ABSTRACT Using Middlemarch as its primary instance, this essay argues that George Eliot's realism (and by extension nineteenth-century British realism generally) contains a tension between reference (to types of extradiegetic persons) and realization (which is aligned with the fictionality of novelistic characters). The dynamic of Eliot's novels involves the constant deviation of characters away fromtypes and toward fictional particularity, and it thereforematches a more general turn in British culture away froma desire for salvation conceived of as spiritual or ideational transcendence and toward a longing to attain a state of immanent existence that escapes the requirements of “meaning.”

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