George Eliot and the 'Expressiveness of Opera'

da Sousa Correa, Delia (2012). George Eliot and the 'Expressiveness of Opera'. Forum for Modern Language Studies, 48(2) pp. 164–177.




At a time when opera, like many musical genres, drew inspiration from the internalised, non-dramatic form of the novel, the novel was also drawing very profitably on opera. Operatic allusion and formal parallels with opera play an interesting role in George Eliot’s development of the realist novel. The emphasis in this essay is on what opera offers Eliot as a writer and on what it offered, and still offers, to her readers. I also consider the conceptions of ‘opera’ that have informed critical assessments of Eliot’s work. The three works that I discuss in this light are the early novella Mr Gilfil’s Love Story (1857), The Mill on the Floss (1860) and Eliot’s final novel, Daniel Deronda (1872).

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