George Eliot on “Silly Novels” and A Week-end Jaunt

Miss Bates apologizes for her recent review lull and takes this opportunity to say that she’s on a week-end retreat till Monday, August 19. However, she’ll be checking comments; do write if you’re so inclined. She’ll return on Monday and days thereafter with new reviews, gushing or snarky!

Miss Bates has been reading romances galore, after her recent stint into the cozy mystery, as well as George Eliot’s essay, “Silly Novels By Lady Novelists.” Eliot’s caustic view of the popular novels of her time is still apropos today. Eliot is sarcastic and anti-romantic and Miss Bates believes Eliot’s influence and this essay one of the keys to romance-contempt. Nevertheless, Eliot’s was one of the great minds of Victorian letters and her opening paragraph, from which Miss Bates quotes here for your consideration, is a brilliant “rating scheme” to apply to what can be/go wrong with our beloved genre:

“Silly novels by Lady Novelists are a genus with many species, determined by the particular quality of silliness that predominates in them — the frothy, the prosy, the pious, or the pedantic. But it is a mixture of all these — a composite order of feminine fatuity, that produces the largest class of such novels … “

What are you reading this week-end? Is it providing endless delight and pleasure, or falling into Eliot’s sharply penned categories of “frothy, prosy, pious, or pedantic”? Miss Bates would love to hear from you!

7 thoughts on “George Eliot on “Silly Novels” and A Week-end Jaunt

  1. I look forward to your return Miss Bates as I await your reviews with bated breathe (forgive the pun). Your devoted fan.


    1. Wow, a re-read of Middlemarch. That novel grabbed my heart and squeezed when I was in my twenties. When I tried to re-read it about five years ago, it didn’t resonate. It’s so strange and interesting, the reread, and what it tells us about ourselves. I still love Mill on the Floss, though it turns me into a soggy mess of teary Kleenex.

      It was a lovely cultural jaunt of a week-end! Hope yours was good too 🙂


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