A Woman of Contradictions: The Life of George Eliot

Ina Taylor, Author William Morrow & Company $19.95 (255p) ISBN 978-0-688-09405-8
Claiming that her perusal of primary sources has ``yielded a welter of new information and exploded many myths,'' Taylor ( Victorian Sisters ) here promises to reveal the ``real woman'' behind the ``smokescreen'' erected by previous biographers around the 19th-century British novelist. (The chief villain cited is John Cross, Eliot's husband and first biographer.) But in Taylor's eagerness to prove Eliot less stodgy than rumored--she ``found herself the object of lesbian affection, yet loved men and experienced several love affairs before she finally married''--the biographer fails to make clear just how new is her information. She takes Gordon Haight ( George Eliot ) to task for his reliance on Cross, yet herself refers frequently to Haight's edition of Eliot's letters, not clarifying adequately how her conclusions differ from his. The volume's brevity also works against Taylor's purposes; she skims over her subject's life, too often piquing the reader's curiosity (e.g., implicating Cross in Eliot's death) without fully developing her thesis. A less than graceful style further mars her effort. Photos not seen by PW. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
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