Abstract

Abstract:

In 1856, George Eliot completed the first English translation of Spinoza’s Ethics. This article proposes a philosophical and historical framing of the affinity between the two authors that took shape through Eliot’s close encounter with Spinoza’s text. This framing is structured by two interlinked concepts: repetition and relationality. For both authors, repetition is closely connected to form—literary form and intellectual formation —and thus their uses of textual repetition are informed by their understandings of psychological repetition. Moreover, for both authors form is essentially relational: neither Spinoza nor Eliot conceive of human beings as separate, autonomous selves. Having outlined a new formalist reading of Ethics, I turn to Eliot’s 1855 essay “The Natural History of German Life” and her 1868 “Notes on Form in Art,” texts that distill and illuminate the Spinozist conceptions of repetition and relationality that inform her fictional works.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-2052
Print ISSN
0042-5222
Pages
pp. 590-615
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-24
Open Access
No
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