Utopian Socialism, Women's Emancipation, and the Origins of Middlemarch
English Literary History
This essay seeks to illuminate two perennial questions of George Eliot scholarship--the origins of Middlemarch, and Eliot's attitude toward the "Woman Question"--by exploring the novel's connections with utopian socialism. By tracing allusions to pre-Marxian socialism in the novel and in Eliot's diary and notebooks, I demonstrate that it was crucial to the genesis, and is fundamental to the structure, of Middlemarch. Because the utopian socialists considered women's emancipation the crux of social renovation, I argue that Eliot's appropriation of their doctrines quietly aligns her with the proto-feminism of the contemporaneous women's suffrage movement.
Allison, Mark, "Utopian Socialism, Women's Emancipation, and the Origins of Middlemarch" (2011). English Faculty Work. 8.
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