chapter  5
26 Pages

George Eliot and How to Read Novels as Philosophy

ByCatherine Villanueva Gardner

George Eliot, the nineteenth-century British novelist, has often been described as a philosopher-novelist; indeed Mary Ellen Waithe in A History of Women Philosophers states that Eliot is sometimes described as “a philosopher whose genre was fiction” (Waithe 1991, 3: 255). Moreover Eliot is one of the few women philosophers to be accorded an entry in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy. What is significant for my investigation is how such a description has been understood. But I am not so much interested in the different ways that commentators have discussed this description, rather in the assumptions underlying their work about how this description is to be taken. Specifically, I am interested in the assumption that a search for the philosophical content of a novel must follow the model of philosophical assessment typical for the contemporary dominant model of moral philosophy.