Views of Mary Ann Evans, the woman behind the pseudonym, have always been controversial- castigated during her own time for sexual impropriety with a married man, accused by male friends of being an overly intellectual man-woman , rejected by twentieth-century feminists for the opinions expressed in her essay Silly Novels by Lady Novelists , she is a figure for our own times as much as for her own. Focusing on three of Eliot s most influential and widely-read Midlands novels, Lucie Armitt traces the effect of recent critical interpretations upon the reception and teaching of Eliot s work, as well as revisiting some of the perspectives offered by original reviewers and early critics. Class, gender and ideology all come under scrutiny, as do Eliot s central fictive themes of currency, circulation, sensuality and the voice. A variety of theoretical positions are reflected in the material selected for discussion, including post-structuralism, feminism, Marxism and psychoanalysis. Clear explication of these discourses is offered, combined with informative and detailed readings of primary extracts as illustrations.