Cloud-Borne Angels, Prophets and the Old Woman’s Flower-Pot: Reading George Eliot’s Realism alongside Spinoza’s ‘beings of the imagination’
'Why does Eliot set up a contrast between 'cloud-borne angels' and 'old women' going about their domestic tasks? And why would the exclusion of ordinary folk from 'the region of Art' risk limiting the scope and fitness of 'our religion and philosophy'? And what has all this to do with her allusions to the 'ideal' and 'the real'? This paper posits a reading of Eliot's realist approach as a self-conscious narrative strategy that draws on elements of the philosophy of Benedict Spinoza. As I hope to show, Spinoza's critical engagement with Scripture provided Eliot with a compendium of complex interpretative insights and narrative strategies that she deployed in her novels. Reading Eliot alongside Spinoza facilitates an understanding of realism where the capacity to imagine is intrinsic to our apprehension of reality.'
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Cite as: Gatens, Moira. ‘Cloud-Borne Angels, Prophets and the Old Woman’s Flower-Pot: Reading George Eliot’s Realism alongside Spinoza’s ‘beings of the imagination’.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 28, no. 3, 2013, doi: 10.20314/als.a38bcb13ed.