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15 March 2023

New book explores how marriage questions grow and change

New biography The Marriage Question, by author Clare Carlisle reveals how George Eliot was not only an artist but a brilliant philosopher who discusses the tensions and complexities of shared lives.

The marriage question CC

Professor of Philosophy, Clare Carlisle’s latest book centres on George Eliot’s experience and discoveries around marriage.

I find marriage a fascinating subject, full of deep philosophical questions. The more I thought about it, the more I was struck by the the dissonance between the familiar, conventional face of marriage, and the crazy leap of binding yourself to another person's future. And other people's marriages are this everyday mystery - we see couples everywhere, but the intensity of their shared life is usually hidden from view.

Professor Clare Carlisle, Professor of Philosophy

In The Marriage Question, released by Penguin on 23 March 2023, Clare Carlisle reveals Eliot to be not only a great artist but a brilliant philosopher who probes the tensions and complexities of a shared life. Through the immense ambition and dark marriage plots of her novels we see Eliot wrestling—in art and in life—with themes of desire and sacrifice, motherhood and creativity, trust and disillusion, destiny and chance. Reading them afresh, Carlisle's searching new biography explores how marriage questions grow and change, and joins Eliot in her struggle to marry thought and feeling.

It was so interesting to delve deep into the marriage question, while getting to know Eliot's remarkable novels more intimately. I was struck by how dark her portrayals of marriage often are - they are much more disturbing and ambiguous than in other 19th-century novels. I became intrigued by George Eliot’s own experience of marriage, which was very unconventional. Re-reading her novels, I realised how experimental and exciting they are. As a philosopher she was doing something new and exciting: bringing thought and feeling together.

Professor Clare Carlisle, Professor of Philosophy

Clare Carlisle is a Professor of Philosophy at King's and author of seven books including Spinoza's Religion, Philosopher of the Heart: The Restless Life of Søren Kierkegaard, and On Habit. Professor Carlisle has also edited George Eliot's translation of Spinoza's Ethics.

In this story

Clare  Carlisle

Professor of Philosophy