Ilana M. Blumberg

Ilana M. Blumberg

Ilana M. Blumberg

Ilana M. Blumberg, currently senior lecturer at Bar-Ilan University, is known for her publications, Victorian Sacrifice: Ethics and Economics in Mid-Century Novels and Houses of Study: A Jewish Woman Among Books. Her current interests are nineteenth-century British literature, ethics and literature, material culture and economics, autobiography, and creative non-fiction. Currently Blumberg is working on a book project, “’Open Your Hand’: Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American.”

 

Her paper, “Converting Towards or Away: The Case of George Eliot and Modern Ethics,” contrasts the trajectories of conversion in Mary Augusta Ward’s Robert Elsmere (1888) and George Eliot’s Mill on the Floss (1860) and Romola (1862). This highlights the degree to which the drama of Eliot’s novels resides in the moments in which her heroes “convert” toward (Judeo-)Christianity rather than away from it.  As Eliot examines these conversions “towards,” they allow her to dramatize what it is about religious faith—that most intangible, elusive of properties—that sets in motion the lived process of ethical maturation, in turn raising the question of whether an ethics can inspire action without having been first learned as religion.  Eliot’s novels thus leave open for investigation the enormously pressing problem: without an initial immersion in Christian orthodoxy, where can ethics find a grounding and an experiential motivating force?

 

 

Letter from George Eliot to Robert Browning. <br />
[24 March 1864].<br />

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Letter from George Eliot to Robert Browning. [24 March 1864].

Only one letter from George Eliot to Robert Browning [24 March 1864] is part of the collection at the ABL. In this letter Eliot encourages a visit from Browning after her return from Scotland, and notes that,

By that time I hope to be a less headachy wretch than I happen to be this week, & all pleasant things will be pleasanter to me.

Ward, Mrs. Humphry. Fenwick's Career. Illustrated from drawings by Albert Sterner. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1906.

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Mrs. Humphry Ward. Fenwick's Career. Illustrated from drawings by Albert Sterner. London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1906.

This edition, printed on hand-made paper, is limited to two hundred and fifty copies for sale, each copy being signed by the author. This copy, No. 36, is signed “Mary A. Ward." There is also an inscription on the half-title page: "To Stopford Brooke with kindest remembrance from the writer -- Xmas 1906."

This volume was gifted to Stopford Augustus Brooke by Mary Augusta Ward. Brooke and Ward held sympathetic, liberal views regarding Christianity. Although Brooke did not leave his faith like Ward’s main character, Robert Elsmere, he did move from Anglicanism to Unitarianism.

 

 

Eliot, George. Romola. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1863.

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George Eliot. Romola. A Novel. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1863.

Eliot, George. The Mill on the Floss. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1860.

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George Eliot. The Mill on the Floss. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1860.

- Exhibition Text by Melinda Creech

Ilana M. Blumberg