Fedalma — ‘The Angel of a Homeless Tribe’: Issues of Religion, Race and Gender in George Eliot’s Poetic Drama, The Spanish Gypsy

  • Joss West-Burnham

Abstract

In 1868 George Eliot published The Spanish Gypsy, a ‘tragic play in blank verse, laid in 1487’.1 The poem in the original Blackwood edition has 28 lines to a page and runs into some 358 pages. It is divided into five separate books. Although the poem is in the main in blank verse it still retains the semblance of a dramatic production, mirroring its original draft inception, begun in 1864–5, laid aside by Eliot and rewritten and amplified in 1867 after a visit to Spain. There are explicit ‘scene-setting’ locations and character changes with ‘stage’ descriptions and ‘sets’ written into the text. The blank verse is largely as dialogue between characters, internal monologues of the principal protagonists with further insertion of longer narratives of geographical topography. Within the verse form of the poem are assimilated various lyrics and songs which are performed by the poet, Juan, and a lame boy, Pablo. These lyrics serve particular dramatic ends in linking the past, present and future events with an especial emotional resonance similar to the function of the chorus within classical literature. Other features of the composition include the rupture of the blank verse with a transition to prose narrative and the occasional use of the epistolary form to act as a device to bring together the various sub-plots within the piece.

Keywords

Migration Amid Assure Half Life Egypt 

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Notes

  1. 1.
    G. Haight, ed., Selections from George Eliot’s Letters (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1985), p. 313.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Some references to The Spanish Gypsy can be found in, for example, R. Ashton, Selected Critical Writings of George Eliot (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992)Google Scholar
  3. K. Brady, George Eliot (London: Macmillan Press, 1992)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. G. Beer, George Eliot (Brighton: Harvester Press, 1986).Google Scholar
  5. G. Haight, George Eliot: A Biography (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1985)Google Scholar
  6. G. Haight, Selections from George Eliot: A Biography (Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1985)Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    F.B. Pinion, ed., A George Eliot Miscellany (London: Macmillan, 1982), p. 127.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    George Eliot, The Spanish Gypsy (London: William Blackwood & Sons, Standard Edition, 1868), Book 1, p. 147.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    G. Potter, Annals of a Publishing House, Vol. 3 (London: William Blackwood & Sons, 1928), p. 376.Google Scholar
  10. 17.
    J. Wiesenfarth, George Eliot: A Writer’s Notebook, 1854–1879 (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1981), p. xxix.Google Scholar
  11. 33.
    Carol Christ, ‘Victorian Masculinity & the Angel in the House’, in M. Vincinus, ed., A Widening Sphere (London: Methuen, 1980), pp. 147 and 149.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joss West-Burnham

There are no affiliations available

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