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Adam Bede

George Eliot

Book Overview: 

Adam Bede, the first novel written by George Eliot. The story’s plot follows four characters rural lives in the fictional community of Hayslope—a rural, pastoral and close-knit community. The novel revolves around a love triangle between beautiful but thoughtless Hetty Sorrel, Captain Arthur Donnithorne, the young squire who seduces her, Adam Bede, her unacknowledged lover, and Dinah Morris, Hetty’s cousin, a fervent Methodist lay preacher.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Thy poor feyther 'ull ne'er anger thee no more; an' thy mother may's well go arter him—the sooner the better—for I'm no good to nobody now. One old coat 'ull do to patch another, but it's good for nought else. Thee'dst like to ha' a wife to mend thy clothes an' get thy victual, better nor thy old mother. An' I shall be nought but cumber, a-sittin' i' th' chimney-corner. (Adam winced and moved uneasily; he dreaded, of all things, to hear his mother speak of Hetty.) But if thy feyther had lived, he'd ne'er ha' wanted me to go to make room for another, for he could no more ha' done wi'out me nor one side o' the scissars can do wi'out th' other. Eh, we should ha' been both flung away together, an' then I shouldna ha' seen this day, an' one buryin' 'ud ha' done for us both."

Here Lisbeth paused, but Adam sat in pained silence—he could not speak otherwise than tenderly to his mother to-day, but he could not help being irritated by this plaint. It wa. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Adam Bede (1859) was George Eliot’s first novel, preceded only by her short fiction collection, Scenes of Clerical Life. The novel was recognized as a masterpiece from the start. The Times review stated that “the author takes rank among the masters of the craft” and describes “him” as possessing...more

George Eliot’s masterpiece is Middlemarch, but Adam Bede has always been my favorite Eliot novel. I’m not sure why this is. It might be because Bede was the first Eliot book I read. I doubt this, however, because the first Austen book I read was Pride and Prejudice, but my favorite Austen book is...more

Reading this reminded me of the long running radio soap, The Archers. That started around 70 years ago I think, whereas this novel is set at the end of the 18th century/ beginning of the 19th.

The title character is a handsome hunk of a man who ticks all the right boxes for George Eliot and the re...more

I think I have read somewhere Dinah Morris is also known as That Irksome Character...more

The fact that George Eliot called this novel Adam Bede and not Hetty Sorrel proves that there is no justice in this world.

The novel itself, Eliot’s first, is a fairly quaint pastoral romance. Everyone’s in love with the wrong person. You get the picture. The plot doesn’t really wear the novel’s w...more

Possibly 3.5.
I found the premise and some aspects of the book fascinating, and the second half very gripping - but as I often find with George Eliot, I found it more interesting than enjoyable, and the pacing, especially at the ending, wasn't quite right for me. Nonetheless, I'm looking forward t...more

Because I was rereading David Copperfield during some of the time I was reading this, I couldn’t help but compare the characters (and situations) of one book to the other: for example, the extremes between the adorable Dora/Hetty and the angelic Agnes/Dinah. And though I know Eliot had reservatio...more

I believe this may be the most beautiful book I have ever read. I felt both uplifted and emotionally drained when I finished. The tragedy and the great beauty of George Eliot's writing! I didn't read this edition, mine was much older, but the introduction of my edition quoted Charles Dickens as s...more

It would be a poor result of all our anguish and our wrestling if we won nothing but our old selves at the end of it—if we could return to the same blind loves, the same self-confident blame, the same light thoughts of human suffering, the same frivolous gossip over blighted human lives, the sam...more

Adam Bede is a story about love, self-deception, religious feeling, innocence, and experience. It would not be an unfit introduction to Eliot, though Middlemarch is by far her superior novel. I am awed by Eliot's psychological insight into human personality. Her characters are some of the most vi...more

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