“These Things Are a Parable”: Natural History Metaphors and Audience in Felix Holt (1866)

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It is apparent that George Eliot’s novels were heavily engaged with development in natural history; her metaphors made use of and reflected on mid-1800s discussions of evolution and taxonomy. In this essay, research in science history and Eliot studies leads to evidence of how, in Felix Holt (1866), Eliot was influenced by evolutionary scientists, particularly Darwin and Huxley, in her fictional examination of how individuals struggle within a small isolated society. At the same time, Eliot’s discussion of the strengths and weakness of metaphors was also a direct engagement with Darwin and Huxley on the topic of how metaphors should be used in scientific writings.


This book chapter was originally published in George Eliot: Interdisciplinary Essays. The full-text article from the publisher can be found here.

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© The Author(s) 2019