Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Common PrecedentsThe Presentness of the Past in Victorian Law and Fiction$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Ayelet Ben-Yishai

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199937646

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199937646.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 09 April 2020

Precedential Reasoning George Eliot's Middlemarch

Precedential Reasoning George Eliot's Middlemarch

(p.81) Chapter 2 Precedential Reasoning George Eliot's Middlemarch
Common Precedents

Ayelet Ben-Yishai

Oxford University Press

Chapter Two shows how George Eliot's paradigmatic Middlemarch - even though it has no overt legal themes or plots - borrows heavily from precedential structures in an attempt to fashion a common, stable and consistent realism, thus ensuring that change and the new will always remain in the realm of the known. Written just after the Second Reform Act of 1867 and taking place just before the first one of 1832, the novel straddles the history of electoral reform in nineteenth century England. Both George Eliot and her readers already knew the changes that were not only unknown, but also unknowable, to her characters. Eliot thus returns to the time before the Bill, and in the process, smoothes out historical unpredictability. Casting reform as continuity, the narrative of Middlemarch legitimizes this historical change, organically incorporating the reform bill into the ideology of incremental “progress.”

Keywords:   George Eliot, Middlemarch, incrementality, reform, reform bill, progress, victorian fiction, realism, novel history

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .