Dinah and Adam

Dinah and Adam

William Small

Wood engraving by J. Cooper

5½ x 3½ inches

George Eliot,Adam Bede, facing 442.

A good example of Small’s capacity to inscribe strong emotions in simple gestures. Although the drawing is uncharacteristically stilted – with Adam’s and Dinah’s heads seeming disjointed from their bodies – the overall effect is still one of intense psychological drama. The tenderness of the scene, as a time-honoured story of the simple man and his love, is touchingly validated by the journalistic treatment of the cottage- setting, with pewter plates positioned behind Adam’s head and a rug, covering flagstones, placed under their feet. This is the sort of realism that Eliot strove to create in her novel, and Small’s verisimilitude is a close visual equivalent, the epitome of the ‘poetic realism’ of the style known as ‘The Sixties’

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