When Scenes of Clerical Life, George Eliot's first novel, was published anonymously in 1857, it was immediately recognized, in the words of Saturday Review, as 'the production of a peculiar and remarkable writer'. The three stories that make up the Scenes, 'The Sad Fortunes of the Reverend Amos Barton', 'Mr Gilfil's Love Story', and 'Janet's Repentance', intriguingly foreshadow George Eliot's later work. The first readers, including Dickens and Thackeray, were struck by the humorous irony, the truthfulness of the presentation of the lives of ordinary people, and the compassionate acceptance of human weakness which characterize Eliot's writing.
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