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Adam Bede (1859)

by George Eliot

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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3,616582,464 (3.86)253
Adam and Seth Bede work as carpenters in Hayslope. Seth proposes to Dinah Morris, a gifted Methodist preacher. However, she prefers to devote herself to God's work. Meanwhile, Adam Bede woos Dinah's cousin Hetty Sorrel. But she is distracted by the attentions of Captain Arthur Donnithorne. When Adam finds out about Arthur's intentions toward Hetty, he fights Arthur and forces him to leave town.Soon after, Adam proposes to Hetty, who accepts, only to discover she is pregnant with Arthur's child. She runs away to find Arthur but discovers that his regiment has been called away. Distraught, Hetty restrains herself from committing suicide and gives birth in a lodging-house. She then runs off with the infant and buries it in the brush, where it dies. After she is convicted for child-murder, Arthur finally hears the news, and Hetty's commuted sentence (transportation) saves her from the gallows. Some months later, after Dinah comforts Adam during his mother's illness, Adam comes to realize that he loves Dinah. Although reluctant at first, Dinah eventually agrees to marry Adam. Adam Bede addresses profound questions of morality, religion, and the role of women in society, while seeking to establish a new aesthetic for fiction.… (more)
  1. 70
    Tess of the d'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (Heather39)
    Heather39: Both books tell the story of a young, working class woman who enters into a relationship with a gentleman, eventually to her downfall.
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The dialect got a little tiresome to read and, of course, there's an awful lot of religion, but this was generally satisfying. It even got -almost- progressive when questioning the imbalance of blame for Hetty's fall. ( )
  beautifulshell | Aug 27, 2020 |
Wow, George Eliot.

I'm not sure where to start. Quick first impressions:

Reading this actually echoed my experience with [b:Middlemarch|19089|Middlemarch|George Eliot|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1386924110s/19089.jpg|1461747] in some ways: it took about 100 pages for me to commit, 200 pages for me to get really interested, and by the time I hit 300, I was having a hard time putting it down. (Only with Middlemarch, you could probably double those counts and be more accurate...) It takes a long time for her to establish characters and unroll the setting, but if you're willing to be patient, the rest of the story will repay your efforts.

Based on remarks from a former professor, I expected this to be a lot about Methodism. While I'd actually *love* to write an essay on the religious themes in this book (I'm sure it's been done many times over), I was surprised by the directions it ultimately took. Shocked, actually, in spots. I'm still working out what I think about Hetty Sorrel and her story, but the descriptions of her journey to and from Windsor are just so affecting. The sorrow and suspense of chapters 34 through 48 left me drained. I even risked carsickness by reading on the bus; that's how badly I wanted all the unknowns to get resolved.

The themes and setting reminded me of [b:The Small House at Allington|144463|The Small House at Allington|Anthony Trollope|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1336453356s/144463.jpg|35664724], too. I think I tend to like Trollope's characters a bit better. Adam's development is really interesting, though.

Eliot's moralizing passages can be charming and winsome, but other times they just get old (e.g. "In Which the Story Pauses a Little...").

I'm not sure this will go on my To-Read-Again list the way [b:Lorna Doone|73960|Lorna Doone A Romance of Exmoor|R.D. Blackmore|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1299346797s/73960.jpg|2406767] promptly did, but I'd definitely recommend it to fans of the period. ( )
  LudieGrace | Aug 10, 2020 |
Adam Bede by George Eliot was her first novel and was originally published in 1859. The story explores the nature of physical and mental attraction and in this case lead to a tragedy and many misunderstandings before everything was worked out. The author sets her story of love, faith and redemption against a picturesque background of rural England. Unfortunately the rules and morals of society were not a pretty as the setting and there were some that had to pay a very hefty price for taking their attraction to each other too far.

I read the book in installment form and found it to be an engrossing story. Set in a small rural village called Hayslope, a love triangle develops between the beautiful but self-absorbed Hetty Sorrel, her suitor, the stalwart Adam Bede and the young squire who seduces her. To complicate the story further, we have Adam’s brother Seth, who loves Dinah Morris, Hetty’s cousin, a virtuous and beautiful Methodist lay preacher. Dinah does not wish to give up her preaching for Seth, but she does have feelings for his brother, Adam.

I liked this story but was never overly fond of Adam or Dinah. My sympathies lay much more with the other characters and in particular, Hetty, who really had nowhere to turn and no one to help her. I found Dinah, with her holier-than-thou attitude, rather a cold fish. However, the author enhances the story with rich details, wonderful writing and a wide variety of characters making Adam Bede a very good reading experience. ( )
  DeltaQueen50 | Jul 9, 2019 |
I consider this one of the most underrated novels of the 19th century, never mind of George Eliot, and I am surprised it is not more widely known. Perhaps it is because the selective reader doesn't go further than Middlemarch, while keener George Eliot fans might also enjoy Silas Marner. I have to admit I fell in this category: this is my third George Eliot and it has convinced me to read her other major works.

Its relative obscurity may also be because similar themes are addressed less gently by Thomas Hardy's more popular Tess of the D'Urbervilles (1891), of which Adam Bede (1859) is a precursor. Having read Adam Bede, I would love to know what influence, if any, George Eliot had on Hardy's later works. [Apparently, this was the subject of a 1903 American thesis.] Indeed, in many ways George Eliot was a rebel just like Thomas Hardy in challenging mores of the age. But she avoids the irrepressible gloominess of Hardy's works.

The plot is single threaded and revolves around a few characters: brothers Adam and Seth; Hetty and Dinah, relations of the Poysers; and the hier Arthur Donnithorne. All her characters are painted vividly, often with wit and humour. Take this example:

"On a front view it appeared to consist principally of two spheres, bearing about the same relation to each other as the earth and the moon: that is to say, the lower sphere might be said, at a rough guess, to be thirteen times larger than the upper, which naturally performed the function of a mere satellite and tributary."

The characters aren't ever-changing and you won't find many cliffhangers. Yet I can only see the straightforwardness of the plot and constancy of characters as aspects to enjoy. There are characters and feelings you can relate to; and, as much as George Eliot analyses the emotions she portrays, I am pleasantly surprised by her lack of criticism - until I had read a bit about her own life, ostracised from society as she was. George Eliot was a scholar, but writes skillfully on ideas accessible to anyone:

"Family likeness has often a deep sadness in it. Nature, that great tragic dramatist, knits us together by bone and muscle, and divides us by the subtler web of our brains; blends yearning and repulsion; and ties us by our heartstrings to the beings that jar us at every movement."

There is one chapter on Hetty later in the novel I will never forget, but I won't spoil it for potential readers. As ever, George Eliot's writing is beautiful. Some of her metaphors and descriptions on life and hardship are striking. I took note of a couple:

"No: people who love downy peaches are apt not to think of the stone, and sometimes jar their teeth terribly against it."

"The beginning of hardship is like the first taste of bitter food—it seems for a moment unbearable; yet, if there is nothing else to satisfy our hunger, we take another bite and find it possible to go on."

The structure of the novel is straightforward. Each chapter represents a scene. Scanning through the list of chapter names after reading the novel is in itself uplifting through the memories evoked. I can imagine a picture encapsulating each of the chapters in this novel, but that's an idea for a future edition when I hope this novel attracts the popularity it so richly deserves. ( )
2 vote jigarpatel | Feb 27, 2019 |
'Adam Bede' was wonderful. It was lush and evocative of the late 18th century and intensely psychological in a way I wasn't expecting at all. In 19th century literature it is so easy to lose sight of how most people lived, spending so much time with the gentry and high-stakes players of the era, with "common people" being Dickens caricatures, however lovingly drawn, and background noise.

I have been holding an unfair grudge against George Eliot for all the wrong reasons. It's not her fault the professor who assigned 'Middlemarch' was the worst of the breed - popular because of incompetence - and made an environment in which it was impossible for me to appreciate the subtlety of her craft.

The core plot is simple - studly rough man loves dairy maid, dairy maid loves local rich dandy, and scene. The characters rise above and beyond their archetypes, however, and their reasons and justifications - especially Arthur's - are deftly treated. Meanwhile, Eliot has drawn a whole community from life. We spend the most time with the Bedes and the Poysers, but the joys and rivalries of small town life and a whole network of people that can only form over a lifetime seems effortlessly to appear on the page. I admire Trollope's Barchester novels for its community of Anglican clergy, but there is something inhibited about them, polite, never comfortable with one another. Which might be true of the Anglican clergy, I suppose I can't fault Trollope yet. But I can't believe in that discomfort in 'Adam Bede'. These characters were at home, which makes events late in the book that much more upsetting. I won't say more about it. Instead -- the green of it! I loved the pastoral, blessed quality the land had about it. The narrator and the inhabitants themselves comment on the beauty of their own spot in England. I didn't need to be told this was written after the Industrial Revolution had made a large mark on England, Eliot not only romanticizes and celebrates country life, she practically canonizes it. The book is full to overflowing with beautiful prose about gardens, orchards, the details of the dairy and where the platters are hung in the kitchen.

An excellent start to my reappraisal of George Eliot. Going in order, I'll pick up 'The Mill on the Floss' ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
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» Add other authors (46 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Eliot, Georgeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Busken Huet-van der Tholl, Anna DorotheaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dahl, CurtisForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gibson, FloNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gill, StephenEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hill, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Howe, W. D.Editorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Israëls, JozefIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
May, NadiaNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Reynolds, MargaretEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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With a single drop of ink for a mirror, the Egyptian sorceror undertakes to reveal to any chance comer far-reaching visions of the past.
When Marian Evans left her native Warwickshire in 1851 for London to assist John Chapman as editor and write for the Westminster Review, she took with her the memory of people and places that appear, transformed, in the fiction published under her pseudonym 'George Eliot'. (Introduction)
It is near the end of June, in 1807. (Epilogue)
The germ of 'Adam Bede' was an anecdote told me by my Methodist Aunt Samuel (the wife of my Father's younger brother): an anecdote from her own experience. (Appendix 1: George Eliot's History of Adam Bede)
At the Lent Assizes for the Town of Nottingham, held on Thursday, March 11, 1802, before the Hon. Sir Robert Graham, Knt. one of the Barons of his Majesty's Court of Exchequer, Mary Voce, aged 24, wife of ---Voce, bricklayer, was indicted for the willful murder of her daughter, Elizabeth Voce, an infant, in the parish of St. Mary, in the town of Nottingham, by administering a certain poisonous substance, called arsenic, mized in water in a tea-cup, to the said Elizabeth Voce, of which she languished a few hours in extreme agony, and then expired. (Appendix 2)
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What a look of yearning love it was that the mild grey eyes turned on the strong dark-eyed man!
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Adam and Seth Bede work as carpenters in Hayslope. Seth proposes to Dinah Morris, a gifted Methodist preacher. However, she prefers to devote herself to God's work. Meanwhile, Adam Bede woos Dinah's cousin Hetty Sorrel. But she is distracted by the attentions of Captain Arthur Donnithorne. When Adam finds out about Arthur's intentions toward Hetty, he fights Arthur and forces him to leave town.Soon after, Adam proposes to Hetty, who accepts, only to discover she is pregnant with Arthur's child. She runs away to find Arthur but discovers that his regiment has been called away. Distraught, Hetty restrains herself from committing suicide and gives birth in a lodging-house. She then runs off with the infant and buries it in the brush, where it dies. After she is convicted for child-murder, Arthur finally hears the news, and Hetty's commuted sentence (transportation) saves her from the gallows. Some months later, after Dinah comforts Adam during his mother's illness, Adam comes to realize that he loves Dinah. Although reluctant at first, Dinah eventually agrees to marry Adam. Adam Bede addresses profound questions of morality, religion, and the role of women in society, while seeking to establish a new aesthetic for fiction.

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Penguin Australia

An edition of this book was published by Penguin Australia.

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Tantor Media

2 editions of this book were published by Tantor Media.

Editions: 140010212X, 1400108942

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