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Felix Holt, The Radical
by George Eliot
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George Eliot's work places great importance on setting. In this substantial novel, much background is provided to make the nineteenth-century love triangle come alive. Narrator Nadia May fills the listener in with brisk, breathless cadences, breezing through the lengthy descriptions like a lovable neighborhood gossip. Her crisp accent, pauses between sentences, and mastery of tone help the listener understand the predicament of Esther Lyon, a young woman faced with the choice of two men: Harold Transome and the title character. As she reads the text, May seems to be enjoying it herself, which enables the listener to do the same. L.B.F. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine
Margaret Harris, University of Sydney
"Editors Baker and Womack deploy their expertise in Victorian studies to illuminate this work for the twenty-first century."
Ira Nadel, University of British Columbia
"Useful appendices establish the context for understanding the novel and its background."
When William Blackwood, George Eliot's publisher, first saw the manuscript of Felix Holt in 1866 he could not contain his enthusiasm; in a letter to a friend he described the novel as "a perfect marvel. The time is 1832 just after the passing of the Reform Bill, and surely such a... series of pictures of English Life, manners, and conversation never was drawn. You see and hear the people speaking. Every individual character stands out a distinct figure."
A political radical and a child of the working class, Felix has lost faith in a political system in which candidates never represent the interests of the working class. Harold Transome, the cynical son of wealthy Tory landowners, embraces radical politics for very different reasons. Both Harold and Felix vie for the affections of Esther Lyon, and she must weigh her feelings for them with the social and material goals she has set for herself. Their personal drama unfolds against the broad canvas of social and political upheaval of 1830s England.
This edition is based on the text of the first edition of the novel published in three volumes in 1866, and includes a full introduction, a wide range of appendices including reviews, as well as Eliot's "Address to Working Men, by Felix Holt"; "The Legal Plot of Felix Holt"; and a chronology of Eliot's life and career.
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