George Eliot

A Critical Study of her Life, Writings and Philosophy

George Eliot

American Unitarian minister George Willis Cooke (1848–1923) worked for almost thirty years in Unitarian churches across the United States before turning full-time to scholarly pursuits in 1900. Cooke, a voracious reader who was largely self-taught, attended Meadville Theological School in Illinois but never graduated. A radical in theology and politics, he was drawn to the transcendentalist authors and in 1881 published a critical study of the works of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Cooke's George Eliot: A Critical Study of her Life, Writings and Philosophy (1883) probably emerged from those same philosophical impulses. The book was published just after Blind's biography, but Cooke asserts that with a small exception his work was complete when hers appeared; moreover, his study prioritises the act of 'interpreting and criticising [Eliot's] teachings' over the details of her life, and the book's organisation reflects this hierarchy, giving insights into the contemporary reception of George Eliot.

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