The Ethics

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George Eliot, Translator of Human Emotions

Before she was George Eliot, Mary Ann Evans translated Spinoza’s magnum opus, Ethics, while she was living in Berlin. For the first time in more than a century, a new edition of her translation will be made available, and for the Guardian, Alison Flood and Lindesay Irvine take a look at how the translation sheds new light on Eliot’s life. “She was basically immersed in this project for a couple of years just before she began writing fiction,” says Clare Carlisle, a reader in philosophy and theology at King’s College London. “It was the last thing she did before she wrote her stories and became George Eliot. A large part of Spinoza’s Ethics gives this insightful analysis of human emotion, and I think that’s something she obviously learned from, because she has this really amazing understanding of human emotions and how they work.”

Image credit: Alexandre-Louis-François d’Albert-Durade

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