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Adam Bede

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  15,841 ratings  ·  516 reviews
Hailed for its sympathetic and accurate rendering of nineteenth-century English pastoral life, Adam Bede was George Eliot's first full-length novel and a bestseller from the moment of publication. Eliot herself called it "a country story - full of the breath of cows and scent of hay." In the early days of the Napoleonic Wars, Adam Bede is hardworking carpenter with enormou ...more
Paperback, Modern Library Classics Paperback Edition, 624 pages
Published April 9th 2002 by Modern Library (first published 1859)
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Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeDracula by Bram StokerThe Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
Victorian novels
38th out of 202 books — 334 voters
Pride and Prejudice by Jane AustenJane Eyre by Charlotte BrontëWuthering Heights by Emily BrontëThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeCrime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Best Books of the 19th Century
189th out of 758 books — 4,422 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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I believe this may be the most beautiful book I have ever read. I felt both uplifted and emotionally drained when I finished. The tragedy and the great beauty of George Eliot's writing! I didn't read this edition, mine was much older, but the introduction of my edition quoted Charles Dickens as saying that reading Adam Bede was an epoch in his life, and Alexandre Dumas called it the masterpiece of the century. I'm happy to agree with them. Most people say that Middlemarch is George Eliot's maste ...more
Skylar Burris
Adam Bede is a story about love, self-deception, religious feeling, innocence, and experience. It would not be an unfit introduction to Eliot, though Middlemarch is by far her superior novel. I am awed by Eliot's psychological insight into human personality. Her characters are some of the most vivid in all of literary history, and her ability to penetrate to the very heart of human motivation is unrivaled. She presents her story with wit and subtle sarcasm. (Take, for instance, this tongue-in-ch ...more
George Eliot’s masterpiece is Middlemarch, but Adam Bede has always been my favorite Eliot novel. I’m not sure why this is. It might be because Bede was the first Eliot book I read. I doubt this, however, because the first Austen book I read was Pride and Prejudice, but my favorite Austen book is Persuasion. I understand why Middlemarch is a masterpiece, yet I find myself agreeing with Dumas pere in considering Bede to be the “masterpiece of the century”.

I first read Bede after watching the firs
Adam Bede is a polished and delicately painted debut novel . George Eliot published Silas Marner and the Mill on the Floss in each of the next two years. How amazing! Adam Bede predates Hardy's Tess of D' Ubervilles by over 30 years and honestly, I found Eliot's novel more suspenseful and brutal. Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos

The setting, 1798, bucolic England peopled with dozens of individuals from every walk of life. At first this town is like the Garden of Eden with meaningful employment for everyone. Adam, of course, is
Sep 14, 2008 Myla rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Myla by: Mel Bennett aka Daddy-O
I loved this book! It was just a mellow fun story to read nothing riviting me to my seat and then all of a sudden I was dying! I have never in my life been completely torn; I couldn't stop reading because I had to know what would happen at the same time I had to stop reading because I was afraid to see what would happen. Never in my life have I seriously considered flipping to the back of the book to see how it ends, and I am not a spoiler of plots. Not to be cliche but I laughed and cried and.. ...more
I took my time with this book. First, it was to enjoy Eliot's near-cinematic writing style in the beginning of the novel as she laid out the world and characters of "Adam Bede". Then, I read slowly to slow down the arrival of the inevitable fall from paradise. But Eliot handled it beautifully complete with cliffhangers that saw me, at one dramatic chapter, drop the book, throw my arm over my eyes and gasp for breath. You'll know where when you read it. Please do, Adam Bede's world seems bucolic ...more
Though not especially fast nor overly thrilling, Adam Bede is a beautiful insight into a crucial moment in British history - and into the human condition in general - all inserted in the frame of a beautiful, surprisingly entertaining story.
I'm a lifelong George Eliot fan, so it's strange that I just never got to Adam Bede before now. I suppose I was afraid it would fall short of Eliot's masterpieces, Middlemarch and Daniel Deronda, or even Mill on the Floss and Silas Marner. Adam Bede is in fact an "early" book; one senses Eliot working toward her greatest powers. The pacing can be a bit slow at times; Eliot juggles fewer narrative threads than she does later in her career; and there is a slight sensationalism in the focus on the ...more
It would be a poor result of all our anguish and our wrestling if we won nothing but our old selves at the end of it—if we could return to the same blind loves, the same self-confident blame, the same light thoughts of human suffering, the same frivolous gossip over blighted human lives, the same feeble sense of that Unknown towards which we have sent forth irrepressible cries in our loneliness.
Adam Bede, George Eliot's first novel and second published work, is just as brilliant a novel as the
Elizabeth (Alaska)
This starts very slowly. Even at 200 pages in I thought “My anticipation of the pleasure of reading this far out strips my actual pleasure of reading this.” For me, this may have been due in part to the large amount of religious talk and paragraphs of actual prayer. I’m sure this was thought quite normal and acceptable at the time of publication – and perhaps by many readers today – but it is not the sort of writing I embrace. In addition, Eliot thought it necessary to write the speech of her pe ...more
A long book and was tempted to read a summary to make sure I was following the plot correctly but so glad I didn't as the suspense really built in the latter going. Eliot's prose as usual is gorgeous and a joy to read. Only Felix Holt left to read of the major works now and am looking forward to that. Yes, this was no Middlemarch, but a great work nevertheless.

I think this review from 1859 sums it up nicely:

Classic Review
A review by Anonymous

[Ed. Note. This review first ran in the Atlantic Month
Absolutely loved this novel. I am certain I will read this again and again throughout my lifetime.

The first three hundred pages (pre-Hetty's travails) were perfect; I was disappointed when the wonderfully center-less scope narrowed its focus on the events of Hetty's escape.

This novel really raised the bar for me w/r/t character development: even the most minor (and superficially unlikeable) of characters has an interior world as expansive and dynamic as any galaxy, full of prejudices, doubts, pr
This is the story of Adam Bede, a carpenter who lives in the countryside and falls in love with Hetty Sorrel, a maid who lives with the Poysers, uncle and aunt of Adam.

In reality, the plot involves the love story among the four main characters: Adam, Hetty Sorrel, Arthur Donnithorne, a young squire who seduces Hetty, and Dinah Morris, Hetty's cousin and an itinerant Methodist preacher.

After have been seduced by Arthur, Hetty's life become a turmoil of tragic events.

The first movie based on this
Adam Bede was wonderful. It was lush and evocative of the late 18th century and intensely psychological in a way I wasn't expecting at all. In 19th century literature it is so easy to lose sight of how most people lived, spending so much time with the gentry and high-stakes players of the era, with "common people" being Dickens caricatures, however lovingly drawn, and background noise.

I have been holding an unfair grudge against George Eliot for all the wrong reasons. It's not her fault the prof
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It may be heresy (why is it always heresy to dislike a "classic" when a book's status as a classic mainly stems from its age?), but I'm not particularly fond of George Eliot. Granted, I read her books when I was rather younger, but I found her tone too moralistic and prescriptive, and the political overtones too strident. Adam Bede is perhaps one of my least favourite of the books of hers that I have read. We have our overly prim, proper, and holier-than-thou protagonists, Adam Bede and Dinah Mo ...more
100% engaging. This is one of those books that you feel more human for having read.

What the plot may lack in scope, the writing makes up for tenfold with tender and true insights into pain, hope, vanity and prosaic life. It's a true, true, true book, that beats with an honest heart. You get to love the narrator in the very fact that the narrator is open about her love for the characters. this book is a treasure, in all its homely ruggedness and sometimes shocking, but inevitable events. It's not
This took me a long time to read, and it's a difficult book to read in 10 or 15 minute snatches. However, I gave it 5 stars because it was worth the time it took. I was really impressed with how Eliot created and presented these characters--she makes you relate with the "bad guys" and really respect the good guys and how they deal with their struggles. She's very wordy, but for the most part they're very wise and worth getting through.
Karl H.
Reading George Eliot’s Adam Bede, I found myself reminded of Norman Rockwell paintings, with their impeccable technique and saccharine kitschy everyday subjects of the not so distant past. Like a Norman Rockwell of the 19th century, Eliot smiles at most of her subjects and makes us long to return to the good old days, even if she pokes a bit of sly fun at their expense from time to time. But nostalgia is not a lens through which we see clearly, and this Norman Rockwell portrait of a community mi ...more
☽ Moon Rose ☯
"In the midst of life we are in death."
Figuratively speaking, it is true enough to say that we die a thousand deaths in a single lifetime. As we live this life that seems only to thrive in human anguish, it makes every bit of suffering the same face of death that seems always at hand at every moment of life as it makes its eternal presence known to us always in the now as if ready to inflict the swing of its mighty blow of an ax at all times to cut the very fiber of our existence, ready to tra
Once in a while it pays to go back and read a classic. They are called classics for a reason. With themes and characters that are evergreen, a classic is a book that continues to speak to readers over the course of decades, nay, even centuries. With the irresistible story lines of innocent, yet really bad judgement; devotion to work, family and community; unrequited love and privileged cads, Adam Bede also educates the reader in the finer themes of comparative religion, farming in the late eight ...more
How this book would be perfect:

So to open, George Eliot describes the green trees and the thatch roofs and the dirt on the path, with such vivid detail, it's as if a sorceress set us down in that town. Eliot describes birds and shit. She describes Adam Bede's bloated body floating face down in the fish pond, a sturgeon nibbling at the end of his fingertips.

The end.
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A great book about love and forgiveness. I was reading on a cruise ship with dozens of people around and I still cried toward the end (if I'd been alone in my room, I would have been SOBBING). It was so heart-wrenching and I found myself feeling sympathy and pity for characters I previously didn't care for. I love how Adam truly learned the meaning of forgiveness. My only complaint is that I wish Seth's fate had been different. I really liked his character.

"It's no use meeting to say more hard w
Ben Babcock
So far I’ve been reading George Eliot’s work in a reverse-chronological order. For my third experience I’ve chosen Adam Bede, her first novel. I didn’t realize this until I read the introduction after finishing the book. In hindsight, I can see how her style is less polished than her later works; however, at the time, I was captivated by all the hallmarks of Eliot’s writing that make her my favourite Victorian novelist.

The plot of Adam Bede really is one of the simplest of all time (though it ta
May 13, 2012 Furqan rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Eliot's fans, lovers of Victorian literature
As with pretty much all of Eliot’s novels, a little dose of patience wouldn’t go amiss, because in the end she does reward you for your perseverance. Adam Bede was Eliot’s first novel and was a huge success upon its publication. Although, it pales in comparison to her succeeding works, Adam Bede is still a damn good read; even if it slightly lacks the immaculate characterisation and masterly control she brings to Middlemarch (her masterpiece) and my favourite, The Mill on the Floss.


As with most
My love affair with George Eliot continues. Adam Bede was Eliot's first book, though it was written when she was almost forty years old.

From the beginning, Eliot had all the things that makes her so remarkable: her descriptions are so vivid and tangible, her characterization is absolutely the best I've ever read, her knowledge and understanding of human nature are uncanny.

One of my favorite characters is actually Arthur Dunnithorne. He is such a child who has dreams of being a great leader tha
I savored the words, sentences, scenes, thoughts, and personalities of this book. I was transported. This book will be added to those that I read and re-read and re-read.... George Eliot is sublime. I wanted to memorize whole sentences, paragraphs, and chapters. So much to think on and to internalize. What a treasure this book is!

Adam Bede is a workman in a small parish in north England. There are so many characters this book could have been named after. It is written such that they all seemed t
(5/10) At the core of Adam Bede there's a great realist novel with somewhat uncomfortable subtext that could probably be excused by its era. Unfortunately, Eliot's writing style turns that subtext into big sixteen-point font text, and the result is a book that is too busy hammering you over the head with everything to develop its characters or plot beyond two dimensions. In doing so the novel turns from a somewhat dull but convincing depiction of rural life to a morality play where in the end th ...more
Reading George Eliot is like eating a particularly good piece of cheesecake. I want to read her slowly and savor each bite. This book begins slowly and progresses slowly, but in a way few authors could get away with. She engages the reader on a personal level and she maintains eye contact throughout. I found myself reading the book as if I were reading it out loud so as not to miss her poetry. I guess I could comment on the story itself, but that really isn't why I read George Eliot. I read her ...more
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2015 Reading Chal...: Adam Bede by George Eliot 3 25 Apr 22, 2015 06:20AM  
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Who is responsible for Hetty's tragedy ? 4 26 Mar 06, 2014 06:14AM  
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In 1819, novelist George Eliot (nee Mary Ann Evans), was born at a farmstead in Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England, where her father was estate manager. Mary Ann, the youngest child and a favorite of her father's, received a good education for a young woman of her day. Influenced by a favorite governess, she became a religious evangelical as an adolescent. Her first published work was a religious poe ...more
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“What greater thing is there for two human souls, than to feel that they are joined for life--to strengthen each other in all labor, to rest on each other in all sorrow, to minister to each other in all pain, to be one with each other in silent unspeakable memories at the moment of the last parting?” 344 likes
“Our deeds determine us, as much as we determine our deeds.” 149 likes
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