Her eyes and her wit are both dazzling; her nose and her morals are alike free from any tendency to irregularity; she has a superb contralto and a superb intellect; she is perfectly well dressed and perfectly religious; she dances like a sylph, and reads the Bible in the original tongues…In her recorded conversations she is amazingly eloquent, and in her unrecorded conversations, amazingly witty. She is understood to have a depth of insight that looks through and through the shallow theories of philosophers… The men play a very subordinate part by her side…They see her at a ball, and they are dazzled; at a flower-show, and they are fascinated; on a riding excursion, and they are witched by her noble horsemanship; at church, and they are awed by the sweet solemnity of her demeanor. (Eliot 1992:296)
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Although irregularly categorised as a historical novel, Middlemarch ' s attention to historical detail has been recurrently noticed by critics; in his 1873 review, Henry James recognised that Eliot's "purpose was to be a generous rural historian".  Elsewhere, Eliot has been described as adopting "the role of imaginative historian, even scientific investigator in Middlemarch , and her narrator, as conscious "of the historiographical questions involved in writing a social and political history of provincial life"; this narrator compares the novel to "a work of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus ", who is often described as "The Father of History".