George Eliot’s Romola, writes Robert Kiely in his Introduction, embodies the author’s “wrestling with her own best theories of history and human nature as a creative experiment of the highest order.” Set in Florence in 1492, a time of great political and religious turmoil, Eliot’s novel blends vivid fictional characters with historical figures such as Savonarola, Machiavelli, and the Medicis. When Romola, the virtuous daughter of a blind scholar, marries Tito Melema, a charismatic young Greek, she is bound to a man whose escalating betrayals threaten to destroy all that she holds dear. Profoundly inspired by Savonarola’s teachings, then crushed by the religious leader’s ultimate failure, Romola finds her salvation in noble self-sacrifice. This Modern Library Paperback Classic is set from the 1878 Cabinet Edition.
About the Author
George Eliot was the pseudonym for Mary Anne Evans, one of the leading writers of the Victorian era, who published seven major novels and several translations during her career. She started her career as a sub-editor for the left-wing journal The Westminster Review, contributing politically charged essays and reviews before turning her attention to novels. Among Eliot s best-known works are Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, in which she explores aspects of human psychology, focusing on the rural outsider and the politics of small-town life. Eliot died in 1880.
Robert Kiely, a Benedictine Oblate, is an emeritus professor of English and American literature at Harvard University. At Harvard, he served terms as associate dean of undergraduate education, chair of the English department, and master of Adams House from 1973-99. His current research interests center on narrative, storytelling, and the relationship between Christian literature and the visual arts.
“George Eliot’s humanity colors all her other gifts—her humor, her morality, and her exquisite rhetoric.” —Henry James