eliot’s sexuality and circumscribing her genius by asserting her emotional dependence, recent biographies of George Eliot diminish her artistic accomplishments as a novelist gifted with intellectual force and the strength to act on her own convictions.
Cantwell N. M. (2017). “A woman whom men could more than love”: Transfiguring the unlovely in George Eliot (1819–1880). In: B. Ayres (Ed.), Biographical misrepresentations of British women writers: A hall of mirrors and the long nineteenth century (pp. 249-264). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-56750-1_14