Intriguing, often brilliant ... Ultimately, Carlisle’s thoughtful, comprehensive account of this particular liaison exquisitely probes the complex, thorny, and fascinating question: How much does our choice of partner determine who we ultimately become?
Eliot’s imaginative attraction to violently cruel and thwarting marriages, in contrast with her personal investment in a trustful, lasting intimacy, is a fascinating paradox that Clare Carlisle’s interesting book sets out to investigate ... Carlisle is more fascinated by the disconnect between the painful marriages in the novels and the devoted relationship with Lewes ... As a biographer Carlisle is careful and ruminative rather than trailblazing or defensive. She doesn’t go in for blaming and shaming but picks her way delicately through the story.
Fascinating ... Carlisle approaches Eliot’s life and art as a quest to go beyond the most entrenched of marriage plots: the courtship-centered drama, with its happily-ever-after closure ... Carlisle is an empathetic and ambitious interpreter. She delves beneath the surface of marriage in Eliot’s novels, finding a world that hums with big questions.
The paradoxical nature of Eliot’s personality—forthright and elliptical, realistic and spiritual, passionate and analytical—emerges and then recedes, leaving us captivated ... With formidable erudition and insight, this sympathetic author paints her own memorable portrait of the soft-spoken woman who quietly revolutionized the English novel—and who scandalized society by never marrying her husband.
Excellent ... Carlisle’s portrait draws on a vast field of material: diaries and letters written by both Eliot and Lewes; Eliot’s notebooks documenting her creative process; the novels themselves, of course, as well as critical responses to them. There are brief and illuminating forays into matters such as the development of clerical marriage in the Church of England, literary expressions of Victorian feminism ... Thorough research and insight.
Does not tell us much about her philosophy of anything, much less her philosophy of love. The book’s broader claims are largely platitudes ... Luckily, Carlisle’s latest fares better as a work of partial biography than as a work of philosophy ... Eliot aficionados will learn little that they do not know already. That keenly private treasure remains safely behind the curtain after all.
Thrilling ... With great skill and delicacy she has filleted details from Eliot’s own life, read closely into her wonderful novels and, most importantly, considered the wider philosophical background in which she was operating.
Wonderful ... Finally, Eliot has got the biographer she deserves, namely an ardent and eloquent feminist philosopher who shows us how and why Eliot’s books...are as philosophically profound as any treatise written by a man.
Carlisle’s magisterial book has many facets to it: biographical, philosophical, literary ... Compelling ... A splendid addition to the Eliot biographical canon. For me, the unusually negative portrait of Lewes is sometimes less than convincing, reliant more on speculation and interpretation than evidence, but this is a small caveat. It’s a book that triumphantly enlarges our understanding of its subject, and of her time.
Perceptive and suggestive ... There are broader issues it doesn’t address, and it’s frustrating that... Carlisle refuses to speculate as to whether Eliot physically consummated her love for either of her husbands ... Yet Carlisle has produced a richly considered study that brings one close to the heart and mind of a great writer and a wise soul.
Offers no new information on a life already so well mined, but explores these conflicts, and Eliot’s relationship with Lewes, in a philosophical context ... Carlisle’s depiction of Eliot and Lewes’s days are quietly moving ... Carlisle explores how questions of matrimony illuminated Eliot’s fiction.
The Marriage Question: George Eliot’s Double Life is Carlisle suggesting, via Eliot, that marriage is perhaps the most ambitious thing an individual might do ... Carlisle’s book is a treatment of marriage as a philosophical subject.
A richly textured and absorbing biographical study ... Carlisle moves from novel to novel, subjecting them to the exacting lens of philosophy ... Carlisle’s intense, empathetic study reflects Eliot back to us, echoes her and rises up to meet her in order to give Eliot her philosophical due.
Carlisle has waded deep into the correspondence, novels, and journals, as well as Eliot criticism old and new ... Carlisle brings a frank realism to the ideology of heterosexual marriage under modern capitalism, as when discussing Eliot’s own squeamishness about writing and finances ... The Marriage Question lands on a grown-up (if not quite grudging) respect for the sometimes vicious, sometimes enabling, sometimes joyful constraints of the institutions one inherits.
The Marriage Question really sparkles when Carlisle uses these limited details about Eliot’s private life to inspire her own readings of Eliot’s novels ... Carlisle’s approach of highlighting how themes in Eliot’s novels reflected Eliot’s own preoccupations allows readers to gain insight into the novels. More interestingly, it illustrates George Eliot’s approach to her work.
The tumultuous love lives of some of English literature's most memorable heroines are examined through a dazzling intellectual prism by Clare Carlisle ... Carlisle is...a gifted storyteller. Carlisle's inquiry into Eliot's intimate relationships with friends and lovers mirrors Eliot's own psychologically astute interrogation of her characters' 'inner lives' ... Eloquent, elegant.
Carlisle explores, in depth, themes of philosophy and marriage in Eliot’s art and life, highlighting dynamics like desire and morality, in a book that combines biography, philosophy, history, and literary interpretation. A listing of illustrations, which includes rare copies of photographs and manuscripts, is a bonus ... An intriguing study of Eliot’s complex and ambiguous life and work as it relates to the institution of marriage. Ideal for literary and philosophy scholars.