Being George Eliot: An impossible standpoint?

Janice McRandal

Research output: Book chapter/Published conference paperForeword/postscript


“Coakley is the George Eliot of Theologians.”
This claim, made by Mark Oppenheimer, has sat uncomfortably in my memory for many years now, punctuated by a perpetual question mark. Oppenheimer was most likely referring to the way prose operated in Coakley’s work, but the ambiguity, or rather the irony, of this analogy has stuck. Eliot, of course, chose to conceal her gender. It was a means to an end, a way to penetrate the literary community of the Victorian era; a choice she felt would allow her work to be taken seriously and shield her from the puritanical gaze. It was a successful strategy for Mary Ann Evans: George Eliot’s legacy is secure alongside the great writers of Western literature. But this is hardly an uncomplicated ascription, perhaps demonstrated by the lasting confusion surrounding Virginia Woolf’s famous declaring of Eliot’s Middlemarch to be “one of the few English novels written for grownup people."
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSarah Coakley and the future of systematic theology
EditorsJanice McRandal
Place of PublicationMinneapolis, MN
PublisherFortress Press
Number of pages5
ISBN (Electronic)9781506408064
ISBN (Print)9781506410722
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jan 2016


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