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Bad FormSocial Mistakes and the Nineteenth-Century Novel$
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Kent Puckett

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780195332759

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332759.001.0001

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Looking Good: Style and Its Absence in George Eliot

Looking Good: Style and Its Absence in George Eliot

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(p.83) CHAPTER 3 Looking Good: Style and Its Absence in George Eliot
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Author(s):

Kent Puckett

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195332759.003.0004

George Eliot’s most successful characters tend to show a marked disdain for the fluctuations of fashion. Felix Holt, Dorothea Brooke, Daniel Deronda: all of these are represented as figures who couldn’t care less about what’s in style at any given moment. This chapter works to understand how the novel as a system is able to produce the effect of stylelessness in the novel and at what cost. It argues, in other words, that in all of Eliot’s novels and especially in Middlemarch, the absence of style is the result not only of rigged comparisons with those who have already fallen into mere stylishness, but also of competitions between differently valued narrative techniques. That is, at exactly the moment when we would expect Middlemarch to be its best, we find it passionately caught up in a game it seemed at first unwilling even to play.

Keywords:   George Eliot, style, fashion, narration, narcissism

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