Title

Utopian Socialism, Women's Emancipation, and the Origins of Middlemarch

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Publication Title

English Literary History

Volume Number

78

Issue Number

3

DOI

10.1353/elh.2011.0020

Abstract

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.

ISSN

0013-8304

First Page

715

Last Page

739

Link Out URL

https://doi.org/10.1353/elh.2011.0020

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