'I have just finished [italics] The Mill on the Floss[end italics]. Reading it and [italics] Adam Bede [end italics] have given me the most extraordinary pleasure. I begin to think George Eliot is not only the greatest English woman novelist but perhaps the greatest English novelist. She has not the fiery poetry of Emily Bronte nor the exquisite surface of Jane Austen but she has a richness and sweep and depth that is Shakespearean. The one thing that maims or constrains her a little is some rigid moral sense which goes against her [italics] natural [end italics ] morality. She is haunted by an impossible ideal of purity and strictness. In [italics] Middlemarch [end italics] and [italics] Adam Bede [end italics] she incarnates this in two women; one so impossibly good that she is repellent.
I am in for a George Eliot bout as a drunkard goes on a jag. Over dinner I raced through a short life of her.'