Abstract

This article argues that George Eliot’s Romola theorizes large-scale sympathy as a way of ethically engaging large groups of individuals outside one’s immediate social ambit. Yet the failed attempts of characters like Savonarola and Tito to imagine the experiences of unknown others suggests that large-scale sympathy estranges the sympathizing subject from the specificity of individual experience. This leads us to see a fault line at the heart of George Eliot’s work, whereby the necessity of imagining the simultaneous experience of others is continually brought into conflict with the impossibility—and the danger—of doing so.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1522-9270
Print ISSN
0039-3657
Pages
pp. 853-874
Launched on MUSE
2014-12-01
Open Access
No
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