Advertisement

Eliot and the Reinterpretation of the Ethical

  • K. M. Newton
Chapter

Abstract

This chapter calls into question the still widely held view that her novels promote a particular moral agenda and indulge in ‘preaching’ and argues that such views are untenable. Critical scrutiny of Middlemarch in particular strongly suggests there is no commitment to any moral system and that she anticipates Bernard Williams’s moral philosophy with its emphasis on ‘the ethical’ rather than on morality as a set of principles or a system. Also Jacques Derrida’s exploration of the relation between ethics and undecidability is useful in providing insight into the ethical aspect of Eliot’s fiction. The critical emphasis in the chapter is on detailed readings of certain scenes, especially involving choices and dilemmas.

Bibliography

  1. Carol Christ, ‘Aggression and Providential Death in George Liot’s Fiction’, Novel 9 (1975–1976): 130–140.Google Scholar
  2. Jacques Derrida, ‘Hospitality, Justice and Responsibility: A Dialogue with Jacques Derrida’, in Questioning Ethics: Contemporary Debates in Philosophy, eds. Richard Kearney and Mark Dooley (London: Routledge, 1999).Google Scholar
  3. Graham Handley, Middlemarch (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1985).Google Scholar
  4. T. H. Irwin, ‘Sympathy and the Basis of Morality’, in A Companion to George Eliot, eds. Amanda Anderson and Harry S. Shaw (Oxford: Wiley Blackwell, 2016).Google Scholar
  5. Andrew Latus, ‘Moral Luck’, in Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Google Scholar
  6. George Levine, ‘Introduction: George Eliot and the Art of Realism’, in The Cambridge Companion to George Eliot, ed. George Levine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001), 1–19.Google Scholar
  7. Friedrich Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols and The Anti-Christ, trans. R. J. Hollingdale (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968).Google Scholar
  8. Jack Reynolds, ‘Jacques Derrida’, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy.Google Scholar
  9. Daniel R. Schwarz, The Humanistic Heritage: Critical Theories of the English Novel from James to Hillis Miller (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1989).Google Scholar
  10. Bernard Williams, Moral Luck: Philosophical Papers 1973–80 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981).Google Scholar
  11. ———, Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. M. Newton
    • 1
  1. 1.University of DundeeDundeeUK

Personalised recommendations