This Is AuburnAUrora

Victorian Sexual Politics and the Unsettling Case of George Eliot's Response to Walt Whitman


Rilett, Beverley Park


George Eliot and Walt Whitman, two of the most influential writers of the nineteenth century, are rarely discussed in relation to one another. They did not correspond, nor did either writer ever cross the Atlantic. There may have been several degrees of separation between Eliot and Whitman personally, but even from a distance, the two writers influenced each other’s careers. There has been some misconception that Eliot disdained and discounted Whitman. This essay seeks to refute that assumption by examining the context in which Eliot appeared to reject him. Perhaps more significantly, this essay breaks new critical ground by attributing a second review of Whitman’s 1855 Leaves of Grass to George Eliot.