George Eliot (Mary Ann, later Marian, Evans)
Towards the end of her lifetime, George Eliot’s reputation was at its height. After her death, it rapidly declined: critics felt that her intellect weighed the novels down, that moralistic diversions detracted from the narrative. She was finally rehabilitated into the ranks of the ‘great tradition’ of novelists by F. R. Leavis, who saw that her writing possessed ‘traditional moral sensibility’ and a ‘luminous intelligence’: he considered her almost as great as Tolstoy.
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