Published the same year as her first novel, Adam Bede, this overlooked work displays the gifts for which George Eliot would become famous—gritty realism, psychological insight, and idealistic moralizing. It is unique from all her other writing, however, in that it represents the only time she ever used a first-person narrator, and it is the only time she wrote about the supernatural.
The tale of a man who is incapacitated by visions of the future and the cacophony of overheard thoughts, and yet who can’t help trying to subvert his vividly glimpsed destiny, it is easy to read The Lifted Veil as being autobiographically revealing—of Eliot’s sensitivity to public opinion and her awareness that her days concealed behind a pseudonym were doomed to a tragic unveiling (as indeed came to pass soon after this novella’s publication). But it is easier still to read the story as the exciting and genuine precursor of a moody new form, as well as an absorbing early masterpiece of suspense.
The Art of The Novella Series
Too short to be a novel, too long to be a short story, the novella is generally unrecognized by academics and publishers. Nonetheless, it is a form beloved and practiced by literature's greatest writers. In the Art Of The Novella series, Melville House celebrates this renegade art form and its practitioners with titles that are, in many instances, presented in book form for the first time.
About the Author
George Eliot was born Mary Anne Evans in Chilvers Coton, England in 1819 on an estate managed by her father. When her mother did she left school to run the household, continuing her education alone in the estate’s library. She was multi-lingual and steeped in classical literature by the time a series of her essays and translations led to an invitation to London to edit the prestigious Westminster Review—anonymously, for fear a female editor would put off readers. When nearly 40 she published the story collection Scenes of Clerical Life, under the pseudonym George Eliot, partly because she was living with a married man, radical publisher George Henry Lewes, and feared being shunned by the public. Bu tin 1849 her fist novel Adam Bede, with its startling realism and psychologically astute characterizations, caused a sensation—and prompted an imposter to claim authorship. Evans revealed herself and was indeed ostracized, although less so with each successful new book, from The Mill on the Floss to Silas Marner and Middlemarch. After 25 years together Lewes died and, still grieving, she married their banker, a man 20 years her junior. She died shortly thereafter in 1880.
"I wanted them all, even those I'd already read." —Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Observer
"Small wonders." —Time Out London
"[F]irst-rate…astutely selected and attractively packaged…indisputably great works." —Adam Begley, The New York Observer
"I’ve always been haunted by Bartleby, the proto-slacker. But it’s the handsomely minimalist cover of the Melville House edition that gets me here, one of many in the small publisher’s fine 'Art of the Novella' series." —The New Yorker
"The Art of the Novella series is sort of an anti-Kindle. What these singular, distinctive titles celebrate is book-ness. They're slim enough to be portable but showy enough to be conspicuously consumed—tiny little objects that demand to be loved for the commodities they are." —KQED (NPR San Francisco)
"Some like it short, and if you're one of them, Melville House, an independent publisher based in Brooklyn, has a line of books for you... elegant-looking paperback editions ...a good read in a small package." —The Wall Street Journal