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ADAM BEDE. A NOVEL Hardcover – 1111


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  • Hardcover
  • ASIN: B00005VATI
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)

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WITH a single drop of ink for a mirror, the Egyptian sorcerer undertakes to reveal to any chance comer far-reaching visions of the past. Read the first page
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By A.J. on July 28 2003
Format: Paperback
Adam Bede, the titular hero of George Eliot's first novel, is of a character so sterling that one little anecdote serves to define his whole life and work ethic: He's a carpenter, and he had done some work for a lady whose father, an old squire named Donnithorne, suggested that she pay him less than the fee he requested. Adam insisted that he would rather take no money for the job, for to accept a reduced amount would be like admitting he overcharges for shoddy work. By standing on his principles, he won his full fee in the end and cemented his reputation as a businessman of honor and acumen, proving his fairness to both his customers and himself.
Thus he seems an unlikely match for Hetty Sorrel, the prettiest girl in the village of Hayslope. Vain, selfish, materialistic, hating her laborious farm chores, Hetty bears more than a passing resemblance to Flaubert's Madame Bovary. However, while Madame Bovary's unattainable dream world is inspired by her reading romances, Hetty "had never read a novel" so she can't "find a shape for her expectations" regarding love. Unable to foresee any possible consequences for her actions, she allows herself to be seduced by Arthur Donnithorne, the old squire's grandson, who stands to inherit the land on which most of the Hayslopers live.
Arthur is a radiant example of Eliot's mastery in complicated character creation. Acutely aware of his position in society, he has the kind of charisma with which he can talk to his tenants politely but with just the slightest hint of condescension and completely win their respect for his authority.
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Format: Paperback
ADAM BEDE is a thrilling read, though it may seem hard to believe given the unpromising setting and the stilted way Eliot introduces her story. But after the first few starchy chapters, abruptly, something wonderful happens: she gets wise to herself. It's as if you can see her realize that the upright characters she *thought* she was pinning her story on, dull Dinah and Mr Irwine, aren't really the stuff of which fiction is made -- so she shoves them aside and takes up the flawed characters of her triangle, who resonate with possibility at every turn. Suddenly, miraculously, with almost no warning, all Eliot's amazing gifts as a writer take center stage: Her psychological insight. Her phenomenal wit. The dramatizing genius that allows her, effortlessly, to plot the most intimate narrative developments against the gigantic backdrop of a county-wide feast or funeral. Her fearlessness and surefootedness in picking her way (and ours) through the tangle of social and class relationships of an entire village. In this embarrassment of riches, maybe most rewarding for a reader like me is Eliot's unerring ability to pay off her plots: here, ladies and gentlemen, is a writer who knows how to write the hell out of a climax -- George Eliot's big confrontation scenes never, ever disappoint.
Too, some wizardry seems to keep her narrative touch both incomparably delicate and completely unflinching at the same time. At the heart of ADAM BEDE is a story so sordid I wonder whether it could be broadcast on network TV today, and Eliot tells it without vulgarity but without ever shying away from its ugliness. My most serious criticism of the book is that Eliot didn't quite trust herself enough not to tack an unconvincing (and, worse, uninteresting) happy ending onto her story. But the hair-raising drive of the middle two-thirds of the book is something you'll never forget.
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Format: Paperback
This book is a good read although it can be slow at times. Adam Bede is, of course, the title character. But it is Hetty Sorrel that Eliot uses to raise questions about a very judgmental society. Hetty's "fall" asks the question of who is to blame. Throughout the novel she is never given much guidance, although she is expected to act in the proper manner. In fact, Eliot may not have even known how to deal with society's reaction to Hetty, therefore, making a dull ending that does not make much sense. Eliot seems afraid to address the issues of Hetty being integrated back into society and the consequences of her actions. In failing to end the book with Hetty coming back home, Eliot fails to make her point. That being, the influence of a society in the actions of their people. Who is to blame? Eliot herself, in the weak ending, backs down to the very own society she is questioning. Hetty is not allowed to return, therefore, the society is never forced to deal with the issue. In the end, Eliot raises many questions regarding the structure of society. However, she does not follow through and falls short in the ending. All in all, I would highly recommend this read. If you can get through the slow spots, you will raise many of your own questions about who is responsible when someone falls short in our own society? Good Luck and enjoy!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 31 1999
Format: Paperback
What can I say about this wondeful story? The genius George Eliot lulls us into a false sense of security - the first half of the book is so idyllic and lovely that we are just not prepared for the ensuing tragedy. Marvellous.
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