This article scrutinizes the relationship between Eliot and German writer Fanny Lewald. Lewald had met Lewes in London in 1850, so Lewes introduced Marian Evans to Lewald in Berlin in 1854–55. Here, the women discovered a common interest in Spinoza, German biblical scholarship, and Goethe, but also the form of the contemporary novel. The article suggests that Eliot's acquaintance with Lewald and, specifically, Lewald's novel Wandlungen (1853) shaped her understanding of and commitment to realism. Reading Lewald's published and unpublished thoughts on realism alongside Eliot's reviews of Ruskin and Riehl and her poetic excursions in “Amos Barton” and Adam Bede, the article shows that two key concepts emerge in both women's realist models: knowledge and sympathy. Overall, it argues that Eliot's realism should not be seen through the “‘great woman’ model” or as a “manifesto” but, rather, as containing and resisting other writings that surrounded these discussions.

You do not currently have access to this content.