Middlemarch and Aphorism

This week I’ve been teaching George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1871-2) to my lovely group of first-years. One question that kept coming up centred on the narrator’s voice.

Middlemarch by George Eliot on a bookshelf
Middlemarch, keeping company (appropriately) with our china phrenology head, and (less appropriately) with a waving gold cat.

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‘A Vision’ in Leeds

I’ve been very busy this summer, visiting archives across the UK to look at their holdings of Stevie Smith manuscripts. Most of Smith’s materials are in the University of Tulsa (which I’m hoping to visit next summer), and those in the UK are quite scattered. I don’t mind. It’s a nice excuse to visit different cities.

So first on my list was Leeds, a city which I’d never visited before.

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‘We’ll Lie Down and Go to Sleep’: Stevie Smith’s Holiday

This week, I’ve been working on Stevie Smith’s last novel: The Holiday.

Smith’s very attracted to the idea of the holiday. Everyday reality could be draining. A friend remembered, ‘She was always exhausted, forcing herself to stay erect when she would have liked to lie down.’

So her characters go away, or fantasise about going away.

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