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George Eliot (Mary Ann Evans)

The Lifted Veil

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The Lifted Veil (1859) is George Eliot’s only foray into the fantastic. Although it is considered to be “a significant part of the Victorian tradition of horror fiction,” in the same category as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde or Dracula, there is little action in Eliot’s novella, and the horror is muted. This horror, though, does not have a source that can be defeated, or escaped from – it is the horror brought on by the inadequacy of our minds, and the inability to love. The only thing that distinguishes Latimer, the unlucky protagonist and first person narrator of this tale, from the rest of us is that he is more acutely aware of these faults – of the inadequacies of those around him, that is, not of his own.


About the Author

George Eliot was the pen name under which the English novelist, poet, journalist, essayist, editor, translator and literary critic Mary Ann Evans published her fiction. Evans, born 1819, began writing fiction relatively late in her career – she published her first story in 1857 and her first complete novel in 1859, after she had criticized in 1856 the “trivial and ridiculous plots” of contemporary fiction by female writers in an essay titled Silly Novels by Lady Novelists.

Among other literary works George Eliot has written seven novels, of which Middlemarch (1871–72) has been voted “the greatest British novel of all time” in a BBC poll in 2015. Her novels are known for their sophisticated character portraits and psychological insights, and (with the exception of Romola, which is set in fifteenth century Italy) for their realistic depictions of contemporary rural societies; in her novels she shows her sympathies for social outsiders, and discusses social and political issues.

From 1854 until his death in 1878 Mary Ann Evans lived with the philosopher and critic George Henry Lewes, even though he remained married to Agnes Jervis; their relationship was close and happy. Two years after Lewes’s death she married John Cross, a man 20 years her junior, who had been the couple’s closest friend. Only seven months after the wedding she died in December 1880. George Eliot is buried in Highgate Cemetery, London, in the area reserved for societal outcasts, religious dissenters and agnostics, next to her love George Henry Lewes.


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