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Felix Holt, the Radical (1866)

por George Eliot

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Classic Literature. Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML:

In the novel Felix Holt, the Radical, George Eliot (the pseudonym of Mary Anne Evans) turns her attention to political affairs. However, although the Reform movement of the early 1800s is an important plot point in the novel, the tale focuses more on the intersection between politics and society, and the myriad ways in which changes in the law can and do affect family and intimate relationships.

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The background to this novel is the 1832 Reform Act and the turmoil in local elections, as the novel was a historical one - published in 1866 it looks back to an earlier period when the vote was held only by landowners etc and was denied to all women and to working men. Of course, the reform that eventually did take place only extended the vote to categories of working men, women being denied it until well into the 20th century.

Despite the title, the novel does not focus totally on Felix Holt, a thirty-something man who gives up training to be a doctor, and also spurns an easier life of selling quack medicines originally pedalled by his deceased father, to instead become a watchmaker and live a fairly poor life. It is mainly the story of Esther, a young woman who is faced with the choice of Felix as husband or a more prosperous life, possibly as the wife of a local rich man who tries to enter politics as a candidate in the election. For Esther's true antecdents are gradually revealed in the novel and could lead her to becoming an heiress.

Meanwhile, Esther is torn between the two men. Felix's moral standards drive her to emulate him and abandon her superficial concerns with having a fine appearance etc. In the process, she becomes more caring to her father, the Dissenting minister.

I found this a slog in places partly because the style of writing is occasionally very convoluted and hard to follow. I also wasn't convinced by Felix's moral superiority. The refrain of women's inferiority (in a book written by a woman) did grate rather especially as Esther internalises it. Overall I would rate the book at 3 stars. ( )
  kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
A wonderful book, a classic, an easy five stars. The audio version is flawlessly read by Nadia May, who both vanishes into the text and is highly expressive. Then there is George Eliot. Is there a better writer? Is there a writer who uses the English language to better effect, ranging across the spectrum of both vocabulary and grammar? Then there is her utter mastery of human nature which she treats with insight, humor, and generosity. The plot! Yes, there is a happy ending, but the getting there had some surprises and was great fun. It is a 19th Century novel so there is a pacing and some conventions that are of the era—they are also part of the pleasure of the reading. But it is Eliot’s unerring grasp of our humanity and the values she expresses that make her works so timeless and rewarding to read. ( )
  jdukuray | Jun 23, 2021 |
*5 writing; maybe *4 plotline, which is a tale of love, politics, religion, unexpected heirs and illegitimacy.
In North Loamshire, the election (a violent affair, full of bribery and threats) is about to take place. Harold Transome, newly returned to the family estate is standing as a Radical (to the distaste of his Tory relatives.) But why is the estate so diminished, and what does lawyer Jermyn have over his mother?
Meanwhile the eponymous Holt, a principled young watch maker, with a yen for social reform, is on the scene. As he discourses with the dissenting minister, Mr Lyon, he meets his lovely- but shallow? - daughter Esther...
Many twists and turns; gives a good insight into life in 1832. Dodgy elections have long been a thing!
However where George Eliot shines is in her very 3D characters, who are all, good and bad, believable. We understand their motivations and reasoning:

"Fancy what a game of chess would be if all the chessmen had passions and intellects, more or less small and cunning: if you were not only uncertain about your adversary's men, but a little uncertain also about your own; "
Brilliant writing. ( )
  starbox | Jan 25, 2021 |
The first book I have finished in 2011 is a classic written by the estimable George Eliot, whose novel Middlemarch I fell completely in love with. I found Felix Holt to be an inferior work, but still entertaining and quite gripping toward the end of the book. The Transome estate is in neglect when we first enter the scene, and the stately lady of the house is eagerly awaiting the arrival of her second-born son who has recently become the inheritor of everything. Lady Transome has many high hopes for this, her favourite child, and is in a state of eager anticipation when he arrives. Thus the story starts briefly with hope, but delves quickly into a twisted labyrinth of secrets and politics, immorality and goodness, love and hatred. We meet Esther and her father Mr. Lyon, a Radical minister, Mr. Jermyn who is a lawyer and has managed Transome in lieu of a mentally incapacitated Lord and his gambling eldest son, and the man the book is named after, Felix Holt who is of high moral character and, even more impressive, practices what he preaches.

Felix Holt was slow to get into and slow to introduce characters, but once all that was out of the way it developed into a lovely little morality tale complete with romance and politics. I give it seven bookmarks out of ten.

http://toomanybooknotenoughtime.blogspot.com/2011/01/felix-holt-radical.html ( )
  carliwi | Sep 23, 2019 |
Felix Holt is a surprising triumph for Eliot. For the first time, she engages fully with some of the deeper socio-political issues of her day and age. The plot is almost Dickensian in the amount of intrigue, scandal, and romance, which is a good thing for the sometimes achingly slow Eliot. Despite the (comparatively) racing plot, it is the emotional and psychological moments of the novel that are the strongest. Lady Transome is the best character I've read from Eliot yet. Felix Holt gets passed over due to its political and legal nuances that don't translate well to today's audience, but it also matters more in a social sense than many of her other works do. ( )
4 vote avilas | May 15, 2012 |
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» Adicionar outros autores (12 possíveis)

Nome do autorPapelTipo de autorObra?Estado
Eliot, Georgeautor principaltodas as ediçõesconfirmado
Coveney, PeterEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Hughes, KathrynIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Mugglestone, LyndaEditorautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Ritchie, JohnArtista da capaautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado
Thorold, DinnyIntroduçãoautor secundárioalgumas ediçõesconfirmado

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Five-and-thirty years ago the glory had not yet departed from the old coach-roads: the great roadside inns were still brilliant with well-polished tankards, the smiling glances of pretty barmaids, and the repartees of jocose ostlers; the hedge-cutter or the rick-thatcher might still know the exact hour by the unfailing yet otherwise meteoric apparition of the pea-green Tally-ho or the yellow Independent; and elderly gentlemen in pony-chaises, quartering nervously to make way for the rolling swinging swiftness, had not ceased to remark that times were finely changed since they used to see the pack-horses and hear the tinkling of their bells on the this very highway. (Introduction)
On the 1st of September, in the memorable year 1832, some one was expected at Transome Court.
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Classic Literature. Fiction. Historical Fiction. HTML:

In the novel Felix Holt, the Radical, George Eliot (the pseudonym of Mary Anne Evans) turns her attention to political affairs. However, although the Reform movement of the early 1800s is an important plot point in the novel, the tale focuses more on the intersection between politics and society, and the myriad ways in which changes in the law can and do affect family and intimate relationships.

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