Felix Holt. The Radical

ELIOT, George. Felix Holt. The Radical.

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ELIOT, George Felix Holt. The Radical. Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood and Sons, 1866.

8vo., 3 vols; original brick red publisher's cloth, embossed in blind to boards, lettered and decorated in gilt to spines; pale yellow endpapers; pp. [v], 2-303, [i]; [v], 2-290; [v], 2-283, [i], [iv, ads]; slight lean to all three volumes, with some rubbing to edges and extremities, and dustiness to the upper edge; bookseller sticker to front paste-down of Vol I; previous ownership name in ink to prelims of Vols I and II, with light purple ink stamps to ffep of Vol II; internally, save for the odd spot, very clean, with occasional light corner creasing; hinges expertly strengthened; p. 26 to 27 of vol iii roughly opened. A very good set in the original publisher's cloth, with half titles present in all three volumes and the four page publisher's ads present to the rear of Vol III.
First edition, in Carter's binding B.
Felix Holt was Eliot's fourth novel and is, essentially, a love story set against the backdrop of political upheaval. At its core is Harold Transome, the young nobleman who has returned from the colonies with a self-made fortune, who scandalises the town by deciding to stand for Parliament as a radical; the idealistic Felix Holt (forthright, brusque and driven by a firm desire to educate the working-class); and Esther Lyon, the daughter of the local clergyman, who is torn between which of the two to choose for a husband.
The novel is one of the least-read of Eliot's works, appearing after the great success of The Mill on the Floss, but before Middlemarch, the work which is perhaps her best-known, and much praised by figures such as Emily Dickenson and Florence Nightingale. Despite the initial mixed response, it is perhaps one of her more important novels in terms of her skillful commentary on the political establishment - something which is, perhaps, just as relevant today as it was then.