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George Eliot and Auguste Comte

The Influence of Comtean Philosophy on the Novels of George Eliot

David Maria Hesse

For the last two or three decades, Auguste Comte's Positivism has been viewed as an only minor influence on George Eliot's literary productions. The present study wishes to counter this critical stance by providing an extensive summary of Comte's philosophy and its historical background, showing Comte and George Eliot to have been part of the same current in European thought. George Eliot's view of herself as artist striving for the meliorisation of society and her concept of moral choice in a rigidly determined universe - which inform all of her novels - are related to her also Comtean background. In the subsequent analyses of her novels is pointed out how and to what extent Positivism and Comte's Religion of Humanity influenced George Eliot's art.
Contents: Reintroducing Comte and Positivism as a serious topic to George-Eliot-studies - Summary and explanation of Comte's major and minor works - Novel by novel analysis of how and to what extent Comte's philosophy influenced George Eliot's art - Extensive bibliography.