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Spaces of the Sacred in George Eliot’s Romola and Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Agnes of Sorrento

conference contribution
posted on 2023-07-26, 14:06 authored by Elizabeth Ludlow
In this paper, I consider how Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Agnes of Sorrento (1861) and George Eliot’s Romola (1862-3) represent looking at sacred art and architecture as a religious experience that can be associated with the sacramental and with prayer. By contrasting the theological approach of the two novels that were both published in the Cornhill, set in the 1490s, and concerned with Savonorala’s leadership over Florence, I suggest how both authors offer very different reconfigurations of the sacramental. After considering questions of influence and unpacking Eliot’s response to Stowe, I explore the tensions between the various experiences of the characters – in both novels- who see and enter spaces that have been set apart for worship and devotion. In highlighting these tensions, I stress how Eliot’s representation of the interruption of the religious aesthetic into the quotidian life of the characters illuminates her hermeneutical inquiry into the interrelation between the sacred and the profane.


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George Eliot and her Circle

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George Eliot and her Circle


Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, UK

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ARCHIVED Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences (until September 2018)

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