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Adam Bede (1859)

by George Eliot

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4,208702,809 (3.85)298
Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Adam Bede follows the lives of a fictional rural community. The life and expectations of the good carpenter Adam Bede are disrupted when the local lord takes liberties below his station and his conscience. The novel is a discussion of class and education and also of religion, with the female Methodist preacher Dinah Morris coming to the fore as the novel progresses.

.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)
George Eliot's first novel. A lot less complex, and easier read than Middlemarch. Adam loves Hetty, Hetty falls for the local squire. Hetty is a silly, very pretty teenage who has a very tragic fate.Dinah Morris is so saintly she doesn't feel like a real woman. ( )
  nx74defiant | Nov 1, 2023 |
This book bears the name of an individual, but at times, it seems misnamed since there are other strong figures, such as Hetty Sorrel and Dinah Morris, on whom the narrative focuses. Still, Adam is a strong character, an example of a genuinely good man. He has faults, but these stem from his highly-principled nature and are softened by suffering.
A key minor character is Mr. Irwine, the local rector. Before writing this novel, Eliot had written a series of stories featuring clergymen (collected in her first book, Scenes of Clerical Life. After reading the first half of the third of these, “Janet’s Repentance,” her publisher, John Blackwood, complained, “When are you going to give us a really good active clergyman, neither absurdly evangelical nor absurdly High Church?” Perhaps that’s what Eliot set out to do when she created Mr. Irwine before the other characters ran away with the tale.
Then again, the core of the plot, the fate of Hetty Sorrel, was related to Eliot by her aunt, so that’s likely to have been the germ of the book from the start. I’ll find out more when I get to the next chapter of Haight’s biography of the author, which I’m reading in sync with Eliot’s books.
Contrasting with Hetty is Dinah, a Methodist lay preacher. It’s harder to create a convincing portrait of a thoroughly good person than one who is flawed, but in Dinah, Eliot draws a second good character alongside Adam. This struck me particularly because Eliot had found and then lost religious faith. Yet Dinah’s fervor is rendered with no trace of irony.
Eliot’s famed psychological acuity is on full display in this book, but at times I wished she explained less and let the plot and dialogue show us more. This is especially so with the self-absorbed Hetty (a forerunner of Rosamunde in Middlemarch). By the time Eliot writes of “a little trivial soul like Hetty’s,” I was impatient, having gotten the point.
To appreciate Eliot, you must also allow time for her detailed descriptions of the countryside, its produce, its seasons, and its dwellers. These depictions are nostalgic without being sentimental. She also has a gift for epigram, for instance, “It is so very rarely that facts hit that nice medium required by our own enlightened opinions and refined taste!”
I became so immersed in the world Eliot shows that I felt I was still in it for hours after finishing the book. This is one hallmark of a great book, one that outweighs the quibbles I’ve noted. ( )
1 vote HenrySt123 | May 18, 2023 |
Title and author: Adam Bede (1859) by George Eliot. Reviewed 4/29/23

Why I picked this book up: I opened this book because it was the first in The Banned Books Compendium: 32 Classic Forbidden Books.

Thoughts: George Eliot is a pen name of Mary Ann Evans, an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She wrote seven novels: Adam Bede, Silas Marner, and others. I did not know George Eliot as a pen name for a female author. I never heard of this book before so for me if was new in multiple ways. Even though it went with the era I didn’t like the language much.

Why I finished this read: This author did a really good job IMO, of creating characters, symbolism, roles, power, a beautiful girl, it starts with flirtation, selfishness, crisis of faith and tragedy. There is a dynamic of characters, desires, decisions, death and legal consequences. I cannot condone the death and probably the reason for it beings banned which contributed to my low star rating .

Stars rating: Although I disagree with the decision in this book. I know millions of babies are aborted in the USA and that’s NOT to saying this book had that. Although the story was well written the decision sickened me and I really do not see that decision made in this book could have been made in my life. I will rate this story at a 1.5 stars. ( )
  DrT | Apr 29, 2023 |
Another Eliot novel I enjoyed just fine, but which didn't come anywhere near the excellence of Middlemarch. Very good, though, in its depiction of rural life, and with some quite funny moments too. ( )
  JBD1 | Jan 26, 2023 |
I'm not a George Elliot fan, I read Middlemarch with my book club and hated it. I had no interest in any of the characters nor where or how they lived. But Adam Bede is different. The characters are engaging and where they live is unpretentious. Most of all there is a strong plot with some real twists. I'm glad my book club choose this book. After Middlemarch I would never have picked this up on my own.

While the title character is Adam Bede and he appears throughout almost all of book the genesis of the story is another character, Hetti or Hester Sorel and her interaction with a young woman preacher, Dinah, who is also her cousin. Adam is The Good Guy, Hetti is the Bad Girl, Dinah is the Good Girl and a fourth major character, Arthur, who seems to be a Good Guy but we eventually learned he's really a Bad Guy. Adam is the strong stoic type who concentrates on working hard and is above it all but has one slight distraction. He eventually decides to take a wife and chooses the young, pretty, self-centered Hetti who is more interested in the coming of age, soon to be lord of the manor, Arthur. Arthur is so much better than the existing landlord, his grandfather, that all, including Adam, can't wait for the young gentleman to replace his aging grandfather. At this point the unusually pretty Dinah appears to comfort any and all who will listen to her. Then the plot thickens.

A brief encounter in the woods between Arthur and Hetti, leads to what appears to be a dalliance on his part but a mind turning event for the seventeen year old Hetti. She convinces herself Arthur will marry her in spite of her being a lowly barely educated commoner and his being an educated aristocrat soon to become lord of the manor. By chance Adam, walking through the woods, sees them kissing. He confronts Arthur, they come to blows. Arthur reluctantly agrees to Adam's demands to write a letter to Hetti saying he's sorry, they can never marry and decides to go off and join his regiment where he's already an officer. Hetti is devastated but decides to hide this from all. Unable to convince her Aunt and Uncle to let her move on she eventually decides her only way out is to agree to marry Adam who has faithfully waited for her to come around. In a misguided attempt to find Arthur she sets off on what she leads all to believe is a trip to assemble things for her wedding. In reality she's running away to find Arthur who she thinks is in Windsor only to find he and his regiment are in Ireland. Yes it's a harrowing trip but that's the least of it. Out of the blue we learn she's was pregnant has had the child and has killed it. Yikes. She's quickly apprehended, tried, convicted and sentenced to be hung. Double yikes. Adam can't believe any of this. She's too pure in his eyes. He quickly realizes Arthur has deceived him and there was more to the dalliance than Arthur had let on. Adam and all the town's people realize the real villain is Arthur. Hetti remains mum throughout her trial and only after Dinah intervenes and stays with her does she confess and repent. Miracle of miracles, at the very last moment, just as Hetti is about to be hung, Arthur appears with a pardon he has somehow obtained for Hetti.

The story goes silent at that point. We never hear anything more about Hetti. Arthur decides to abandon his plans to run the estate his has just become the lord of. Instead he decides to spend his life with his regiment. After a couple of years Adam convinces the marriage averse Dinah to be his wife and they have two happy kids. Unfortunately this is the point where this story becomes less believable. It was Adam's younger brother Seth who had wanted to marry Dinah. She had told him she would never marry anyone as it would interfere with her calling to be preacher. On top of that Adam and Dinah were the only two people who really believed in Hetti. Now Dinah marries the person Hetti was supposed to marry. That seems a stretch. Yes it ties up the loose end, the good guy gets the good girl but what happened to Hetti. We'll never know.

The novel is actually a retelling of a real event. But like Law & Order you can see the underlying story but a lot has been changed to make if a more engaging read. The child killer was not a pretty young thing, she was hung, the guy was never a good guy to begin with and her name was not Hester but Mary. The subplot involving Hetti was actually the story of the author's aunt had told the author she was the young preacher who comforted Hetti and got her to confess. In George Elliot's own words, this was her aunt's story. One point that I wonder about is whether the author had been aware of Nathaniel Hawthorn's The Scarlet Letter published about the same time as Adam Bede. Hester Sorel seems too close, at least in name, to Hester Prynne. ( )
  Ed_Schneider | Nov 27, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 70 (next | show all)

» 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
Paterson, JohnEditorsecondary 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)
What a look of yearning love it was that the mild grey eyes turned on the strong dark-eyed man!
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Classic Literature. Fiction. HTML:

Adam Bede follows the lives of a fictional rural community. The life and expectations of the good carpenter Adam Bede are disrupted when the local lord takes liberties below his station and his conscience. The novel is a discussion of class and education and also of religion, with the female Methodist preacher Dinah Morris coming to the fore as the novel progresses.


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