Felix Holt, the Radical
Hard Cover. Edinburgh: William Blackwood and Sons, 1866. 1st Edition. Near Fine.
Three volumes. First edition, in Carter's "A" binding, with 4 pages of publisher advertisements and no catalog at the rear of Volume III. Publisher's cinnamon cloth, decorative borders stamped in blind to the boards, spines lettered in gilt. Near fine set with some toning to spines, tiny spot of soiling to fore edge of Volume I text block, light spotting to fore edge of Volume II text block, bookseller's stamp to rear pastedowns, and some blackening to top edges of text blocks. Overall, an excellent, unsophisticated set with crisp pages. Housed in a custom brick-red slip case. Felix Holt, the Radical is a social novel by Mary Anne Evans, a top writer of the Victorian Era who chose to write under a male pseudonym so that her works would be taken more seriously. In addition to writing novels, she edited and contributed to the left-wing journal The Westminster Review as one of the only female editors of her time. Her novels were praised for being socially and politically conscious and realistic depictions of country life. In Felix Holt, Eliot examines the social changes that occurred in the English countryside as a result of the First Reform Act of 1832, which reformed Parliament to reflect the new urban and rural dynamics that resulted from the Industrial Revolution. Rather than explain the events leading up to this reform, Eliot focuses on how public political policies affect the private lives of rural Englishmen. Felix Holt tells the story of a tumultuous election in the fictional town Treby Magna in the English Midlands, a small village previously unaffected by political goings-on that has been thrust into political turmoil by the Reform Act. Published around the time of the Second Reform Act of 1867, which extended enfranchisement to the working class, nearly doubling England's number of eligible voters, Felix Holt is a retrospective text that considers past legislation in juxtaposition with the new reform.