The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

The Mill on the Floss

Excerpt

The Mill on the Floss, published on 4 April 1860, marks a turning point inEliot life as a writer. She began work on it in January 1859, a month before Adam Bede, her first full-length novel, was published. Nearly 40 years old, she had reached a moment of uncertainty. She could not know that Adam Bede would be a triumphant success, setting her on the road to fame and prosperity. Her first thoughts, as she embarked on this next piece of fiction, were of disaster. She combed the Annual Register 'for cases of inundation', and copied details into her commonplace book--bridges swept away, houses flooded, fields submerged. In choosing the setting for her new novel,Eliot seemed to be continuing a pattern begun with Scenes of Clerical Life (1858), her first published fiction, and Adam Bede. Like those works, The Mill on the Floss looks back on the provincial life she had experienced as a child and young woman. It too is placed in the past, but a past that is still close enough to be recalled by the living. In this novel, however,Eliot is thinking of her own history in very much more immediate terms than she had allowed herself in her first fictional works. The Mill on the Floss is in part an expression of her sorrow for the irrevocable loss of the life she had known in childhood. Many details of Maggie Tulliver's experiences draw directly on memories of rural Warwickshire, personal recollections whichEliot idealized as they grew more distant. Dorlcote Mill, home to the Tulliver family, recalls Arbury Mill, where Mary Anne Evans had played as a child. The Round Pool from whose banks Maggie and Tom happily fish resembles the pool close to Griff House, the 'old, old home' of Mary Anne's youth. Maggie's intense relations with her older brother Tom reflect the young Mary Anne's adoration of her only brother, Isaac Evans. In defending . . .

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