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Immediately recognized as a significant literary work, Adam Bede has enjoyed a largely positive critical reputation since its publication. An anonymous review in The Athenaeum praised it as a "novel of the highest class," and The Times called it "a first-rate novel." Contemporary reviewers, often influenced by nostalgia for the earlier period represented in Bede, enthusiastically praised Eliot's characterizations and realistic representations of rural life. Charles Dickens wrote: "The whole country life that the story is set in, is so real, and so droll and genuine, and yet so selected and polished by art, that I cannot praise it enough to you." In fact, in early criticism, the tragedy of infanticide has often been overlooked in favor of the peaceful idyllic world and familiar personalities Eliot recreated...

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