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    2012. The Life of George Eliot.



  • Nancy Henry (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 18 May 2011

The fifteenth-century Florentine world that George Eliot studied and recreated in Romola (Cornhill Magazine, July 1862–August 1863) was characterized by the idea of love between males and the practice of sex between males. Same sex desire took various forms from the love of the older teacher for his pupil to the illegal but common practice of penetrating adolescent boys, for which many fifteenth-century Florentine men were prosecuted, particularly under the regime of the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola (1494–98). The monasteries themselves constituted an intense, all-male community of voluntary celibacy. These various sexual behaviors co-existed with more visible heterosexual institutions and practices, from the often politicized arranged marriages of the wealthy elite to the casual coupling of the peasant classes.

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David J. DeLaura Romola and the Origin of the Paterian View of Life.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 21.3 (Dec. 1966): 225–33. JSTOR. Web. 12 May 2010.

Donald Hill . “Pater's Debt to Romola.” Nineteenth-Century Fiction 22.4 (March 1968): 361–77. JSTOR. Web. 13 May 2010.

Shawn Malley . “‘The Listening Look’: Visual and Verbal Metaphor in Frederic Leighton's Illustrations of George Eliot's Romola.” Nineteenth-Century Contexts 19.3 (1996): 259–84. Print.

Joseph Pequigney . “Sodomy in Dante's Inferno and Purgatorio.” Representations 36 (Autumn 1991): 2242. JSTOR. Web. 14 May 2010.

Girolamo Savonarola . Selected Writings of Girolamo Savonarola: Religion and Politics, 1490–1498. Trans. and ed. Donald Beebe, Anne Borelli and Maria Pastore Passaro . New Haven: Yale UP, 2006. Print.

Andrew Thompson . George Eliot and Italy: Literary, Cultural and Political Influences from Dante to the Risorgimento. New York: St. Martin's, 1998. Print.

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Victorian Literature and Culture
  • ISSN: 1060-1503
  • EISSN: 1470-1553
  • URL: /core/journals/victorian-literature-and-culture
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