Reading for Our Time 'Adam Bede' and 'Middlemarch' Revisited

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-03-05
  • Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
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A masterclass in attentive reading that opens up brilliant insights into two of George Eliot's novels. J. Hillis Miller shows how reading Eliot's great novels Adam Bede and Middlemarch can provide the pleasure and insight unique to reading fiction. The readings focus on famous passages in which the narrator reflects about the story and its characters. What do these passages really say? What role does Eliot's figurative language play in her storytelling? These stories deal with uncovering their characters' ideological illusions. By understanding how to expose these illusions, readers will be able to recognize how easy it is to be taken in by such mistakes, both in the personal and in the political worlds.

Author Biography

J. Hillis Miller is UCI Distinguished Research Professor at the University of California at Irvine. He has published many books and essays on nineteenth-and twentieth-century literature and on literary theory. His most recent books are Theory and the Disappearing Future: On de Man, On Benjamin (co-author), The Conflagration of Community: Fiction Before and After Auschwitz, For Derrida, and The Medium is the Maker. Miller is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Philosophical Society.

Table of Contents

Foreword: Required Reading or "Some of Us, at Least"p. vii
Preludep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Realism Affirmed and Dismantled in Adam Bedep. 1
Adam Bede and Romanticismp. 2
Adam Bede as Paradigmatic Realist Novelp. 6
Challenges to the Paradigm of Realism in Adam Bedep. 12
Four Passages Challenging Mimetic Realismp. 14
What Do These Passages Really Say?p. 21
The Irony of Mistaken Interpretation in Adam Bedep. 23
Hetty Sorrel as Sophist Figurep. 25
Adam Bede as a Story about the Reading of Signs and as a Text to be Readp. 27
Repetition in Adam Bedep. 29
The Community Restoredp. 32
Reading Middlemarch Right for Todayp. 36
Totalization Affirmed and Undermined in Middlemarchp. 36
Versions of Totalizationp. 36
Middlemarch as Pseudo-Historyp. 39
Demystification of the Connection of Narrative and Historyp. 47
Totalizing Metaphors in Middlemarchp. 51
Middlemarch as Fractal Patternp. 56
Middlemarch as Webp. 57
Middlemarch as Streamp. 59
Minutiae in Middlemarchp. 59
Triumph of Metaphorical Totalizationp. 61
The Optical Metaphorp. 62
Creative Seeing as the Will to Power: The Parable of the Pier-Glassp. 64
Human Beings as False Interpretersp. 68
Chapter Seventeen of Adam Bede: Truth-Telling Narrationp. 70
Down with the Art of the Unreal!p. 74
The Language of Realismp. 78
Performative Undecidabilityp. 82
Returning to Middlemarch: Interpretation as Naming and (Mis)Readingp. 87
Interpretation as the Creation of Totalizing Emblemsp. 93
Money as Metaphorp. 96
The Boomerang Effect of the Monetary Metaphorp. 106
Money as Universal Measurep. 111
The Uses of Artp. 114
Conclusions About Metaphorp. 117
O Aristotle!p. 119
The Roar on the Other Side of Silencep. 128
The Ruin of Totalization in a Cascade of Misreadings: A Summary Description of the Ground Gained So Farp. 134
Form as Repetition in Unlikenessp. 138
A Finale in Which Nothing is Finalp. 145
Dorothea's Limitless "Yes"p. 150
Dorothea as Ariadnep. 154
George Eliot's Life and Work as an Uneven Tissue of Ungrounded Repetitionsp. 159
Codap. 166
Notesp. 171
Indexp. 187
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