Map of Niederranna on Hetty Sorrel in Adam Bede, for example, seems to me a plausible characterization of sorne one to a considerable degree unlike George Eliot herself: Like Williams, l come from a rural background, though at the distance of an extra generation, so, like Williams, l too can speak from direct experience about this. Can it be that there is a trace of misogyny in Williams’s put-down of Austen and Eliot, in favor of male novelists like Hardy and Lawrence? Prying and analytic is a really nasty epithet, and what worse can one say of a supposedly objective realist novelist than that aIl her protagonists are versions of herself? Eliot, it happens, had had a lot of direct experience with rural people as a child, for example by traveling around the neighborhood with her father in his carriage. He was an estate agent, neither peasant nor aristocrat, but located at an in-between class site weIl suited to comparative observation by an astute and sharp-eyed daughter who shared his class placement. In my judgment, Williams is, as we say, shooting from the hip in his put-down of Eliot. Williams’s judgment of Hardy is quite different. Hardy, he says, trulyunderstood the rural personages and communities he represents in his novels. He understood them because he had experienced rurallife first hand as a child. Map of Niederranna 2016.
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