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  • George Eliot: A Bibliographical History
  • Gretchen G. Rich
George Eliot: A Bibliographical History. By William Baker and John C. Ross. New Castle, Del.: Oak Knoll Press, 2002. xxxix, 676 pp. $79.00. ISBN 1-58456-069-X.

William Baker and John C. Ross compiled a scholarly history of the nineteenth century's most prolific writer of fiction, Mary Ann Evans Cross, also known as George Eliot. Baker and Ross present their bibliography in historical context, with 145 illustrations of texts published within Eliot's lifetime. With clarity and grace, they chronicle "as complete an account as possible of the earlier British and American editions of the literary works and other writings of George Eliot, from first publication up to the time of her death on 22 December 1880" (v). The introduction clarifies the intent and the scope of the text, giving the reader a detailed description of the methods used.

Without question the work illustrates the depth and intensity of the authors' interest both in Eliot's work and in the process of publication. With meticulous care, the authors present each edition, clearly noting its origin, bindings, paper types and colors, printings, issues, designations, and typography. Their discussion of specific limitations in the scope of the text allows thorough illustration of the era of publication. Using Eliot's letters and those of her partner, George Henry Lewes, Baker and Ross present a view of the publication of the times that stands above the field.

Divided into five sections, the history covers Eliot's major works (A), minor literary works (B), essays and reviews (C), unpublished miscellaneous writings (D), and collections or collected works (E). Appendix 1 "deals with Eliotiana," while appendix 2 discusses notebooks, journals, and letters "published in some form, up to the present day" (ix). Without exception, the sections cover the materials clearly and with meticulous care for the massive amount of published work representing Eliot's genius.

The headnote in each section describes the general material covered, noting specific limitations in scope or definition. Section A, "Major Works," begins with Evans's translations of David Friedrich Strauss's Leben Jesu (Life of Jesus) and Ludwig Feuerbach's Das Wesen des Christentums (The Essence of Christianity) from German, both of which demonstrate the breadth of her scholarship. The third offering of this section deals with her first work of fiction, Scenes of Clerical Life, and carries through with Impressions of Theophrastus Such.

Section B continues the discussion with notes on Eliot's minor works, including Brother Jacob and The Lifted Veil, as well as her verse-drama, The Spanish Gypsy, [End Page 192] and other poetry. In this section the authors describe two forged editions of Eliot's poetry—the republished edition of Brother and Sister sonnets and the reprint of Agatha. Baker and Ross maintain their meticulous notations within this section, although it is shorter than the previous section.

Section C describes those essays and reviews found in established collections of the time. Eliot wrote for the Pall Mall Gazette and the Fortnightly Review, but her works were often unsigned until 1865. While Eliot's major work was predominantly fiction, the essays and reviews noted in this section continued her established scholarly reputation.

Section D includes those writings the authors believed should be separately discussed, including "(I) writings in genres suited to publication but not published within her lifetime; (II) compilations of short extracts from GE's published writings; (III) jointly authored published writings; and (IV) autobiographical writings, not published within her lifetime" (447). The headnote discusses the means used to find and distinguish works published within other works as opposed to those found within notebooks, giving this section a unique flavor.

Section E covers the varied editions of collected works and collections initially published as American or British publications but also discusses some of those editions published in other countries. Baker and Ross carefully note that the editions listed include whole works, not extracts, as cataloged in section D.

The appendices and indices illustrate vast research and the depths to which the authors delved to create this momentous work. Eliot scholars will enjoy working with this text and appreciate the care taken in its...


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