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Romola

Author: Eliot, George Set In . . .
 Europe, Italy, Florence
Genre: Historical Novel
Time Frame: 1400s
Published: 1864
Description: Mary Anne Evans (22 November 1819 – 22 December 1880; alternatively Mary Ann or Marian), known by her pen name George Eliot, was an English novelist, poet, journalist, translator, and one of the leading writers of the Victorian era. She wrote seven novels, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Romola (1862–63), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of which are set in provincial England and known for their realism and psychological insight.Although female authors were published under their own names during her lifetime, she wanted to escape the stereotype of women's writing being limited to lighthearted romances. She also wanted to have her fiction judged separately from her already extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic. Another factor in her use of a pen name may have been a desire to shield her private life from public scrutiny, thus avoiding the scandal that would have arisen because of her relationship with the married George Henry Lewes.Eliot's Middlemarch has been described by the novelists Martin Amis and Julian Barnes as the greatest novel in the English language...Romola (1862–63) is a historical novel by George Eliot set in the fifteenth century, and is "a deep study of life in the city of Florence from an intellectual, artistic, religious, and social point of view".[citation needed] The story takes place amidst actual historical events during the Italian Renaissance, and includes in its plot several notable figures from Florentine history.Plot summaryFlorence, 1492: Christopher Columbus has sailed towards the New World, and Florence has just mourned the death of its legendary leader, Lorenzo de' Medici. In this setting, a Florentine trader meets a shipwrecked stranger, who introduces himself as Tito Melema, a young Italianate-Greek scholar. Tito becomes acquainted with several other Florentines, including Nello the barber and a young girl named Tessa. He is also introduced to a blind scholar named Bardo de' Bardi, and his daughter Romola. As Tito becomes settled in Florence, assisting Bardo with classical studies, he falls in love with Romola. However, Tessa falls in love with Tito, and the two are "married" in a mock ceremony.Tito learns from Fra Luca, a Dominican friar, that his adoptive father has been forced into slavery and is asking for assistance. Tito introspects, comparing filial duty to his new ambitions in Florence, and decides that it would be futile to attempt to rescue his adoptive father. This paves the way for Romola and Tito to marry. Fra Luca shortly thereafter falls ill and before his death he speaks to his estranged sister, Romola. Ignorant of Romola's plans, Fra Luca warns her of a vision foretelling a marriage between her and a mysterious stranger who will bring pain to her and her father. After Fra Luca's death, Tito dismisses the warning and advises Romola to trust him. Tito and Romola become betrothed at the end of Carnival, to be married at Easter after Tito returns from a visit to Rome.The novel then skips ahead to November 1494, more than eighteen months after the marriage. In that time, the French-Italian Wars have seen Florence enter uneasy times. Girolamo Savonarola preaches to Florentines about ridding the Church and the city of scourge and corruption, and drums up support for the new republican government. Piero de' Medici, Lorenzo de' Medici's son and successor to the lordship of Florence, has been driven from the city for his ignominious surrender to the invading French king, Charles VIII. The Medici palace is looted and the Medici family formally exiled from the city. In this setting, Tito, now a valued member of Florentine society, participates in the reception for the French invaders. Tito encounters an escaped prisoner, who turns out to be his adopted father, Baldassarre...
  
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