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Novel ScienceFiction and the Invention of Nineteenth-Century Geology$
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Adelene Buckland

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226079684

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226923635.001.0001

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Eliot’s Whispering Stones

Eliot’s Whispering Stones

(p.221) Chapter Six Eliot’s Whispering Stones
Novel Science

Adelene Buckland

University of Chicago Press

George Eliot's novels were criticised for her models of geological change. Her early works, Scenes of Clerical Life (1857) and Adam Bede (1859) carried in them the narrative method of a “natural historian” whose chief aim was to label and classify physical reality. Her later novels, Middlemarch (1872) and Daniel Deronda (1876) would show her scientific method taking on the role of an active scientific experimenter, foregrounding her own creative role in the “reality” she presented. Eliot, throughout her career, experimented with ways in which plot might structure and distort the perception of “reality” that her character experienced or that which her novels attempted to reveal to their readers. This chapter explores the history of reception and criticism that emerged around Eliot's work and its contribution to the science of geology.

Keywords:   geological change, George Eliot, Scenes of Clerical Life, Adam Bede, natural history, physical reality, Middlemarch, Daniel Deronda

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