Adam Bede's Dutch Realism and the Novelist's Point of View
Philosophy and Literature 36.2 (2013): 423-442.
20 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2013 Last revised: 21 Jul 2013
Date Written: January 26, 2013
In her first novel, Adam Bede (1859), George Eliot offered the first systematic defense of her literary aesthetic. Eliot turned to early modern Dutch painting to justify the quotidian life of the non-elite, and thereby provocatively extended the possibilities of literary representation. Whereas Hegel’s wariness toward the Dutch painterly aesthetic participates in modern philosophy’s quest to transcend the mundane, Eliot’s celebration of the quotidian reveals the sublimity of everyday experience, and helps us overcome the “philosophy-as-epistemology” that, as Richard Rorty famously argued, configures philosophy as a "mirror of nature."
Keywords: novel, fiction, realism, prose, painting, George Eliot, Rorty, pragmatism, Hegel, representation
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