As Scenes of Clerical Life (1857) was first appearing in Blackwood's Magazine, George Eliot endorsed John Blackwood's wish that their “literary intercourse may continue”: “it means that I shall go on writing what will stir men's heart to sympathy as well as that I shall have all the pleasures and advantages involved in the possession of a generous editor” (2: 353). Yet that correspondence involved as much antipathy as sympathy. In the late 1840s Lewes had participated in a similarly mixed interchange with Charlotte Brontë, which she received “in anger” and “agreement and harmony” (Gaskell, Life 276). The case study of Lewes, Brontë, and Eliot allows us to see how a lengthy literary intercourse that involved letters, biographies, and reviews, novels responding to other novels, and mixed negative and positive critical responses enabled multiple participants to reshape the form of fiction in the middle of the nineteenth century. 

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